mission to planet earth day: public outreach activities for 1992

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  • Acla Astronautica V01.24, pp. 299-307, 1991 0094-5765/91 $3.00 + 0.00 Printed in Great Britain Pergamon Press plc

    Mission to Planet Earth Day: Public Outreach Activities for 1992

    Lori B. Oarver Executive Director

    National Space Society 922 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

    Washington, DC 20003

    1992 has been des ignated " In ternat iona l Space Year" (ISY). The concept was f i r s t proposed in leg is la t ion introduced by United States Senators Spark Matsunaga and Jake Garn and passed by the United States Congress in 1985. Since that time ISY has received the endorsement of 25 nat ional space agencies and the In ternat iona l Astronaut ica l Federation. In December 1989 ISY was formal ly endorsed by the United Nations. Among ISY's ob ject ives is to h igh l ight g loba l ly -coord inated space act iv i t ies in 1992 and coordinate planning fo r ac t iv i t ies extending in to the 21st century . l

    One of the primary areas of focus fo r ISY w i l l be "Mission to Planet Earth" (MTPE). Among th is p ro jec t ' s long-term ob jec t ives is the s ign i f i cant enhancement of space-based monitoring of threats such as acid ra in , de fores ta t ion , ozone deplet ion and the greenhouse e f fec t . Numerous MTPE sc ient i f i c programs planned fo r 1992 w i l l also improve the database of physical knowledge to enable a bet ter understanding of global change (our dynamic planet and i t s ecologies~. This w i l l be accomplished by managing and sharing data from remote sensing sate l l i tes and research spacecraft and making that information read i ly ava i lab le to researchers and members of the publ ic .

    Some of th is data has already been co l lected and ks catalogued in repos i to r ies around the world, wai t ing to be analyzed. Addit ional data w i l l be co l lected from sate l l i tes cur rent ly in o rb i t . Ten spec i f i c areas of research have thus fa r been selected as "ISY Mission to Planet Earth" pro jects . These ten pro jects are out l ined in th i s paper. In addi t ion to these pro jec ts , al~l of which are slated to be in operation by mid-1992, a large network of sa te l l i tes , ca l led the Earth Observing System (EOS}, is planned to be in operation by 1998. EOS consists of f i ve large Earth observation platforms (two U.S., two

    European and one Japanese>. These w i l l be operated in co6junction with In ternat iona l Space Stat ion Freedom. Data systems establ ished fo r the sharing of informat ion during 1992 should also provide fo r long-term cooperation on EOS through the 21st Century.

    An add i t iona l major ob jec t ive of ISY is a broadened public understanding and support fo r world space act iv i t ies . ISY is an exce l lent opportunity to educate the worldwide general publ ic about the tangib le benef i ts of the space program. Because one of the primary themes of the ISY is MTPE i t is appropriate to focus major educational e f fo r ts on the environmental benef i ts of the space program.

    The National Space Society (NSS) and the US-ISY Associat ion w i l l support th i s educational e f fo r t by combining e f fo r ts wi th environmental organizat ions in support of "Mission to Planet Earth Day" to be held on Apr i l 25, 1992. Mission to Planet Earth Day publ ic education ac t iv i t ies draws insp i ra t ion from Earth Day 1990, Apr i l 22, 1990) when worldwide publ ic a t tent ion was focused on preserving and protect ing our environment. As with Earth Day, MTPE Day w i l l include focused act iv i ty during the weeks surrounding the actual day of ce lebrat ion . Sustaining publ ic a t tent ion fo r a year- long event is extremely d i f f i cu l t . The in tent of MTPE-Day is to provide a focused time fo r publ ic ac t iv i t ies planned fo r ISY which are associated wi th Mission to Planet Earth.

    This paper w i l l examine the issues of importance to the environmental community invo lv ing the Mission to Planet Earth program and the grass-roots experience during Earth Day 1990; i t w i l l out l ine the s t ruc ture and organizat ion being establ ished to support Mission to Planet Earth Day and i t w i l l e luc idate the reasons fo r estab l i sh ing MTPE Day as an in ternat iona l educational focus of ac t iv i ty . MTPE Day w i l l be a success only i f the worldwide space support organizat ions par t i c ipate and include

    th is theme and time-frame in the i r planning of events and pro jects in ce lebrat ion of the In ternat iona l Space Year.

    Long missing from the study of environmental science has been a thorough understanding of the in teract ion of the many environmental fac tors - atmosphere, oceans, land surfaces, comprising the Earth system.

