7
Crosscutting and Integration Issues

Taken together, the six roadmaps reviewed by the panel demonstrate vibrancy and excitement and show great promise. Such defects as were identified during the panel’s review are, in the main, the result of the very brief time allotted by NASA for the roadmap committees to do their work.

Accordingly, the roadmap committees were not able to draw on the broadest possible inputs from the entire science community or spend the time in deliberations typical of the NRC decadal survey process (decadal surveys take approximately 2 years to complete) or have sufficient opportunity for interaction among the various planning activities going on in parallel. The strategic roadmaps also did not have the benefit of an external review process, again in contrast to the extensive in-depth review process to which NRC decadal surveys are subjected.

The panel was struck by the relative paucity of crosscutting activities and issues identified in the individual roadmaps. The two examples below are intended solely as illustrations of the kinds of issues that need to be considered in the integration process, and not as an indication of priorities:

  • Use of exploration infrastructure. The panel believes that the science roadmap committees did not adequately consider the potential use of capabilities now being planned or considered by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). For example, such capabilities might include in-space construction and servicing by humans or robots, which could substantially change the engineering and operational options available for the missions outlined in the science roadmaps. Such servicing could potentially extend the useful life of future missions and allow for periodic upgrades. An obvious example of these benefits, described in a recent NRC report,1 derives from the Hubble Space Telescope experience. Large telescopes being used for the universe missions or Earth-like planets missions potentially could be made more economical through periodic instrument upgrades and replacement of components either by humans or robots, extending the lifetime of an astronomical observatory significantly beyond that planned for currently expendable spacecraft. ESMD in-space capability also eventually could provide in-space integration and testing, thereby avoiding the limits associated with Earth’s gravity and atmosphere. This, in turn, could enable a new generation of large optical systems without many of the scalability limits that now exist. Although this example is intended to be illustrative only, the panel believes that it indicates how new opportunities exist in the exploration program that can be exploited by the science program. The NRC has previously stated that exploration, properly done, is science,2 and the panel thinks that exploration, properly done, can benefit science in myriad ways. The panel urges NASA management to ensure that an effective flow of requirements on these topics occurs from the Science Mission Directorate to ESMD and that, to maximize efficiency, infrastructure planning in ESMD be influenced by these requirements.

  • Synergism between the science goals for lunar and for martian exploration. Although the Mars roadmap urges that the definition of lunar science be derived from the needs of martian research, the panel notes that the Moon also is a scientific target of significance in its own right. The Moon is an important location for characterizing conditions in the very early solar system, and its properties should be better understood independent of goals for Mars. To engage in a lunar science program that derives strictly from goals for Mars exploration is too narrow a focus. Equally too narrow is a program of lunar research that concentrates only on characterizing the surface resources, safety issues, and environmental



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Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences 7 Crosscutting and Integration Issues Taken together, the six roadmaps reviewed by the panel demonstrate vibrancy and excitement and show great promise. Such defects as were identified during the panel’s review are, in the main, the result of the very brief time allotted by NASA for the roadmap committees to do their work. Accordingly, the roadmap committees were not able to draw on the broadest possible inputs from the entire science community or spend the time in deliberations typical of the NRC decadal survey process (decadal surveys take approximately 2 years to complete) or have sufficient opportunity for interaction among the various planning activities going on in parallel. The strategic roadmaps also did not have the benefit of an external review process, again in contrast to the extensive in-depth review process to which NRC decadal surveys are subjected. The panel was struck by the relative paucity of crosscutting activities and issues identified in the individual roadmaps. The two examples below are intended solely as illustrations of the kinds of issues that need to be considered in the integration process, and not as an indication of priorities: Use of exploration infrastructure. The panel believes that the science roadmap committees did not adequately consider the potential use of capabilities now being planned or considered by NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). For example, such capabilities might include in-space construction and servicing by humans or robots, which could substantially change the engineering and operational options available for the missions outlined in the science roadmaps. Such servicing could potentially extend the useful life of future missions and allow for periodic upgrades. An obvious example of these benefits, described in a recent NRC report,1 derives from the Hubble Space Telescope experience. Large telescopes being used for the universe missions or Earth-like planets missions potentially could be made more economical through periodic instrument upgrades and replacement of components either by humans or robots, extending the lifetime of an astronomical observatory significantly beyond that planned for currently expendable spacecraft. ESMD in-space capability also eventually could provide in-space integration and testing, thereby avoiding the limits associated with Earth’s gravity and atmosphere. This, in turn, could enable a new generation of large optical systems without many of the scalability limits that now exist. Although this example is intended to be illustrative only, the panel believes that it indicates how new opportunities exist in the exploration program that can be exploited by the science program. The NRC has previously stated that exploration, properly done, is science,2 and the panel thinks that exploration, properly done, can benefit science in myriad ways. The panel urges NASA management to ensure that an effective flow of requirements on these topics occurs from the Science Mission Directorate to ESMD and that, to maximize efficiency, infrastructure planning in ESMD be influenced by these requirements. Synergism between the science goals for lunar and for martian exploration. Although the Mars roadmap urges that the definition of lunar science be derived from the needs of martian research, the panel notes that the Moon also is a scientific target of significance in its own right. The Moon is an important location for characterizing conditions in the very early solar system, and its properties should be better understood independent of goals for Mars. To engage in a lunar science program that derives strictly from goals for Mars exploration is too narrow a focus. Equally too narrow is a program of lunar research that concentrates only on characterizing the surface resources, safety issues, and environmental

