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Summaries of Major Reports

This chapter reprints the executive summaries of reports that were released in 2005 (note that the official publication date may be 2006).



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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4 Summaries of Major Reports This chapter reprints the executive summaries of reports that were released in 2005 (note that the official publication date may be 2006).

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4.1 The Astrophysical Context of Life A Report of the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life Executive Summary BACKGROUND The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Astrobiology Roadmap summarizes astrobiology in the following way:1 “Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.” Astrobiology thus addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Does life exist elsewhere in the universe? What is the future of life on Earth and beyond? The Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life was charged with investigating ways to augment and integrate the contributions of astronomy and astrophysics in astrobiology—in particular, in NASA’s astrobiology program and in relevant programs in other federal agencies. The goals set for this study were as follows: Identify areas where there can be especially fruitful collaborations between astrophysicists, biologists, biochemists, chemists, and planetary geologists. Define areas where astrophysics, biology, chemistry, and geology are ripe for mutually beneficial interchanges and define areas that are likely to remain independent for the near future. Suggest areas where current activities of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other agencies might augment NASA programs. In considering how to achieve these general goals, the committee focused on the key words in the statement of task (Appendix A): “to study the means to augment and integrate the activity of astronomy and astrophysics in the intellectual enterprise of astrobiology,” in particular on the words “augment” and “integrate.” It understood “augment” as an instruction to find issues in astronomical/astrobiological research where fruitful work could be done that is not now being done. The integration of interdisciplinary research topics is relevant to all the areas of astrobiology research, not just with respect to astronomy. The topic stimulated broad interest on the part of all the committee members and led to some generic—but, the committee believes, important—recommendations designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research. The discussions about the charge led to the committee’s specific approach to the study and to the structure of the report. Seven tasks were identified: Outline current astronomical research relevant to astrobiology. Define important areas that are relatively understudied and hence in need of more attention and support. Address the means to integrate astrophysical research into the astrobiology enterprise. Identify areas where there can be especially fruitful collaboration among astrophysicists, biologists, chemists, biochemists, planetary geologists, and planetary scientists that will serve the goals of astrobiological research. Identify areas of astronomy that are likely to remain remote from the astrobiological enterprise. Suggest areas where ongoing research sponsored by NSF, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) can augment NASA support of astrobiological research and education in a manner that complements the astronomical interconnection with other disciplines. Where applicable, point out the relevance to NASA missions. NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from The Astrophysical Context of Life, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 1-6. 1 Available online at <http://astrobiology.arc.nasa.gov/roadmap/>.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 PRINCIPAL CONCLUSIONS Astrophysical research is a vital part of astrobiology today, especially with the addition of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) nodes that are primarily focused on astrophysics. This report identifies still more areas where astrophysical research can contribute to astrobiology, including the galactic environment, cosmic irradiation in its myriad forms, bolide impacts, interstellar and circumstellar chemistry, prebiotic chemistry, and photosynthesis and molecular evolution in an astronomical context. Astronomy brings two important perspectives to the study of astrobiology. One is to encourage thinking in a nonterracentric way. The opportunities are vast for different conditions to produce different outcomes for life, even within the standard paradigm of carbon-based life with a nucleotide-based coding system. The ambient conditions could be different—hotter, colder, more radiation or less—and the coding system could be different. It will be a challenge to discern the most important convergent processes when the details of overwhelmingly complex life are different. The other perspective that astronomy brings to astrobiology is that the astronomical environment—from the host star, to the ambient interstellar gas through which a planetary system passes in its galactic journey, to cosmic explosions—is intrinsically variable. The dominant driver of this variability is probably the host star, which is likely to be susceptible to violent chromospheric activity and nearly continuous flares when it is young or if its mass is less than that of the Sun, the most likely situation. Life