Societal Benefit Overview
Earth's surface and vegetation cover are constantly changing on a wide range of time scales. Measuring these changes globally from satellites would enable breakthrough science with important applications to society.
Fluid extraction or injection into subterranean reservoirs results in deformation of Earth's surface. Monitoring this deformation from space provides information important for managing hydrocarbons, CO2, and water resources.
Natural hazards - earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides - on average cause thousands of fatalities and cost billions annually. These processes leave a signature surface deformation signal; measuring the deformation before and after these events leads to better risk management and understanding of the underlying processes.
Climate change affects and is affected by changes in the carbon inventories of forests and other vegetation types. Changes in these land cover inventories can be measured globally. Socio-economic risks are related to the dynamics of the great polar ice sheets, which affect ocean circulation and the water cycle and drive sea level rise and fall. These processes are quantifiable globally, often uniquely, through space-based observations of changes of the surface and overlying biomass cover.
As an all-weather, day/night imaging system, NISAR is arguably the most likely Decadal Survey mission to be able to fulfill the call from the committee to expand the value of NASA’s missions from purely scientifically driven to encompass applications for societal benefit.