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Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences factors pertinent to human exploration. A balanced program of benefit to both the science and the exploration communities is required. To this end, NASA management should ensure that there is an effective flow of communication between the lunar and Mars programs on scientific, technical, and infrastructure issues and that the science community is thoroughly engaged in the definition of the missions that will be conducted. The Moon can be a platform for conducting nonlunar science, possibly through the use of antennas and telescopes, measurement of radiation environments, and other types of science. The panel urges NASA, as part of the strategic planning activities, to pay special attention to issues that span more than one of the roadmaps. PRINCIPLES OF INTEGRATING SCIENCE STRATEGIC ROADMAPS We live in an extraordinarily rich age of scientific discovery and opportunity. The exploration vision has opened the time horizon so that the plans are not limited by the immediate fiscal years but extend more than a generation into the future. Unfortunately, available resources are, and are likely to be, limited. It is in this context of extraordinary opportunity, and an expanded time horizon for planning, that guiding principles are needed for setting priorities in NASA’s integrated plan for space and Earth science research. This report follows an earlier report from the Space Studies Board titled Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.3 That report, prepared and issued while the NASA strategic roadmap planning effort was just beginning in early 2005, developed a set of guiding principles to assist NASA in making decisions affecting the overall science program in the context of the president’s space exploration initiative. The six roadmaps reviewed in the present report represent inputs to NASA’s strategic planning process rather than finalized documents presenting agency policy. The panel, in addition to reviewing each of the roadmaps individually, considered the principles that should be used for prioritization and integration, leading to an overall space and Earth science exploration program spanning more than two decades. These principles are an expansion and amplification of the principles noted in Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. NASA should apply the guiding principles below in integrating the exciting scientific promise evident in the strategic roadmaps into a robust, coherent, enduring science program that will serve the nation now and for future generations. Advancing Intellectual Understanding Scientific merit, as measured by the capability of advancing intellectual understanding of the cosmos and our place in it, should be a guiding principle in planning. The goals and objectives set forth in relevant NRC decadal surveys and similar reports should be the primary criteria for setting priorities and program content. The survey process has become a well-established way of providing broad-based, intellectually rigorous input to NASA. This process has been one of the foundations that has enabled NASA to develop an outstanding science program with a long and successful record to its credit. These surveys have always striven to identify the most important, revolutionary science that should be undertaken and, as such, have set a high bar of excellence. The NRC decadal surveys have benefited from the broad inputs by the science community and are recognized for their credibility and stability. Science that is enabled by exploration should be held to the same standard of scientific merit and advancing intellectual understanding as the science goals embodied and recommended in past NRC decadal surveys. As the capabilities of the space exploration initiative develop, the appropriate distribution of research between humans and robots also will have to be weighed in regard to that standard. A direct implication of applying the standard of advancing the intellectual understanding of the universe around us when making decisions about the content of a robust space exploration program is that

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Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences such a program should pursue exploration in a broad rather than a narrow sense. This approach was explicitly recommended in the report Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.4 That report urged that targets for exploration should include the Earth where we live, the objects of the solar system where humans may be able to visit, the broader solar system including the Sun, and the vast universe beyond, and that the targets should be those that have the greatest opportunity to advance our understanding of how the universe works, who we are, where we came from, and what our ultimate destiny is. An exploration effort that falls short of such a comprehensive perspective risks undermining the broad strengths that NASA’s science programs have developed to date. For example, a recent letter report5 on progress in astronomy and astrophysics toward meeting the goals of the most recent decadal survey6 noted serious concerns over near-term effects that are already being experienced owing to NASA’s decisions to accelerate certain advanced mission concepts at the expense of a broader program that follows the priorities of the decadal survey. As a second example, the report Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Issues and Opportunities7 sounded the alarm about the effects of program cancellations, reductions in scope, or deferrals that appear to be driven by major shifts in NASA priorities toward implementing the vision for space exploration.a Program Span, Diversity, Stability, and Flexibility The integrated science program constructed by NASA should have characteristics such that all major scientific disciplines can make progress toward their goals as established in NRC decadal surveys or other similar reports. Decisions at the decision or option points noted in the various roadmaps will benefit greatly from the broad science community’s involvement in the decision process. No discipline represented by the six strategic roadmaps should be allowed to dominate or wither, because they are all interrelated. The program should be discovery driven and not rigid, allowing exciting new discoveries to be rapidly accommodated within a program plan. Flexibility is enhanced by having a mix of small, highly responsive missions as well as flagship missions that may take the better part of a decade to complete. The mix of missions also provides opportunities for the training and development of scientists and engineers. Creating Opportunities for the Future The challenge for NASA, and the nation, is to build a space exploration program that transcends the current generation of scientists and engineers. A robust, sustainable aerospace community is required. Investing in the intellectual foundation and physical infrastructure of the nation that provide the basis for the capability of space exploration—and in the stewardship of that infrastructure—is a daunting but essential task if we are to continue to be a space-faring nation. Explicit strategies for developing the next generation of space scientists and space engineersand the generation after thatare needed. Spanning public outreach and education, these strategies need to have a scope commensurate with the scope of the vision for space exploration. A reasonably stable space research and space engineering community is necessary for the realization of the full scope of the exploration vision. If stable funding is not available, the research community may not remain involved in, or may disengage from, specific fields that will eventually be critical—either for realizing the vision for exploration or for advancing the various disciplines of space sciences and Earth observation. Research and analysis programs, theory programs, and rocket- and a   Specifically, the report stated, “Opportunities to discover new knowledge about Earth are diminished as mission after mission is canceled, descoped, or delayed because of budget cutbacks, which appear to be largely the result of new obligations to support flight programs that are part of the administration’s vision for space exploration” (p. 1).

