Science.1 The Office of Space Science’s charter includes developing and mounting space missions to study the universe, and promoting science education for the general public and for [K-12] students in particular. In the most recent internal reorganization of the Office of Space Science, an Astronomy and Physics Division was created.
Space missions are the primary vehicle through which the Office of Space Science achieves its scientific and educational objectives. NASA operates a number of laboratories and centers, which manage the implementation of most missions and support their operation. It provides grants to enable research based on the data generated by the missions. The research is carried out both in NASA centers and by investigators in universities and other laboratories. Mission planning is comprehensive and encompasses technology development, conceptual design, instrument development, launch, subsequent operations, data collection and distribution, and research and analysis. NASA supports a number of national centers to archive and distribute data generated by missions. The agency uses a structured and transparent project management process that employs full-time project managers, regular milestone reviews, and budgeting of contingency reserves. While the committee observed that NASA gets good marks in general for its project management expertise, some projects have encountered difficulties. Typically, when cost growth has occurred during the development of a scientific mission, the mission specifications, including science goals, have been modified to keep the expected overall cost below a specified ceiling.
The Office of Space Science maintains the federally chartered Space Science Advisory Committee under the auspices of the NASA Advisory Council. This committee gathers input from the external scientific community on mission priorities, strategic planning, and ongoing activities. It has subcommittees corresponding to the science theme areas defined by the Office of Space Science’s strategic plan, as well as subcommittees for crosscutting areas such as technology development. Researchers selected broadly from the scientific community constitute the membership of the various committees. The chair of the Space Science Advisory Committee sits ex officio on the NASA Advisory Council. The Office of Space Science strategic planning process feeds into NASA’s agency-wide planning process. The Space Science Advisory Committee takes into account the National Research Council’s decadal reviews of astronomy and astrophysics and other reports and seeks NRC review of its strategy.
There is currently no formal mechanism for astronomy program coordination between NASA and NSF other than through the NRC’s Com-
For more information see <http://spacescience.nasa.gov>.