in an intrinsically variable environment raises deep and interesting issues of fluctuating mutation rates, genetic variation processes, and the evolution of complexity—and even of evolvability itself. Some of these issues overlap with topics being pursued in biomedical research. This study attempts to identify areas where astrophysical research can fruitfully interact with research in the other disciplines of astrobiology: biology, geology, and chemistry. It also identifies some broad issues involved in integrating astronomy within astrobiology. First, there is a need to recognize when astronomical research is relevant to astrobiology and when it is not. The consensus is that to be relevant to astrobiology, astronomical research should be “life-oriented.” This is a broad and dynamic filter through which not all astronomical research will pass. Second, there is the need to integrate astrophysical research in the astrobiology effort. Here the report urges the NAI teams to develop metrics for determining when truly integrated interdisciplinary work involving astrophysics is being done and to actively promote that integration. The third broad issue is that of integrating work in an intrinsically interdisciplinary field. While integrating astrophysics research is the focus, the problem transcends astronomy alone. To this end, the report recommends a series of educational and training initiatives conceived with the astronomy component of astrobiology in mind, but that could be applied to the whole enterprise. Among these initiatives are NAI’s institutionalization of education and training, the establishment of an astrobiology graduate student fellowship program and of exchange programs for graduate students and sabbatical visitors, and sponsorship of a distinguished speaker series in astrobiology. The astrophysics component of astrobiology has a rich and vibrant future in one of the great intellectual enterprises of humankind, understanding the origin and evolution of life. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The following is a summary of the committee’s detailed findings and recommendations. NASA Efforts in Astrophysics for Astrobiology Funding for astrobiology is limited, and the boundaries of the field are unclear; there is a risk that some funds might go to research topics that cannot be justifiably classified as “astrobiology.” The committee recommends that in funding decisions, NASA and other funding agencies should regard astronomical research as astrobiology if it is life-focused in plausible ways. Review of current astronomically oriented research shows that it is concentrated in relatively few areas, especially in the Exobiology program. The committee recommends that NASA continue to ensure that an appropriate diversity of topics is included within the astrophysics component of astrobiology and that its support be coordinated with funding through other relevant programs. NASA also should develop metrics to evaluate the degree to which truly interdisciplinary work involving astronomy and astrophysics is being done in the current NAI nodes.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 Areas That Could Benefit from Augmentation and Integration Some broad areas are relatively understudied and would be especially amenable to focused effort in the near future: the galactic environment, the radiation/particle environment, bolide bombardment, interstellar molecules and their role in prebiotic chemistry, photochemistry and its relation to photosynthesis, and molecular evolution in an astronomical context. Specific areas needing attention by the research community and by funding agencies include the following: Galactic habitability, including correlating stellar heavy-element abundance with the existence of planets; characterizing the interaction among stellar winds, the interstellar medium ram pressure, and the resulting cosmic ray flux; and determining which regions of the Galaxy could give rise to and sustain life. Characterization of the ultraviolet (UV), ionizing radiation, and particle flux incident on evolving, potentially life-hosting planets and moons. The variability of damaging UV and ionizing radiation over the course of life on Earth and how such conditions might be manifested on other life-hosting bodies. Planetary geology models to better understand the presence and nature of volcanism and tectonics on other planets as a function of the age of formation of the planet, the initial concentration of long-lived radioactive species, the accretion history, and the mass of the planet. Geological field work and models to characterize the rates of damage and mutation due to background radioactivities on evolving Earth and other potentially life-hosting bodies and to compare them with the rates due to other endogenous and exogenous radioactivities. Searches for cosmogenic material and other live radioactive elements in ice cores and ocean sediments. Research in the chemistry of the circumstellar accretion disks that evolve from molecular clouds, considering both gas- and solid-state phases and the delivery of chemical compounds to planet surfaces for an appropriate range of planets and planetary environments. Research to complete the interstellar and circumstellar molecular inventory and to test reaction pathways. Geological and geochemical work to identify ejecta material in the rock record surrounding large impact basins—in particular, to study existing evidence and search for additional signs of impact at the Permian/Triassic boundary and to document various anomalies in noble gas isotopic signatures and rare earth and other