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Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences balloon-based research programs provide the training and experience base at our universities and research institutes and will serve to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers. These programs need to be evaluated, judged, and prioritized using the same high standards applied to initiatives described in NRC decadal surveys and endorsed by the panel, but they must be integrated into the overall program. A continuing, vigorous development of technology is necessary for the success of the exploration program. Advanced technology needs should be assessed, prioritized, and properly funded so that technologies with long lead times can be developed in time to reduce mission technical risk as well as schedule and cost risk. Multiple-use technologiestechnologies applicable to several branches of the space sciences, for example, spanning several of the science disciplines addressed by the roadmapsshould receive special consideration. Capabilities to handle the communications and data transmission and storage and archive loads of space exploration require assessment and appropriate investment for timely implementation. Five of the six roadmaps reviewed expressed a need for the upgrading of the Deep Space Network functionality. Although individual roadmaps differed concerning specific requirements, the panel found common themes: needs for increased downlink data rates and improved data access, distribution and management, storage, archiving, and retrieval. The NASA roadmap integration and strategic planning process should consider these needs as a vital part of developing the space exploration initiative infrastructure. The NRC decadal surveys and similar reports have already proved useful for defining near-term mission priorities. These decadal surveys also can be used to define near-term technology investments. Planning for missions that extend past the time horizon of the decadal surveys should be accompanied by appropriate technology investments. Amplifying the Span, Reach, Impact, and Strength of the NASA Exploration Program This review of the NASA strategic roadmaps suggests that there is much to be gained by enhancing the connections with other agencies of the executive branch that have responsibilities or interests in space research and space technology. These agencies include NOAA, DOD, DOE, and NSF. Although elements of cooperation and coordination are already in place, the time horizon and scope of the exploration vision are so extraordinary that a fundamental reexamination of existing arrangements seems to be called for. In particular, the impact of space research now transcends the space science community and involves nonscientistswitness the impact of the space-based Earth sciences on agriculture, fisheries, and a host of other enterprises and activities at the commercial, industrial, and state level. Reinvigorating the transition from space research to operationstypically from NASA to NOAAand enhancing the ultimate use of space data by a host of enterprises should be important goals. These goals suggest the importance of early involvement of other stakeholders (operations as well as applications) besides NASA in the formulation of exploration programs relevant to the interests of these other actors. International Cooperation and Coordination In many areas of space science there is a rich heritage of cooperation with other space-faring nations. Such cooperation has proved extremely fruitful in maximizing the science returns from space missions. NASA has had a decades-long history of international cooperation in space activitiesboth in crewed space programs and in uncrewed science missions. Furthermore, many national space agencies around the world have committed significant resources over the years to cooperation with NASA programs. This cooperation has been a valuable contributor in providing a platform for displaying U.S. scientific and technological prowess. Space cooperation has provided direct scientific benefits to both the United States and the other cooperating nations. Although it recognizes that international cooperation can

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Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences have its negative aspects as well, the panel believes that the subject is worthy of greater attention in NASA scientific strategic planning than it has received in these roadmaps. The extraordinary scope of the space exploration vision and the multigenerational span of this initiative provide an opportunity for the United States to seek out partners from other nations to join in this grand adventure. The panel recognizes that, as has been pointed out in previous NRC reports,8,9 current implementation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) continues to be a serious impediment to international cooperation; however, the overwhelming imperative of the space exploration initiative—and the president’s invitation for other nations to join this endeavor—demand a renewed effort to ameliorate the effects of ITAR so that its goals can be obtained without unduly affecting NASA’s efforts in international cooperation with foreign partners. REFERENCES 1. National Research Council (NRC). 2005. Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 2. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 3. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. 4. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. 5. NRC. 2005. “Review of Progress in Astronomy and Astrophysics Toward the Decadal Vision: Letter Report.” The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 6. NRC. 2001. Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 7. NRC. 2005. Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Issues and Opportunities to Serve the Nation [interim report]. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 8. NRC. 1999. U.S-European-Japanese Workshop on Space Cooperation. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 30. 9. NRC. 2002. The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 160-161.