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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2001 1 Charter and Organization of the Board THE ORIGINS OF THE SPACE SCIENCE BOARD The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was chartered by Congress, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, to provide scientific and technical advice to the government of the United States. Over the years, the advisory program of the institution has expanded, leading in the course of time to the establishment of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Institute of Medicine, and of the National Research Council (NRC), the operational arm of the National Academies. The original charter of the Space Science Board was established in June 1958, three months before final legislation creating NASA was enacted. The Space Science Board and its successor, the Space Studies Board, have provided expert external and independent scientific and programmatic advice to NASA on a continuous basis from NASA’s inception until the present. The fundamental charter of the Board today remains that defined by National Academy of Sciences President Detlev W. Bronk in a letter to Lloyd V. Berkner, first chair of the Board, on June 26, 1958: We have talked of the main task of the Board in three parts—the immediate program, the long-range program, and the international aspects of both. In all three we shall look to the Board to be the focus of the interests and responsibilities of the Academy-Research Council in space science; to establish necessary relationships with civilian science and with governmental science activities, particularly the proposed new space agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency; to represent the Academy-Research Council complex in our international relations in this field on behalf of American science and scientists; to seek ways to stimulate needed research; to promote necessary coordination of scientific effort; and to provide such advice and recommendations to appropriate individuals and agencies with regard to space science as may in the Board’s judgment be desirable. As we have already agreed, the Board is intended to be an advisory, consultative, correlating, evaluating body and not an operating agency in the field of space science. It should avoid responsibility as a Board for the conduct of any programs of space research and for the formulation of budgets relative thereto. Advice to agencies properly responsible for these matters, on the other hand, would be within its purview to provide. Thus, the Space Studies Board (SSB) exists to provide an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications. The Board conducts advisory studies and program assessments, facilitates international research coordination, and promotes communications on space science and science policy between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public. With the reconstitution of the Board in 1988, it assumed similar responsibilities with respect to space applications. The Board also addresses scientific aspects of the nation’s program of human spaceflight.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2001 THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD TODAY The Space Studies Board (SSB) is a unit of the National Research Council’s Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS), and it reports to the Division for oversight. DEPS is one of six major program units of the NRC through which the institution conducts its operations on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. Within DEPS there are a total of 14 boards that cover a broad range of physical science and engineering disciplines and mission areas. Members of the DEPS Committee on Engineering and Physical Sciences provide advice on Board membership, advise on proposed new projects to be undertaken by the Board or its committees, and coordinate completion of the process of responding to external reviews of selected Board reports. On a triennial basis, DEPS also conducts a review of the overall operations of each of its boards. The last review of the SSB was in 2001. The Board meets three times per year to review the activities of its committees and task groups and to be briefed on and discuss major space policy issues. An internal executive committee composed of eight at-large members of the Board meets at least once a year and may convene via conference call at other times to plan for SSB activities and to advise the chair between meetings. All projects proposed to be conducted by standing committees or ad hoc task groups must first be reviewed and approved by the Board or its executive committee. The Board also reviews all draft reports developed by its committees and task groups before the reports go into external NRC review. MAJOR FUNCTIONS The Board’s overall advisory charter is implemented through three key functions: discipline oversight, interdisciplinary studies, and international activities. Oversight of Space Research Disciplines The Board has responsibility for scientific planning and oversight in the basic subdisciplines of space research. This responsibility is discharged through a structure of standing discipline committees and includes preparation of strategic research plans and prioritization of scientific objectives, as well as independent assessments of progress in these disciplines. The standard vehicle for providing long-term research guidance is the research strategy report. In addition, committees periodically prepare formal assessment reports that examine progress in their disciplines in comparison with published NRC advice. From time to time, in response to a sponsor or Board request or to circumstances requiring prompt and focused comment, a committee may prepare and submit a short, or “letter,” report. Ad hoc organizational arrangements address agency requests for broader space policy or organizational guidance. Other special agency requests that require responses synchronized with the federal budget cycle are relayed to standing committees for action or are taken up by ad hoc task groups. Individual discipline committees may be called upon by the Board to prepare specialized material for use by either the Board or its interdisciplinary committees or task groups. Interdisciplinary Studies Although the emphasis over the years has been on discipline planning and evaluation, the Board recognizes a need for crosscutting technical and policy studies in several important areas. To accomplish these objectives, the Board creates standing cross-disciplinary committees, internal committees, or ad hoc task groups. Internal committees, constituted entirely of appointed Board members, are formed to conduct short-duration studies or to lay the planning groundwork for subsequent formation of a regular committee or task group. Task groups resemble standing committees in structure and operation, except that they have predefined lifetimes, typically 1 to 3 years, and more narrowly bounded charters. The Board also organizes topical workshops and exercises the NRC’s convening function in other special activities. International Representation and Cooperation The Board continues to serve as the U.S. National Committee for the International Council for Science (ICSU) Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). In this capacity, the Board participates in a broad variety of COSPAR
