Workshop Report (Portable Document Format)
Environmental and Societal Impacts Group
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
In the near future NASA faces an important decision about the termination of the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission ("TRMM") satellite. There are at least two alternatives,
perhaps more, each with potentially significant consequences for science and society. One alternative is that NASA could de-orbit TRMM in a controlled fashion, reducing the risks to human life and property associated with an uncontrolled reentry. However, this would reduce TRMM's scientific data-gathering lifetime by about three years and, by extension, the benefits of that data to meteorological operations, particularly related to tropical cyclone forecasts. Another alternative is that NASA would extend TRMM's orbital lifetime, preserving the availability of TRMM's unique data for operational meteorological forecasting, but increase the risks associated with TRMM's eventual reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. There are possibly other alternatives that involve similar trade-offs. What course of action should NASA take?
As input to NASA's decision-making process, the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), with sponsorship from NASA, held a workshop on June 18-19, 2001, in Boulder, Colorado. The goal of the workshop was to provide a comprehensive assessment of the risks and benefits associated with the decision alternatives the agency faces with
respect to TRMM.