Cosmos Collection

Spanning many decades, this collection of books on space exploration and astrophysics celebrates the premiere of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.

Organic Matter and the Moon, by Carl Sagan ( 1961 )

The immediate future seems to hold both the promise and the responsibility of extensive contact between man-made objects and the Moon. Current United States plans tentatively call for the soft landing on the Moon of instrumentation designed to detect indigenous organisms or organic matter, possibly in a roving vehicle, by 1964-67 in the Surveyor and Prospector Programs. The Soviet Union apparently has the capability of performing similar experiments at an ...[more]

One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos ( 2000 )

A new window opens onto the cosmos... Almost every day we are challenged by new information from the outermost reaches of space. Using straightforward language, One Universe explores the physical principles that govern the workings of our own world so that we can appreciate how they operate in the cosmos around us. Bands of color in a sunlit crystal and the spectrum of starlight in giant telescopes, the arc of ...[more]


Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 ( 2011 )

In recent years, planetary science has seen a tremendous growth in new knowledge. Deposits of water ice exist at the Moon's poles. Discoveries on the surface of Mars point to an early warm wet climate, and perhaps conditions under which life could have emerged. Liquid methane rain falls on Saturn's moon Titan, creating rivers, lakes, and geologic landscapes with uncanny resemblances to Earth's. Vision and Voyages ...[more]


NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus ( 2012 )

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is widely admired for astonishing accomplishments since its formation in 1958. Looking ahead over a comparable period of time, what can the nation and the world expect of NASA? What will be the agency's goals and objectives, and what will be the strategy for achieving them? More fundamentally, how will the goals, objectives, and strategy be established and by whom? How will they ...[more]


Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era ( 2011 )

More than four decades have passed since a human first set foot on the Moon. Great strides have been made in our understanding of what is required to support an enduring human presence in space, as evidenced by progressively more advanced orbiting human outposts, culminating in the current International Space Station (ISS). However, of the more than 500 humans who have so far ventured into space, most have gone only ...[more]


Defending Planet Earth:Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies ( 2010 )

The United States spends approximately $4 million each year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs). The objective is to detect those that may collide with Earth. The majority of this funding supports the operation of several observatories that scan the sky searching for NEOs. This, however, is insufficient in detecting the majority of NEOs that may present a tangible threat to humanity. A significantly smaller amount of funding supports ways to ...[more]


Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts:A Workshop Report ( 2008 )

The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology--power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies--are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, are the potential economic and societal impacts of the disruption of critical technological systems by severe space weather. As a first step toward determining the socioeconomic ...[more]


The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems ( 2007 )

The search for life in the solar system and beyond has to date been governed by a model based on what we know about life on Earth (terran life). Most of NASA's mission planning is focused on locations where liquid water is possible and emphasizes searches for structures that resemble cells in terran organisms. It is possible, however, that life exists that is based on chemical reactions that ...[more]


The Astrophysical Context of Life ( 2005 )

In 1997, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) formed the National Astrobiology Institute to coordinate and fund research into the origins, distribution, and fate of life in the universe. A 2002 NRC study of that program, Life in the Universe: An Assessment of U.S. and International Programs in Astrobiology, raised a number of concerns about the Astrobiology program. In particular, it concluded that areas of astrophysics related to ...[more]


NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities: Restoring NASA's Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space ( 2012 )

NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) has begun to rebuild the advanced space technology program in the agency with plans laid out in 14 draft technology roadmaps. It has been years since NASA has had a vigorous, broad-based program in advanced space technology development and its technology base has been largely depleted. However, success in executing future NASA space missions will depend on advanced technology developments that should already ...[more]


The Sun to the Earth -- and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics ( 2003 )

The sun is the source of energy for life on earth and is the strongest modulator of the human physical environment. In fact, the Sun s influence extends throughout the solar system, both through photons, which provide heat, light, and ionization, and through the continuous outflow of a magnetized, supersonic ionized gas known as the solar wind. While the accomplishments of the past decade have answered ...[more]


Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society ( 2013 )

From the interior of the Sun, to the upper atmosphere and near-space environment of Earth, and outward to a region far beyond Pluto where the Sun's influence wanes, advances during the past decade in space physics and solar physics--the disciplines NASA refers to as heliophysics--have yielded spectacular insights into the phenomena that affect our home in space. Solar and Space Physics, from the National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee for a ...[more]