    Mission to Planet Earth in general and EOS spec i f i ca l l y w i l l be the f i r s t attempts at comprehensive study of these systems. By studying the Earth as a system and making concurrent measurements of environmental fac tors these pro jects w i l l provide the f i r s t look at the Earth as the intermeshing of the various environmental systems. Environmental sc ient i s ts understand the importance of th i s perspect ive.

    EOS also o f fe rs the advantage of a long enough study period - 15 years to understand the complex process a f fec t ing global change. This w i l l eas i ly be the most fa r - reach ing study of global change ever undertaken and w i l l enable the development of accurate models s imulat ing the behavior and in teract ion of Earth system components and provide a basel ine against which global change can be documented. This global perspective and pred ic t ive capacity are of par t i cu la r appeal to environmental organizat ions.


  • 300 41st IAF Congress

    ISY w i l l address many of these issues of concern to the environmental community. Major in ternat iona l sc ient i f i c and engineering soc ie t ies have establ ished ISY planning committees and study groups and have so l i c i ted proposals fo r coordinated research pro jects . Par t i c ipat ing U.S. agencies include the National Academy of Sciences, National Aeronautics and Space Administrat ion and National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Admin ist rat ion.

    The most ac t ive in ternat iona l group i s a coa l i t ion of agencies ca l led SAFISY [Space Agency Forum on ISY). This group,

    made up of 25 nat ional agencies i s now divided in to wor~ing groups and committees based on several topics and continues to meet several times a year around the globe. At a recent meeting in Bad Isch l , Austr ia , more than bO sc ient i s ts from 14 countr ies met to review ISY pro jects that evaluate the health of Earth by using sate l l i tes in space. SAFISY selected ten prp jects they are designing that w i l l resu l t in worldwide assessments, completed by 1992, of such global environmental threats as the greenhouse e f fec t , the polar ozone hole and ra in fores t deplet ion. A l i s t ing of these SAFISY sponsored ISY pro jects is provided in Appendix A: 2

    Appendix A:

    i . ENHANCED GREENHOUSE EFFECT DETECTION - - The United States w i l l lead the pro jec t , with par t i c ipat ion from many SAFISY member nations (as with a l l the pro jects l i s ted below). The goal i s to determine i f the greenhouse e f fec t produces a te l l ta le " f ingerpr in t " or pattern of change in sa te l l i te -based global data sets analyzed in ton'junction wi th ground data. The pro ject w i l l examine h is to r i c sa te l l i te data sets and w i l l numerical ly model greenhouse e f fec t detect ions .

    2. OCEAN VARIABILITY AND CLIMATE - - Led by Europe the pro ject w i l l resu l t in space data fo r p red ic t ive models fo r c l imate and ocean c i rcu la t ion in the Northeast A t lant i c , the Greenland Sea, and the t rop ica l A t lant i c Ocean, among other regions.

    3. POLAR STRATOSPHERIC OZONE - - United States and West Germany w i l l co-lead. The pro jec t w i l l improve understanding of changes in polar s t ra tospher ic ozone by combining space observations with measurements from the ground and from a i rc ra f t . The goal i s to provide data fo r models and fu ture ozone deplet ion pred ic t ions given expected emissions of natural and human-caused trace gases.

    4. LAND COVER CHANGE - - France and the United States w i l l l i ke ly co- lead. The pro jec t w i l l produce annual maps, fo r the

    years 1979 to 1989, of land cover change in spec i f i c global regions and w i l l design a model fo r pred ict ing the consequences of land cover change.

    5. PRODUCTIVITY OF THE GLOBAL OCEAN - - Led by Canada and the European Community's Jo in t Research Center, the goal of the pro jec t is to produce global data sets as inputs to a pred ic t ive model on the product iv i ty (e .g . , vegetat ion, marine l i fe ) and health of the oceans.

    b. GLOBAL TROPICAL FOREST MONITORING - - Braz i l and the European Community's Jo in t Research Center w i l l co- lead. The pro jec t w i l l es tab l i sh fo res t monitoring programs ca l led "World Forest Watch" and the "Pan Amazonian Pro jec t , " w i l l use sate l l i te data to de l ineate forested areas from non- forest regions, w i l l estimate de fores ta t ion rates and w i l l produce global maps of deforested regions fo r the years 1983 to 1991.

    7. SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE - - Led by the United Kingdom and Japan. The pro ject w i l l combine sate l l i te observations to produce data sets of strong temperature var iab i l i ty in the Western Pac i f i c , the North Sea, the Sea of Japan and the Eastern Pac i f i c , home of El Nino.


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