metal abundances that can be clearly linked to extraterrestrial impactors. Return to the Moon to acquire more lunar samples to help determine when the “impact frustration” of life’s origin ended by sampling more sites—particularly sites that are older than the six sites sampled by the Apollo astronauts and the three sites sampled by the Russian robotic sample-return missions and, especially, the oldest and largest impact basin on the Moon, the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Research on how carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur cycles might work on a prebiotic planet with an ocean and an incident flux of photons and particles, and how these cycles might couple with primitive life forms to provide feedstocks for their formation and energy for their metabolism. Coordinated theoretical, laboratory, and observational studies of interstellar chemistry, accretion, condensation, and transport processes to determine the inventory of compounds that was delivered to a young planet, when they were available, where they were available, and in what quantities. Studies of abiotic photochemistry in concert with astronomical sources of trace elements and energy to determine whether trace elements play a role in photochemical sources of organic compounds and/or high-energy activated compounds. Studies of the extent to which the astrophysical environment could have fostered symmetry breaking in prebiotic organic pools. Studies to understand the evolution of earthlike organisms and organisms with other coding mechanisms that are subjected to the fluctuating thermal and radiation environments expected for planetary systems with various impact histories and planets orbiting stars of various masses and ages in different parts of the Galaxy. In vitro and in silico studies to learn how the stochastic variability of the environment, including the mutational environment, affects the evolution of life, especially by promoting complexity and the evolution of evolvability.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 Integrating Astronomy with the Other Disciplines of Astrobiology The committee identified three factors that currently limit the integration of astronomy and astrophysics with astrobiology and, indeed, limit robust interdisciplinary research of any kind: (1) a lack of common goals and interests, (2) lack of a common language, and (3) insufficient background in allied fields to allow experts to do useful interdisciplinary work. The committee recommends to NASA, other funding agencies, and the research community the following approaches to overcoming communication barriers: Continue and expand cross-disciplinary discussions on the origin and evolution of life on Earth and elsewhere, as are already being promoted by the NAI. Continue intellectual exchange through interdisciplinary meetings, focus groups, a speaker program, and workshops, all targeted at augmenting and integrating astronomy and astrophysics with other astrobiology subdisciplines. Promote a professional society (and cross-disciplinary branches within existing societies) that will cover the full range of disciplines that make up astrobiology, from astronomy to geosciences to biology. The International Society for the Study of the Origins of Life, which holds triennial meetings, may provide an appropriate basis for this. The BioAstronomy conferences sponsored by the International Astronomical Union,2 the astrobiology conferences held at NASA Ames Research Center, and the Gordon Research Conferences on the Origin of Life are useful but do not fulfill the needed roles of a professional society. Undertake missions to asteroids, comets, moons such as Titan, and, possibly, Saturn’s rings to sample and analyze the surface organic chemistry. Broaden the definition of outreach activities within the NAI beyond general public awareness and K-12 education to achieve the greater degree of cross-fertilization that is needed among NAI senior researchers, postdoctoral fellows, and students. Reach out to university faculty in general, not just to NAI members and affiliates. This is essential for astrobiology to be embraced as a discipline and for extending and perpetuating support beyond NAI/NASA, which is otherwise unlikely to happen. Education at all levels is a central issue. The committee recommends multiple approaches that invest both in training the next generation and in giving the larger scientific community opportunities for interdisciplinary training and collaboration. NASA should encourage NAI teams to institutionalize education in astrobiology. In particular, the committee recommends that the next competition for NAI centers encourage the creation of academic programs for interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate training in astrobiology. In order to provide opportunities for graduate training within and outside the NAI nodes, NASA should establish an astrobiology graduate student fellowship program similar to existing programs in space and Earth science. These fellowships should be open to students enrolled in any accredited graduate program within the United States. NASA should encourage the NAI to foster cross- and interdisciplinary training opportunities for graduate students and faculty, as already exist for postdoctoral fellows. In particular, the committee recommends that exchange programs be created to allow students to matriculate in programs outside their home field and that resources be made available for a sabbatical program for the interdisciplinary training of established scientists. NASA should encourage the NAI nodes and NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) nodes to engage in a self-study as part of their reporting processes to assess the progress of graduate and postdoctoral programs in training truly interdisciplinary scientists who actively engage in interdisciplinary research. The NAI should sponsor a distinguished speaker series in astrobiology. It would identify accomplished speakers and provide travel support for them to present their interdisciplinary research at universities and colleges. Speakers should be selected on the basis of both disciplinary and demographic diversity. The institutions hosting the speakers would be required to involve multiple academic departments or programs. 