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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2004 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 (SSB), 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 exists to provide an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications, and it serves as the focal point within the National Academies for activities on space research. It 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. The SSB also serves as the U.S. National Committee for the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science (ICSU).
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2004 THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD TODAY The Space Studies Board is a unit of the NRC’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 and advise on proposed new projects to be undertaken by the Board or its committees. Every 3 years the DEPS Committee also reviews the overall operations of each of its boards, with the most recent review having been conducted in September 2004. 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 seven 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, and the Board monitors the progress of the projects throughout the course of the studies. 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 discipline-oriented committees. 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 a short, or “letter,” report. 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 traditionally has been on discipline planning and evaluation, the Board also recognizes a need for crosscutting technical and policy studies. To accomplish these objectives, the Board creates ad hoc task groups or internal committees. 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. 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. The Board also organizes topical workshops and exercises the NRC’s convening function in other special activities. International Representation and Cooperation The Board serves as the U.S. National Committee for ICSU’s Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), an international, multidisciplinary forum for exchanging space science research. The current Board-appointed U.S. representative to COSPAR is also COSPAR vice president and thereby participates in the oversight of COSPAR’s business, finances, and operations as a member of the COSPAR Bureau. A member of the Board’s staff serves as executive secretary for the U.S. National Committee. Both the U.S. representative and executive secretary participated in activities organized in 2004 to consider future directions for COSPAR as an organization. Board
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2004 members may individually participate in COSPAR scientific sessions to present their research or, occasionally, to present the results of an SSB report to the international community The Board has a regular practice of exchanging observers with the European Space Science Committee (ESSC), an entity of the European Science Foundation, and, on occasion, conducts informal information exchange sessions with national entities such as Japan and China within COSPAR scientific assemblies. At the 2004 COSPAR scientific assembly, the Board chair and executive secretary to COSPAR participated in an informal gathering of representatives from China, Japan, and the ESSC to discuss current issues in national and regional space programs relevant to international cooperation. In addition, the Board has closely monitored developments, for example U.S. implementation of export controls and NASA’s vision for space exploration, that have implications for international scientific cooperation. ORGANIZATION The organization of the SSB in 2004 is illustrated in Figure 1.1. Taken together the Board and its committees and task groups held a total of 48 meetings during the year. The Space Studies Board The Board itself is composed of 27 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 FIGURE 1.1 Organization of the Space Studies Board and its committees and task groups. Shaded boxes denote activities performed in cooperation with other NRC units.
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2004 standing committee chairs as members; other Board members serve on internal committees or perform other special functions as designated by the Board chair. The Board seats the chair of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) and the U.S. representative to COSPAR as ex officio members. A standing liaison arrangement also has been established with the chair of the ESSC. Internal Committees of the Board Internal committees, composed entirely of Board members, 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. One such internal committee is the Board’s Executive Committee, composed of one member from each major discipline area. The Executive Committee met on August 24-26, 2004, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, for its annual session on assessment of SSB operations and future planning. 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 assisting in 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 2004 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) Task Groups Ad hoc task groups are created by NRC action at the Board’s request. Three task groups or ad hoc committees completed their work during 2004, and three existing groups continued their projects during the year. In addition, eight new task groups were established during 2004. WORKSHOPS, SYMPOSIA, AND SPECIAL PROJECTS Topical workshops or symposia occasionally provide the most effective vehicle for addressing certain needs of the government or the research community. In 2004, the Board published the report on the 2003 Space Policy Workshop (organized jointly with the ASEB), and the SSB Committee on Solar and Space Physics organized a workshop on the role of space physics in space exploration and a workshop on distributed arrays of small instruments. 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
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2004 of reports to members of the space research community. The SSB publishes the executive summaries of all new reports in its quarterly newsletter, which 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. Reports are posted on the SSB Web home page at www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html and linked to the institution’s site for reports at www.nap.edu. The SSB teamed with other NRC units to exhibit and distribute copies of recent reports at the January 2004 meeting of the American Astronomical Society and the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union. In 2004, the SSB also secured NRC funds to support a special dissemination project—a publication for lay audiences on the decadal solar and space physics survey report. COLLABORATION WITH OTHER NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL 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 committees. However, there are other situations in which the need for breadth of expertise, alternative points of view, or synergy with other NRC projects leads 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 the projects 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 2004 are illustrated in Figure 1.1. INTERNSHIP PROGRAM The SSB has operated a very successful summer internship program since 1992. The general goal of the internship is to provide a promising undergraduate student an opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the nation’s capital, under the aegis of the National Academies. The intern works with the Board, its committees, and staff on one or more of the advisory projects currently underway. In 2004 the program was expanded to include two interns.
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