NASA’s Earth Science Division is organized around four programmatic areas: flight, research, applied sciences, and technology. Together these areas include programs and projects that are responsible for: conducting and sponsoring research to advance scientific understanding of Earth as a system, collecting and disseminating new observations, developing new technologies and computational models, and building the capacity to develop innovative applications of Earth science observations and research results. Flight mission development—from advanced concept studies, to flight hardware development, to on-orbit operation—is managed within the Earth Systematic Missions (ESM) and Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Programs. ESD conducts research, applied science, and technology efforts through its respective Earth Science Research, Applied Sciences, and Earth Science Technology Programs.

Earth Systematic Missions Program

The ESM Program includes a broad range of multidisciplinary science investigations aimed at developing a scientific understanding of the Earth system and its response to natural and human-induced forces. The ESM Program implements the Earth Science Division’s strategic missions, including the foundational missions. The program also includes the systematic missions recommended by the decadal survey and most of the missions providing additional sustained measurements, including land imaging and climate continuity missions. Earth System Science Pathfinder Program ESSP implements low- to moderate-cost research and applications missions that foster revolutionary science and train future leaders in space-based Earth science and applications fields. This program includes the new Earth Venture missions recommended in the Earth science decadal survey, which consist of low-cost, PI-led, competed suborbital and orbital missions, as well as instruments for MoOs. The ESSP program also includes operating missions that were competitively selected and Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, which is a follow-on mission to OCO, an ESSP mission that was lost as the result of a launch vehicle failure.