New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics ( 2010 )

Driven by discoveries, and enabled by leaps in technology and imagination, our understanding of the universe has changed dramatically during the course of the last few decades. The fields of astronomy and astrophysics are making new connections to physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science. Based on a broad and comprehensive survey of scientific opportunities, infrastructure, and organization in a national and international context, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and ...[more]


Panel Reports--New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics ( 2011 )

Every 10 years the National Research Council releases a survey of astronomy and astrophysics outlining priorities for the coming decade. The most recent survey, titled New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, provides overall priorities and recommendations for the field as a whole based on a broad and comprehensive examination of scientific opportunities, infrastructure, and organization in a national and international context. Panel Reports--New Worlds, ...[more]

Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey ( 2012 )

The 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), outlines a scientifically exciting and programmatically integrated plan for both ground- and space-based astronomy and astrophysics in the 2012-2021 decade. However, late in the survey process, the budgetary outlook shifted downward considerably from the guidance that NASA had provided to the decadal survey. And since August 2010--when NWNH was released--the projections of funds ...[more]


Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA's Implementation of the Decadal Survey ( 2012 )

Understanding the effects of natural and human-induced changes on the global environment and their implications requires a foundation of integrated observations of land, sea, air and space, on which to build credible information products, forecast models, and other tools for making informed decisions. The 2007 National Research Council report on decadal survey called for a renewal of the national commitment to a program of Earth observations in which attention to ...[more]

The Science of Planetary Exploration ( 1979 )

The Science of Planetary Exploration summarizes the knowledge of the solar system as of the late 1970s, and sets forth a strategy to guide solar-system exploration over the next decade. The summaries and recommendations are divided into three parts: the inner planets, the outer planets, and comets and asteroids. Exploration technology is also mentioned, including technologies that were currently under development. The report marks an important shift in how the ...[more]

Post-Challenger Evaluation of Space Shuttle Risk Assessment and Management ( 1988 )

After the Challenger accident on January 28, 1986, President Reagan established the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident to investigate the accident and make recommendations for the safe recovery of the Space Transportation System (STS). Among its recommendations, the Commission called upon NASA to review certain aspects of its STS risk assessment effort and to identify items that needed improvement. It further recommended that an audit panel ...[more]

Planetary Exploration, 1968-1975; Report of a Study by the Space Science Board, Washington, D.C., June 1968 ( 1968 )

Planetary Exploration, 1968-1975 is the report of a study convened by the Space Science Board to consider planetary exploration. The group reappraised the recommendations of the Board's 1965 Woods Hole Study in the light of advances in scientific knowledge and changing demands upon the nation's resources. ...[more]

Human Factors in Long-Duration Spaceflight ( 1972 )

Human Factors in Long-Duration Spaceflight is a compilation of the findings of a study of the behavioral, psychological, physiological, and medical factors of manned space missions of up to two years' duration. The intent of the recommendations in the report is to indicate the blocks of research, roughly in order of priority, that will be most fruitful in the years ahead in coming to grips with the problems of long-duration ...[more]

Practical Applications of a Space Station ( 1984 )

The demonstrated capabilities of the Space Shuttle and rapid advancements in both ground- and space-based technology offer new opportunities for developing space systems for practical use, including a manned space station and one or more unmanned space platforms. The Space Applications Board conducted a study to determine the technical requirements that should be considered in the conceptual design of a space station and/or space platforms so that, if developed, these ...[more]

Report of the Committee on a Commercially Developed Space Facility ( 1989 )

The Committee on a Commercially Developed Space Facility assessed the scientific and commercial benefit to the nation of having a CDSF in place prior to Space Station operations. The committee examined planned and anticipated microgravity research and manufacturing requirements of the federal government and commercial users as well as the extent to which existing, planned, and proposed capabilities and infrastructure could support these requirements. The committee's findings concentrate ...[more]

Scientific Uses of the Space Shuttle ( 1974 )

Scientific Uses of the Space Shuttle focuses on those aspects of the Shuttle most different from conventional launch-vehicle capabilities. It especially considers the sortie mode, in which the Shuttle carries into orbit a payload that remains attached to the Shuttle and then returns to earth with the payload after one to four weeks. Interest in the sortie mode is particularly great because of the contemporary decision by several European countries ...[more]