What happened to the 2007 Earth science decadal survey missions?
05 January 2018
Ten years after the National Academies published the first Earth science decadal survey, NASA has flown one of the 15 recommended missions with two more scheduled to launch in 2018.
The first decadal survey mission to reach orbit was Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), a campaign to measure water in topsoil that has been in orbit since 2015. SMAP's L-band radiometer continues to function, but its onboard radar quit after less than six months due to a faulty amplifier.
Next up are the twin satellites of the U.S.-German Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On. The spacecraft, which are designed to circle the Earth in tight formation and detect changes in gravitational pull that reveal higher concentrations of mass, are at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California awaiting a March flight on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket alongside five Iridium Next communications satellites.
Image credit: NASA - Soil Moisture Active Passive is the only one of 15 NASA Earth science missions recommended in the 2007 decadal survey that has flown.