Reflections on Satellites for Earth Resource Surveys : Personal Contributions to a Summer Study.
A discussion and preliminary cost analysis showing that an aircraft reconnaissance system is highly preferable to proposed satellite systems for surveying earth resources. The cost per square mile covered would be one-eighteenth that of the most nearly comparable (but markedly inferior) coverage possible with satellites. Also, aircraft can be easily reassigned as needed and can avoid politically sensitive areas. Their use can promote better public relations in the countries being surveyed, because the countries themselves can participate in the survey. The importance and extent of the data analysis system are usually overlooked: For every photointerpreter, there will need to be ten other persons, some with skills now uncommon or nonexistent. A starter set would be 500 people, one-fifth full scale, at about $10,000,000 a year running costs. The U.S. should begin experimentation at home and not make any international commitments until the system is proved. (Prepared for a NASA-sponsored NAS summer study of Earth-Oriented Space Applications.) 38 pp.