Space fans, circle Dec. 1 on all your calendars.
This day will see the inaugural meeting of the National Space Council, which is responsible for guiding U.S. Space policy. It will be chaired by Vice President Kamala Hariri. She plans to accomplish a lot.
Harris stated that he was looking forward to the meeting in a speech delivered Friday at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt (Maryland). "And at that meeting we will outline a comprehensive blueprint for our nation’s space priorities, starting with our civilian efforts and ending with our military and national security efforts, STEM [science technology engineering and math] education, and the emerging space economy.
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Kamala Harris, Vice President, speaks at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Nov. 5, 2021. (Image credit to whitehouse.gov
Harris stated that helping the U.S. and other countries deal with the climate crisis is one of her top priorities during her speech.
She stated that climate change was a serious threat and that we must immediately take action to combat it.
Harris said, "As our nation works towards meeting our climate commitments," Harris continued. "Right now, we monitor emissions and measure the impact of climate changes from space. Our fleet of sensors and satellites provides citizens and scientists with the data they need to reduce the impact and adapt to it.
She cited Landsat 9 as an example. It was a joint NASA/United States Geological Survey mission (USGS), that launched Sept. 27. This spacecraft will continue the legacy of Landsat, which has been orbiting Earth since 1972.
Landsat 9 took its first photos Oct. 31 and NASA and USGS released them Friday. Harris stated that the satellite's imagery and images taken by Earth-observation crafts are a valuable resource in these difficult times.
She said that first responders can use these images to save lives. Farmers can use these images to evaluate their crops in case of drought or heat that threatens their yield. Scientists who work to combat climate change can also use these images.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also spoke at Friday's Goddard event and stressed the importance of NASA's climate work.
Nelson stated that NASA is "the tip of the spear" in climate change. "We are the most important climate agency and the proof is in the pudding."
He mentioned the Landsat program as an example and said that NASA plans five "great observatories", which will be launched by NASA over the next ten years, to measure our planet like never before.
Nelson stated, "That will give precision in our measurements, the oceans and the atmosphere, and it will create [a] 3D composite so that we can see with great detail more than we have now, what is happening to the Earth."
He also announced that a new mission, INCUS ("Investigation of Convective Updrafts") was selected. This mission will study storms and how they impact climate and weather models. INCUS will launch in 2027 at a cost of $177 million. Launch costs are not included.
Harris and President Joe Biden have avowed to focus on climate work, Earth science, and other issues. This is a significant departure from their predecessors. While he tried repeatedly to reduce NASA Earth Science budgets and missions during his presidency, he was unsuccessful in every instance.
The National Space Council was revived by President Trump, after it had been inactive since the 1990s. Between 2017 and 2020, Mike Pence (Trump's vice president) presided over eight meetings of this council.