From the Foreward (by Dr. Charles Kennel Associate Administrator, Office of Mission to Planet Earth NASA Headquarters, 1994.)
Only remote sensing from space can provide the global, repeatable, continuous observations of processes needed to understand the Earth system as a whole. Of course, understanding the Earth as an integrated system involves the full range of Earth science disciplines, satellite and ground-based observations, and sophisticated computer models; however, the synergistic measurements afforded by colocated sensors on satellites cannot be replicated in situ. Ultimately, if you are studying global processes, you need global measurements, and that entails remote sensing.
As we move to a global economy and encounter the environmental impacts of our activities, many difficult decisions will have to be made. To make intelligent choices requires that we understand our Earth system much better than we do at present. NASA's Mission to Planet Earth is committed to timely provision of the scientific knowledge needed by world leaders to formulate sound, equitable environmental policies.
From the Introduction
With the revelation that the Earth is a vast and complex system not easily subdivided into specific components, interdisciplinary studies have moved to the fore. Interdisciplinary research weaves elements from such formerly disparate sciences as terrestrial ecology, oceanography, and climatology. Process studies blur traditional boundaries between the sciences and introduce even more challenges for satellite and instrument developers. Parameters formerly of interest to just one discipline now have applications in multiple others. Earth science from space goes beyond extracting threads of information from a single sensor; rather, processed data from a bevy of instruments are fused input to or compared with models. Data systems thus need to make the information more readily available and usable. The Earth is a complicated realm, and to delve into its mystery requires enlightened scientific expertise and dedication in all facets of the global change research effort--observational capabilities, data and information systems, scientific investigations, and education.
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