SMD Technology Infusions: Earth Venture Program
Technologies Infused: In 2015, NASA funded six new suborbital Earth Venture-class missions—five of which include technologies infused from SMD-sponsored technology development efforts. Managed by the Earth System Science Pathfinder Program (ESSP), the NASA Earth Venture program funds competitively selected, low-to-moderate cost, small-to-medium-sized, innovative missions to address a variety of Earth science topics. There are currently three categories of Earth Venture awards:
- Earth Venture Missions (EVM), which involve full orbital missions;
- Earth Venture Suborbital (EVS) missions and campaigns, which employ aircraft, balloons, sounding rockets, and other suborbital assets; and
- Earth Venture Instruments (EVI), which are instruments that require final development for future use in orbit.
Since the program’s inception in 2010, SMD-sponsored technologies have played key roles in nearly every Earth Venture selection, and the most recent solicitation—Earth Venture Suborbital-2—was no exception.
Impact: Sustained SMD technology investment is enabling NASA to regularly solicit quick-turnaround projects, as recommended by the NRC in the 2007 Earth Science Decadal Survey. The particular missions awarded by the Earth Venture Suborbital-2 solicitation will allow scientists to learn more about melting glaciers, atmospheric chemistry and air pollution, ocean warming, greenhouse gas sources, and the effect of fires in Africa on clouds. The information gained from these suborbital missions will complement the science obtained via other NASA initiatives that employ ground-based and Earth-orbiting assets.
Status and Future Plans: Funding for the Earth Venture Suborbital-2 projects extends from 2015 - 2020. Each of these projects is funded at a total cost of no more than $30 million, to include initial development, field campaigns, and analysis of data. Selection announcements for Earth Venture Mission-2 and Earth Venture Instrument-3 are anticipated in 2016.
Sponsoring Organization: The Earth Science Division supported development of the technologies infused into the Earth Venture Suborbital-2 projects through the IIP.