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Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration
Solar System Exploration. Robotic exploration across the solar system to search for evidence of life, to understand the history of the solar system, to search for resources, and to support human exploration.*
Search for Earth-Like Planets. Search for Earth-like planets and habitable environments around other stars using advanced telescopes.*
Exploration Transportation System. Develop a new launch system and crew exploration vehicle to provide transportation to and beyond low Earth orbit.
International Space Station. Complete assembly of the International Space Station and focus research to support space exploration goals, with emphasis on understanding how the space environment affects human health and capabilities, and developing countermeasures.*
Space Shuttle. Return the space shuttle to flight, complete assembly of the International Space Station, and safely transition from the space shuttle to a new exploration transportation system.*
Universe Exploration. Explore the universe to understand its origin, structure, evolution, and destiny.*
Earth Science and Applications from Space. Research and technology development to advance Earth observation from space, improve scientific understanding, and demonstrate new technologies with the potential to improve future operational systems.*
Sun-Solar System Connection. Explore the Sun-Earth system to understand the Sun and its effects on the Earth, the solar system, and the space environmental conditions that will be experienced by human explorers.
Aeronautical Technologies. Advance aeronautical technologies to meet the challenges of next-generation systems in aviation, for civilian and scientific purposes, in our atmosphere and in the atmospheres of other worlds.
Education. Use NASA missions and other activities to inspire and motivate the nation's students and teachers, to engage and educate the public, and to advance the nation's scientific and technological capabilities.
Nuclear Systems. Utilize nuclear systems for the advancement of space science and exploration.
Eight of these objectives have a scientific component and are so noted (*). NASA officials have indicated that strategic roadmaps will be developed that will outline the agency’s plans for accomplishing each of these objectives.
The committee reviewed the 13 NASA strategic objectives, particularly those relating to science, and finds them to be comprehensive and appropriate. They have the potential to cover all of the scientific goals identified by the science community that should be pursued under NASA’s broad mission statement, which in turn is supported by the recent policy directives governing NASA. However, the committee recognized that the real challenge will be to develop an appropriate mechanism to integrate these different efforts and, where appropriate, to develop interdisciplinary programs in support of a sustainable and affordable space exploration endeavor.
PLANNING FOR SCIENCE SELECTION
The breadth of NASA’s strategic objectives is an important strength. The topics do not distinguish between science and human exploration. Rather, they recognize that each topic offers the opportunity to advance, and to benefit from, understanding of the universe in which we live, and each is a worthy endeavor in a strong space exploration program. Therefore the committee recommends that, as