NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder
[Source: NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program home page, http://science.nasa.gov/about-us/smd-programs/earth-system-science-... ]
The Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) Program is a science-driven Program designed to provide an innovative approach to Earth science research by providing periodic, competitively selected opportunities to accommodate new and emergent scientific priorities. ESSP Projects include developmental, high-risk, high-return Earth Science missions including advanced remote sensing instrument approaches to achieve these priorities, and often involve partnerships with other U.S. agencies and/or with international science and space organizations. These Projects are capable of supporting a variety of scientific objectives related to Earth science, including the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, polar ice regions and solid earth. Projects include development and operation of space missions, space-based remote sensing instruments for missions of opportunity, and airborne science missions, and the conduct of science research utilizing data from these missions. ESSP missions encompass the entire Project life-cycle from definition, through design, development, integration and test, launch, operations, science data analysis, distribution and archival.