Letter | NASA Still Pursuing Earth Science Onboard International Space Station

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The SpaceNews article “In Next Earth Venture Mission, ISS Payloads Need Not Apply” gives the erroneous impression that NASA is no longer interested in using the International Space Station as a platform for its Earth science investigations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

NASA continues to actively solicit ideas for Earth science instruments to attach to the ISS exterior for studying Earth. All three of NASA’s Earth Venture Instrument solicitations to date, including the most recent call that just closed this summer, were open to proposals to fly instruments on the ISS.

The article notes correctly that one of the several types of Earth Venture solicitations — the Earth Venture Mission-2 call for standalone small satellite missions issued Sept. 3 — states that ISS instrument proposals are not appropriate for that type of Earth Venture project. The article fails to mention, however, that ISS instruments will continue to be encouraged in forthcoming Earth Venture Instrument solicitations, which happen every 18 months.

NASA’s Earth Science Division continues to strongly support the use of the ISS for Earth science. We have two new ISS Earth-observing instruments set to launch in 2016: SAGE 3 and the Lightning Imaging Sensor. Two more instruments from our second Earth Venture Instrument selection — the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation Lidar (GEDI) and the Ecosystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) — are on track to launch to the ISS before 2020. And through our regular series of Earth Venture Instrument calls, we are looking forward to receiving proposals for new and innovative ISS instruments that will advance our nation’s capability to better understand our changing planet.

Michael H. Freilich
Washington

The writer is director of NASA’s Earth Science Division.