Busalacchi Testifies on Use of Public-Private Partnerships in Support of NASA Earth Science

For Immediate Release
November 17th, 2015
Contacts: Nate Rabner, nrabner@essic.umd.edu

Busalacchi Testifies on Use of Public-Private Partnerships in Support of NASA Earth Science

WASHINGTON, D.C. – University of Maryland Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center Director, Professor Antonio Busalacchi, testified Tuesday morning in a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on opportunities for public-private partnerships in Earth observation.

As a former NASA scientist and chief of the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Busalacchi was the source selection official for the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS). Orbital Sciences Corporation launched the ocean color sensor into orbit in 1997, and NASA processed the data it returned.

Drawing on his experience with the project, Busalacchi spoke to members of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s environment and space subcommittees about essential aspects of future partnerships. A successful collaboration, he said, will depend upon commercial opportunities to draw private interest, and open data-gathering methods so public researchers can understand and work with the information.

“Public-private partnerships offer an alternative — and potentially less costly — method to acquire Earth observations,” Busalacchi’s testimony read. “However, with SeaWiFS as a guide, a successful public partnership may be realized only in limited circumstances and only with careful attention to the particular needs of both profit-making entities and the scientific community.”

Under the SeaWiFS partnership, researchers received data on a two-week delay while Orbital Sciences Corporation planned to sell live data to the commercial fishing industry. For NASA projects that focus on time scales of months and years, continuity and transparency of data might be more important than getting information as soon as it’s collected, Busalacchi said.

Busalacchi is a co-chair for the National Research Council’s 2017 Decadal Survey for Earth Science and Applications from Space, set to be released in summer 2017, which will recommend priorities for space-based Earth observation through 2027.

Media Contacts
Nate Rabner
Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center