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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs AN ASSESSMENT OF BALANCE IN NASA’S SCIENCE PROGRAMS Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study is based on work supported by the Contract NASW-01001 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 0-309-10221-9 Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs Other Reports of the Space Studies Board Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions: Letter Report (SSB, 2006) Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce (SSB with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2006) The Astrophysical Context of Life (SSB with the Board on Life Sciences, 2005) Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation (2005) Extending the Effective Lifetimes of Earth Observing Research Missions (2005) Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars (2005) Principal-Investigator-Led Missions in the Space Sciences (2005) Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SSB with ASEB, 2005) Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences (2005) Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station (2005) Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration (2005) Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2004) Exploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar Medium: A Workshop Report (2004) Issues and Opportunities Regarding the U.S. Space Program: A Summary Report of a Workshop on National Space Policy (SSB with ASEB, 2004) Plasma Physics of the Local Cosmos (2004) Review of Science Requirements for the Terrestrial Planet Finder: Letter Report (2004) Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration (2004) Understanding the Sun and Solar System Plasmas: Future Directions in Solar and Space Physics (2004) Utilization of Operational Environmental Satellite Data: Ensuring Readiness for 2010 and Beyond (SSB with ASEB and the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate [BASC], 2004) Satellite Observations of the Earth’s Environment: Accelerating the Transition of Research to Operations (SSB with ASEB and BASC, 2003) Steps to Facilitate Principal-Investigator-Led Earth Science Missions (2003) The Sun to the Earthand Beyond: Panel Reports (2003) Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2002) New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2002) The Sun to Earthand Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002) Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council The Keck Center of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 (202) email@example.com www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release, which in some cases precedes the year of publication.
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs COMMITTEE ON AN ASSESSMENT OF BALANCE IN NASA’S SCIENCE PROGRAMS LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired), Vice Chair SPIRO K. ANTIOCHOS, Naval Research Laboratory DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado RETA F. BEEBE, New Mexico State University ROGER D. BLANDFORD, Stanford University RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado JUDITH A. CURRY, Georgia Institute of Technology JACK D. FARMER, Arizona State University JACQUELINE N. HEWITT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DONALD E. INGBER, Harvard Medical School BRUCE M. JAKOSKY, University of Colorado KLAUS KEIL, University of Hawaii DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, RAND Corporation CALVIN W. LOWE, Bowie State University BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire FRANK E. MULLER-KARGER, University of South Florida SUZANNE OPARIL, University of Alabama, Birmingham RONALD F. PROBSTEIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DENNIS W. READEY, Colorado School of Mines HARVEY D. TANANBAUM, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory J. CRAIG WHEELER, University of Texas, Austin A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired) Staff JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Study Director DWAYNE A. DAY, Research Associate CLAUDETTE K. BAYLOR-FLEMING, Administrative Assistant CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs SPACE STUDIES BOARD LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired), Vice Chair SPIRO K. ANTIOCHOS, Naval Research Laboratory DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado RETA F. BEEBE, New Mexico State University ROGER D. BLANDFORD, Stanford University RADFORD BYERLY, JR., University of Colorado JUDITH A. CURRY, Georgia Institute of Technology JACK D. FARMER, Arizona State University JACQUELINE N. HEWITT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DONALD E. INGBER, Harvard Medical School RALPH H. JACOBSON, The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory (retired) TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory KLAUS KEIL, University of Hawaii DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, RAND Corporation CALVIN W. LOWE, Bowie State University BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire NORMAN NEUREITER, Texas Instruments (retired) SUZANNE OPARIL, University of Alabama, Birmingham RONALD F. PROBSTEIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology DENNIS W. READEY, Colorado School of Mines HARVEY D. TANANBAUM, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory RICHARD H. TRULY, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (retired) J. CRAIG WHEELER, University of Texas, Austin A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired) GARY P. ZANK, University of California, Riverside MARCIA S. SMITH, Director
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs Preface Congress, in the report accompanying the FY 2005 appropriation bill for NASA, directed “the National Academies’ Space Studies Board (SSB) to conduct a thorough review of the science that NASA is proposing to undertake under the space exploration initiative and to develop a strategy by which all of NASA’s science disciplines, including Earth science, space science, and life and microgravity science, as well as the science conducted aboard the International Space Station, can make adequate progress towards their established goals, as well as providing balanced scientific research in addition to support of the new initiative.”1 In partial response to the congressional request, the National Research Council (NRC) has provided advisory assistance in (1) examining how science could be integrated into NASA’s exploration efforts2 and (2) reviewing NASA strategic planning roadmaps related to science3 and plans for research on the International Space Station (ISS).4 The first component of the NRC’s response addressed the strategy for