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NASA's New Decadal Survey Missions: SMAP, ICESat-II


Decadal missions banner

On Feb. 4, NASA announced the start of two new Earth science missions. As part of the President's budget request for Fiscal Year 2009, NASA will begin development of SMAP and ICESat-II. These missions were two of the top priorities of the National Research Council's Decadal Survey of Earth science issued last year. These are the first of a series of new missions based on the recommendations of the Decadal Survey.

NASA's FY 2009 budget provides $570 million over the next five years for the development of the many Decadal Survey recommendations, including starting SMAP and ICESat-II, conducting early development work on three or more additional Decadal Survey missions, and initiating the smaller Venture class activities.

SMAP is being planned for a launch in 2012, followed by the launch of ICESat-II in 2015. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., has been selected as the lead center for SMAP, with involvement by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Goddard Space Flight Center has been selected as the lead center for ICESat-II, with potential involvement of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Additional partnerships, both international and interagency, are possible and will be considered thoroughly during the formulation phase of these two missions.

The science objectives for both missions are very mature and robust, building on extensive studies and input from the scientific community, including NASA-sponsored workshops on each mission last summer. Detailed science and mission planning will get underway this year as teams of scientists are selected and engineering project teams are assigned to work on the missions.


> Jared Entin, Earth Science Division, NASA Headquarters

Jared Entin manages the Terrestrial Hydrology program within the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters, Washington. He also leads the Water and Energy Cycle focus area and helped develop the Applied Science's Water Management program. At Goddard Space Flight Center, Jared helped to develop data assimilation systems capable of ingesting satellite microwave data into land surface models to improve their performance. Analysis of global soil moisture observations was the subject of his doctoral thesis at the University of Maryland, College Park.

> Eni Njoku, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Eni Njoku is project scientist for NASA's Soil Moisture Active-Passive (SMAP) mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. He is a senior research scientist and supervisor of the Water and Carbon Cycles Group. Eni has devoted his research career at JPL to the field of microwave remote sensing for hydrologic applications. He has been involved in NASA soil moisture mission working groups and mission concept development since the early 1990s. He was JPL's project scientist for Hydros, a precursor program to SMAP.

> Seelye Martin, Earth Science Division, NASA Headquarters

Seelye Martin is the program officer for the Cryosphere in the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Headquarters, Washington. He is on leave from the University of Washington, Seattle, where his research focuses on remote-sensing of sea ice and icebergs. During his career, Seelye has participated in more than twenty Arctic research cruises and field traverses.

> Jay Zwally, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Jay Zwally is project scientist for NASA's Ice Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) and senior research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., since 1974. His recent research includes leading a comprehensive analysis of the mass balance of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and ice shelves, the discovery of the melt-acceleration effect on the flow of the Greenland ice sheet, and the first comprehensive mapping of sea ice freeboard and thickness distributions. Jay led the promotion and development of the first ICESat and is a key participant in the design and planning for ICESat-II.


Icon for the multimedia promo ICESat's orbit was designed to maximize coverage over the great polar ice sheets, where ground tracks overlap to create an intricate grid of data points.

Contact Information:

Steve Cole
Headquarters, Washington

Event Information:

The media briefing to discuss NASA's newest Earth science missions will take place on Friday, Feb. 29, 2008 at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Reporters in the U.S. can participate by dialing 1-888-730-9134. International reporters can participate by dialing 210-234-0009. The passcode is EARTH.

Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's Web site at:

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Kathryn Hansen
Goddard Space Flight Center