U.S. scientists say the ability to track retreating polar ice and shifting patterns of drought, rainfall and other environmental changes is being put at risk. They say the U.S. needs to replace aging satellite-borne sensors with new one:
By 2010, the number of operating Earth-observing instruments on NASA satellites, most of which are already past their planned lifetimes, is likely to drop by 40 percent, the National Research Council of the National Academies warned in a report posted on the Internet yesterday at www.nas.edu.
The weakening of these monitoring efforts comes even as many scientists and the Bush administration have been emphasizing their growing importance, both to clarify risks from global warming and natural hazards and to track the condition of forests, fisheries, water and other resources.
Several prominent scientists welcomed the report, saying that while the overall tightening of the federal budget played a role in threatening Earth-observing efforts, a significant contributor was also President Bush’s recent call for NASA to focus on manned space missions