The Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program is a science-driven Program designed to provide an innovative approach to Earth science research by providing periodic, competitively selected opportunities to accommodate new and emergent scientific priorities. ESSP Projects include developmental, high-return Earth Science missions including advanced remote sensing instrument approaches to achieve these priorities, and often involve partnerships with other U.S. agencies and/or with international science and space organizations. These Projects are capable of supporting a variety of scientific objectives related to Earth science, including the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, polar ice regions and solid earth. Projects include development and operation of space missions, space-based remote sensing instruments for missions of opportunity, and airborne science missions, and the conduct of science research utilizing data from these missions. ESSP missions encompass the entire Project life-cycle from definition, through design, development, integration and test, launch, operations, science data analysis, distribution and archival.
ESSP is home to NASAâ€™s Earth Venture (EV) class of missions: a series of uncoupled, relatively low-to-moderate cost, small to medium-sized, competitively selected, full orbital missions (EVM), instruments for orbital missions of opportunity (EVI) and sub-orbital projects (EVS), legacy ESSP Projects: Projects selected under prior Announcements of Opportunity that are currently in operations, and non-competitive, directed Projects: projects that are designed to meet unique needs such as the replacement of a mission that did not fulfill its intended mission requirements.
The Principal Investigator for each competitively selected Project is responsible for the overall success of the Project, and is accountable to NASA for the success of the mission. Project teams may include university, industry, government, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers and international partners, as desired by the Principal Investigator.
The Science Mission Directorate (SMD), in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Engineer (OCE)/Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL), sponsors the Hands-On Project Experience (HOPE) projects through Training Opportunities (TO) to develop an in-house Project Team that will fly an Earth or space science and/or technology payload having a useful purpose to SMD on any suborbital-class platform including sounding rocket, balloon, aircraft (piloted, unmanned, or parabolic), CubeSat, or suborbital reusable launch vehicle (sRLV). The SMD AA, in collaboration with OCE, has designated that the ESSP Program Office at the NASA Langley Research Center will provide the program and project management oversight responsibilities for HOPE project implementation, and serve as the principle interface with the selected Center project team(s) throughout the implementation phase.
- EVS: Earth Venture Sub-Orbital solicitation
- EVM: Earth Venture Mission solicitation
- EVI: Earth Venture Instruments solicitation