Expository Essay on How Is the System of the Earth Changing?

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1164 words
Carnegie Mellon University
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Research paper
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The advancement of Earth remote sensing and pioneering the scientific application for the measurement of global satellites help in the improvement and enhancement of human understanding with regard to planet earth. This information helps in making informed economic and policy decisions which are important in the growth and improvement of operational services which benefit the world.

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Earth Science Challenges

Earth is the only planet that is known to support highly diversified life in the whole universe. Compared to Venus, Mars, and other planets, the atmosphere of the earth contains large and massive volumes of surface liquid water. In addition to that, the Earth contains a magnetic field that is internally generated and, it helps in maintaining an environment that supports both human life and human civilization. One of the major challenges for earth science is to prioritize pathfinder missions which are responsible for developing global measurements. These measurements help in providing answers to unanswered questions while reducing any uncertainties with regard to systematic missions. It is important to note that these systematic missions help in the maintenance of the continuity of primary measurements awaiting transition to operational systems.

What Measurements Are Used to Determine Global Climate Change?

Processes involved in global change have to be analyzed through first-time global measurements. This is done through active remote sensings such as radars and lidars. It is not easy to implement these remote sensing devices. NASA builds on past missions using remote sensors to offer long-term continuity of measurement for parameters that show the variability and trends of changes in the global climate. They also help in differentiating between climate changes that have been caused by human beings and those that have occurred naturally. The main factors in systematic mission priorities are the significance of the measurement and assessment to global change research and the maturity of the operational transition plan. These are followed by missions that will make first-time global measurements.

Instrument Plan: A JWST primary segment system, will be integrated with the observatory’s twelve other mirrors. This instrument will help scientists to study earth from space

Science Area: Study planet Earth from space to assist in the advancement of scientific understanding and meeting societal needs.

Science Research Questions

Which are the primary reasons for the changes in the system of the Earth?

In what ways does the Earth system respond to changes, either those occurring naturally or those caused by human action?

What are the repercussions or impacts caused by human civilization?

What are some of the changes expected for the Earth System in the future?

Science Research Objectives

  1. Understanding and improvement of the predictive capability for changes in the ozone layer, climate forcing, and air quality which are all associated with changes in atmospheric composition

  2. Help in the improvement of predictive capability for weather and extreme events of weather

  3. Quantify global lands cover change and terrestrial and marine productivity and improvement of the carbon cycle and ecosystem models

  4. Quantify the key reservoirs and fluxes in the global water cycle and improve models of water cycle change and freshwater availability

  5. Understand the function of oceans, ice, and atmosphere when it comes to the climate system and improves the predictive capability for its future evolution

  6. Characterize and understand Earth surface changes and variability of Earths gravitational and magnetic fields

  7. Expand and accelerate the realization of societal benefits from Earth system science

Completed Missions With Earth Mission Decadal Task

  1. Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) [2008] Competed mission - Earth System Science Pathfinder.

  2. Nearing completion of development. First global measurement of CO2 from space; small Earth science mission.

  3. Aquarius [2009] Competed mission - Earth System Science Pathfinder.

  4. In the advanced stage of development. First global measurement of sea-surface salinity from space; small Earth science mission. A joint mission with Argentina.

  5. Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) [2012] Strategic mission - Initializes a systematic measurement.

  6. Recommended by 2005 interim report of decadal survey committee; extend spatial coverage to global and temporal coverage to every 3 hours with constellation

Future Representative Mission Elements (unprioritized):

  • Changes in Earths Ice Cover

  • Global Ocean Carbon, Ecosystems and Coastal Processes

  • Global Soil Moisture

  • Global Wind Observing Sounder

  • Multi-spectral Atmospheric Composition

  • Sea Surface and Terrestrial Water Levels Vegetation 3-D Structure, Biomass, Disturbance Wide-swath All-weather Geodetic Imaging

Mission concept definitions and priorities are to be determined after the 2007 decadal survey is available. Mission concept studies will likely result in integrating several of these elements into a single mission based on common or compatible technologies and observing techniques. The resulting mission concept set is likely to be a mix of strategic and competed missions.

The instrument will help in understanding the manner in which scientific principles responsible for governing the universe work, analyzing the cosmic dawn through searching for the first stars, black holes, and galaxies. It will assist in analyzing all the nearby habitable planets around other stars. However, an implementation plan has to be developed. The plan will consist of technology development efforts, design studies together with scientific research which help in future space telescopes in priority areas.


There are several advantages of studying earth from space. First and foremost, it offers an opportunity way of gather information which is important in the forecasting and predicting of weather, it also assists in the assessment and evaluation of environmental hazards, the management of natural resources and, enhancement of comprehension of how the climate works. From when satellites with cameras were launched into orbit, there have been tremendous steps in the observations of space and because of innovation and inventions in space-based instruments, progress has been taken further. Observation of the ground, sea, and air help in the monitoring of the planet. However, there is a major challenge when it comes to these systems; they provide a very limited view. My instrument plan will help in tackling this issue. The sensors on the instrument will help in measuring rainfall together with cloud cover, the levels of water in reservoirs and seas, the rate of deforestation happening, and the chemistry with the temperature of the atmosphere. The instrument plan will assist in looking at the most important and fundamental measurement of climate. Information on the amount of energy that the sun hits the energy, the amount of energy which leaves the earth, the level of the sea rising, the breaking of ice shelves, the disappearance of rainforests in major forests like the Amazon, and the rate at which Greenland is shedding ice into the sea, which is very important for human and societal needs, will be made available.


The Physics of the Universe: A Strategic Plan for Federal Research at the Intersection of Physics and Astronomy, 2004 http://www.ostp.gov/html/physicsoftheuniverse2.pdf

Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System, 2005 http://usgeo.gov/docs/EOCStrategic_Plan.pdf#search=%22US%20IEOS%22

Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation, NRC 2005

An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs, NRC 2006

2006 NASA Strategic Plan http://www.nasa.gov/about/budget/index.html

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