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2001 panels and committees, and a member of the Board’s staff serves as executive secretary for the U.S. National Committee. As the economic and political integration of Europe evolves, so also does the integration of Europe’s space activities. The Board has successfully collaborated with the European space research community on a number of ad hoc joint studies and is continuing to strengthen its advisory relationship with this community. The Board has a regular practice of exchanging observers with the European Space Science Committee (ESSC), an entity of the European Science Foundation. It also has strengthened contacts with the Japanese program, beginning with a joint SSB-ESSC-Japanese Space Research Committee workshop held in Tokyo in 1999. More recently the Board has begun to explore discussions on international cooperation in space research with other spacefaring nations such as China and India. ORGANIZATION The current organization of the SSB is illustrated in Figure 1.1. The Space Studies Board The Board itself is composed of about two dozen prominent scientists, engineers, industrialists, scholars, and policy experts in space research, appointed for staggered 3-year terms. The Board is constituted in such a way as to include its standing committee chairs as members; other Board members serve on internal committees or perform FIGURE 1.1 Organization of the Space Studies Board and its committees and task groups.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2001 other special functions as designated by the Board chair. The Board seats the chair of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) as an ex officio member, and the U.S. representative to COSPAR ass a liaison member. A standing liaison arrangement also has been established with the chair of the ESSC. Internal Committees of the Board Internal committees facilitate the conduct of the Board’s business, carry out the Board’s own advisory projects, and permit the Board to move rapidly to lay the groundwork for new study activities. Internal committees are composed entirely of Board members. Members of internal committees and steering groups generally serve for 1 or 2 years and then are rotated for replacement by other members. One such internal committee is the Board’s Executive Committee, composed of one member from each major discipline area. Standing Committees Standing discipline committees are the means by which the Board conducts its oversight of space research disciplines. Each discipline committee is composed of about a dozen specialists, appointed to represent the broad sweep of research areas within the discipline. In addition to developing long-range research strategies and formal program and progress assessments in terms of these strategies, the standing committees sometimes organize ad hoc studies and provide oversight of the task groups created to conduct such studies. They also perform analysis tasks in support of interdisciplinary task groups and committees or in response to other requirements assigned by the Board. The standing committees in 2001 were as follows: Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA) Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP) Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life (COEL) Committee on Earth Studies (CES) Committee on Space Biology and Medicine (CSBM) Committee on Microgravity Research (CMGR) Committee on International Space Programs (CISP) Task Groups Ad hoc task groups are created by NRC action at the Board’s request. Ten task groups or ad hoc committees were in place in 2001. The Committee on the Organization and Management of Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics, which was organized jointly by the SSB and the Board on Physics and Astronomy, completed its work during the year. The Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization, which was formed in 1999, continued its work. The Task Group on Exploring Organic Environments in the Solar System, the Task Group on PI-led Earth Science Missions (under the auspices of CES), and the Task Group on the Availability and Usefulness of NASA’s Space Mission Data were established in 2000 and continued their work in 2001. The Task Group on Research on the International Space Station (under the auspices of CSBM), the Solar and Space Physics Survey Committee (under the auspices of CSSP), the Solar System Exploration Survey Steering Committee (under the auspices of COMPLEX), the Committee on Precursor Measurements Necessary to Support Human Operations on the Surface of Mars (formed jointly with ASEB), and the Committee on NASA-NOAA Transition from Research to Operations (formed jointly with the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and ASEB) were all established during 2001. Workshops, Symposia, and Special Projects Topical workshops or symposia occasionally provide the most effective vehicle for addressing certain needs of the government or the scientific community. In 2001, the Steering Committee on Space Applications and Commercialization held the second in its series of workshops on issues relevant to remote sensing applications and commercialization.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2001 DISSEMINATION Formal reports delivered to government sponsors constitute one of the primary products of the work of the SSB, but the dissemination process has a number of other important elements. The Board is always seeking ways to ensure that its work reaches the broadest possible appropriate audience and that it has the largest beneficial impact. Copies of reports are routinely provided to key executive branch officials, members and staffs of relevant congressional committees, and members of other interested NRC and federal advisory bodies. Members of the press are notified about the release of each new report, and the Board maintains a substantial mailing list for distribution of reports to members of the space research community. The SSB publishes the executive summaries of all new reports in its quarterly newsletter that is made widely available, both by mail and by e-mail. The Board also offers briefings by committee chairs and members or SSB staff to agency officials and scientific societies. All reports are posted on the SSB World Wide Web home page at <www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html> and linked to the institution’s site for reports at <www.nap.edu>. Dissemination efforts were expanded in 2000 via participation at exhibits at a number of major national scientific and technical meetings. COLLABORATION WITH OTHER NRC UNITS Much of the work of the Board involves topics that fall entirely within its principal areas of responsibility and can be addressed readily by its members and its committees. However, there are other situations where the need for breadth of expertise, alternative points of view, or synergy with other NRC projects lead to compelling arguments for collaboration with other units of the NRC. The Space Studies Board has been engaged in many such multiunit collaborations, and the increasingly interdisciplinary, multidimensional character of contemporary science and technology is likely to lead to more cross-NRC activities. This approach to projects has the potential to bring more of the full capability of the National Academies to bear in preparing advice for the government. Multiunit collaborative projects also present new challenges, namely to manage them in a way that achieves economies of scale and true synergy rather than just adding cost or complexity. Collaborative relationships between the SSB and other NRC units during 2000 are illustrated in Figure 1.1.
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