decision making about science programs and recommended a set of guiding principles for setting priorities. The second component, review of the roadmaps and plans for research aboard the ISS, addressed NASA’s initial plans within specific discipline areas. These responses, in part, address initial directions proposed by NASA through early 2005. After the NRC had completed the above steps, NASA’s senior leadership implemented revisions of NASA’s planning process and a rebalancing of programmatic priorities. Soon after being appointed in April 2005, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin indicated, in public statements, his general support of the role of science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration (“the Vision”).5 He also embraced the value of pursuing an approach that encompasses both robotic missions and human spaceflight, and he expressed the importance of preserving balance across NASA’s science programs. At the same time, Administrator Griffin altered the schedule of the agency’s planning process and modified the original plans for NRC review of all NASA roadmaps and of NASA’s integrated strategy so as to have the NRC review only the science roadmaps. Consequently, the NRC did not have an opportunity in 2005 to assess NASA’s integrated strategy for pursuing both established scientific goals and science initiatives in support of human exploration, and thus the SSB’s response to Congress was incomplete. In February 2006, NASA released both the agency’s FY 2007 budget request and a new agency strategic plan. These materials provide the first indication of NASA’s integrated strategy and the choices that NASA has made among scientific programs within the context of the Vision. The present report provides the NRC’s assessment of NASA’s integrated strategy and proposed science program, as indicated in materials that accompany the NASA FY 2007 budget request, and it provides the third and final component of the NRC’s advisory response to the FY 2005 congressional appropriations report mandate. 1 Conference Report on H.R. 4818, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, H. Rept. 108-792, p. 1599. 2 National Research Council, Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005. 3 National Research Council, Review of Goals and Plans for NASA’s Space and Earth Sciences, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006. 4 National Research Council, Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006. 5 The Vision for Space Exploration initiative was announced by President George W. Bush on January 14, 2004, and is outlined in The Vision for Space Exploration, NP-2004-01-334-HQ, NASA, Washington, D.C., 2004.
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs This report was prepared by the ad hoc Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs,6 which was established under the auspices of the SSB. The committee was charged to consider whether the NASA science program, as articulated in the FY 2007 budget estimate and supplementary information and its out-year run-out, is: Appropriately inclusive of all relevant science disciplines (Earth and planetary sciences, life and microgravity sciences, astronomy and astrophysics, and solar and space physics); Robust and capable of making adequate progress toward scientific goals as recommended in NRC decadal surveys; and Appropriately balanced to reflect cross-disciplinary scientific priorities within the appropriate directorate, as recommended in NRC decadal surveys and other relevant scientific reviews.7 The committee tasked the discipline-oriented standing committees of the SSB8 to review the NASA program plans in their respective areas and to provide for the committee’s consideration discipline-specific assessments of the match between previously established scientific goals and the ability of the science program described in the proposed FY 2007 budget to achieve those goals. The committee met on March 6-8, 2006, to hear from NASA and other government officials about the programs embodied in the FY 2007 budget proposals, to receive the reports of the SSB standing committee chairs, and to discuss the committee’s response to its charge.9 The committee also drew on the guiding principles recommended in the NRC report Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration to assess NASA’s decision making across scientific programs and the integrated approach to the program, and the committee referred to published NRC decadal surveys10 when assessing individual disciplines as well as NRC advice regarding the contribution of particular science disciplines in NASA’s Vision. 6 See Appendix C for biographies of the committee members. 7 See Appendix A for the full statement of task. 8 The standing committees are the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration, the Committee on Solar and Space Physics, the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life, and the Committee on Earth Studies. 9 See Appendix B for the meeting agenda. 10 The NRC decadal surveys have been widely used by the scientific community and by program decision makers because they (a) present explicit, consensus priorities for the most important, potentially revolutionary science that should be undertaken within the span of a decade; (b) develop priorities for future investments in research facilities, space missions, and/or supporting programs; (c) rank competing opportunities and ideas and clearly indicate which ones are of higher or lower priority in terms of the timing, risk, and cost of their implementation; and (d) make the difficult adverse decisions about other meritorious ideas that cannot be accommodated within realistically available resources.
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., Carnegie Institution of Washington, Tamara E. Jernigan, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Christopher McKee, University of California, Berkeley, Simon Ostrach, Case Western Reserve University, Robert Palmer, House Committee on Science (retired), Robert Serafin, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Richard H. Truly, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (retired). Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 5 NASA 2006 Strategic Plan, 8 NASA Science Provisions for FY 2007 and Beyond, 8 2 HEALTH OF THE DISCIPLINE PROGRAMS 11 Astrophysics, 11 Heliophysics, 15 Planetary Science, 17 Astrobiology, 20 Earth Science, 21 Microgravity Life and Physical Sciences, 24 3 FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 29 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task 37 B Meeting Agenda 38 C Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 40 D Acronyms and Abbreviations 44
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