David E.

Steitz Headquarters, Washington, DC (Phone: 202/358-1730) RELEASE: 98-173

October 1, 1998

EARTH SCIENCES INSTRUMENT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS ANNOUNCED NASA's Office of Earth Sciences has begun a new program to develop and demonstrate new measurement technologies through ground-based laboratory activities. The Instrument Incubator Program (IIP) will reduce the risk, cost, size, and development time of Earth-observing instruments and enable new Earth-observation measurements. "This new program is intended to bring together technological capabilities of academia, industry and government to enable NASA's Earth Sciences enterprise to accomplish its scientific and applications objectives," said Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Associate Administrator for Earth Sciences, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. "Through this program we intend to introduce technological innovations into the science and applications programs more frequently and reduce development time and risk, lowering the cost of future missions." NASA received 123 proposals of which 27 have been selected. Selected projects include three from industry, six from NASA field centers, eight from universities and ten from national laboratories. The dollar value of the first round of IIP awards is approximately $20 million. Areas for instrument development within the program include land-cover and land-use change and global productivity research; seasonal-to-interannual climate variability and prediction; natural hazards research and applications; and long-term climate observations -- natural variability and change research, and atmospheric ozone research. "The Earth Sciences enterprise is and will continue to operate in a restrictive budget environment for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that commercial rather than custom spacecraft will be used for many missions. These commercial spacecraft may only support smaller payloads.

Large, expensive scientific instruments are not affordable in this new environment, and innovation is absolutely essential to the future success of the Earth Sciences program," said John Kelley, IIP program executive, NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC. The IIP will enable members of the scientific community to propose, build and launch new Earth Science payloads within a three- to four-year period. By focusing on a short turnaround time, NASA hopes to minimize cost while encouraging creative new designs for Earth Science instruments. This program represents the first time that the Earth Sciences enterprise has solicited technology proposals, establishing a benchmark for future solicitations. A complete listing of the first group of awards is available on the Internet at URL: http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/ese/nra/winners_list.html NASA's Office of Earth Sciences studies how our global environment is changing using the unique perspective available from space and airborne platforms. NASA is observing, documenting, and assessing large-scale environmental processes, with current emphases on seasonalto-interannual climate variability, land-cover, land-use changes and global productivity, long-term climate change, atmospheric ozone research, and studies related to the monitoring and prediction of natural hazards to minimize the loss of human life and mitigate property damage. Satellite data, complemented by aircraft and ground data, are enabling researchers to better understand environmental changes, to determine how human activities may have contributed to these changes, and to understand the consequences of such changes. -end-