The next generation of U.S. polar orbiting environmental satellites, are now under development. These satellites, jointly developed by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Commerce (DOC), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), will be known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). It is expected that the first of these satellites will be launched in 2010. NPOESS has been designed to meet the operational needs of the U.S. civilian meteorological, environmental, climatic, and space environmental remote sensing programs, and the Global Military Space and Geophysical Environmental remote sewing programs. This system, however, did not meet all the needs of the user community interested in operational oceanography (particularly in coastal regions). Beginning in the fall of 2000, the Integrated Program Office (IPO), a joint DoD, DOC, and NASA office responsible for the NPOESS development, initiated the Ocean Observer Study (OOS). The purpose of this study was to assess and recommend how best to measure the missing or inadequately sampled ocean parameters. This paper summarizes the ocean measurement requirements documented in the OOS, describes the national need to measure these parameters, and describes the satellite instrumentation required to make those measurements.
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Ocean observer study: A proposed national asset to augment the future U.S. operational satellite system