2 See <http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/~meech/iau/>.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4.2 The Atacama Large Millimeter Array: Implications of a Potential Descope A Report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Review the Science Requirements for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array Summary The Committee to Review the Science Requirements for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array conducted a study to evaluate the consequences of a descope of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), which is intended to be the major, ground-based observational facility for millimeter and submillimeter astronomy for the next three decades. The committee was asked to consider the scientific consequences of reducing the number of active antennas from 601 to either 50 or 40 antennas. The committee concluded that: A 60-element array would be greatly superior to any current or planned comparable instrument for several decades and would revolutionize millimeter and submillimeter astronomy. Two of the three level-1 requirements, involving sensitivity and high-contrast imaging of protostellar disks, will not be met with either a 40- or a 50-antenna array. It is not clear if the third requirement, on dynamic range, can be met with a 40-antenna array even if extremely long integrations are allowed for. Speed, image fidelity, mosaicing ability,2 and point-source sensitivity will all be affected if the ALMA array is descoped. The severest degradation is in image fidelity, which will be reduced by factors of 2 and 3 with descopes to 50 and 40 antennas, respectively. Despite not achieving the level-1 requirements, a descoped array with 50 or 40 antennas would still be capable of producing transformational results, particularly in advancing understanding of the youngest galaxies in the universe, how the majority of galaxies evolved, and the structure of protoplanetary disks, and would warrant continued support by the United States. Furthermore, it is the committee’s appraisal that a 40-antenna array would retain ALMA’s strong support within the general astronomical community. However, the rapid decline in imaging capability that would result with a further reduction below 40 antennas would erode this support. NOTE: “Summary” reprinted from The Atacama Large Millimeter Array: Implications of a Potential Descope, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 1-2. 1 Although the plan is to construct 64 antennas, only 60 will be operational at any one time. Likewise the committee assumes that 50- and 40-antenna arrays will require the construction of 54 and 44 antennas, respectively. 2 Mosaicing refers to the mapping of areas larger than the field of view of a single antenna, by using multiple pointings, up to a thousand in extreme cases.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4.3 Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation A Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Community Assessment and Strategy for the Future Summary Understanding the complex, changing planet on which we live, how it supports life, and how human activities affect its ability to do so in the future is one of the greatest intellectual challenges facing humanity. It is also one of the most important for society as it seeks to achieve prosperity and sustainability. The decades of the 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of a new paradigm for understanding our planet—observing and studying Earth as a system of interconnected parts including the land, oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and solid Earth. At the same time, satellite observing systems came of age and produced new and exciting perspectives on Earth and how it is changing. By integrating data from these new observation systems with in situ observations, scientists were able to make steady progress in the understanding of and ability to predict a variety of natural phenomena, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and volcanic eruptions, and thus help mitigate their consequences. Decades of investments in research and the present Earth observing system have also improved health, enhanced national security, and spurred economic growth by supplying the business community with critical environmental information. Yet even this progress has been outpaced by society’s ongoing need to apply new knowledge to expand its economy, protect itself from natural disasters, and manage the food and water resources on which its citizens depend. The aggressive pursuit of understanding Earth as a system—and the effective application of that knowledge for society’s benefit—will increasingly distinguish those nations that achieve and sustain prosperity and security from those that do not. In this regard, recent changes in federal support for Earth observation programs are alarming. At NASA, the vitality of Earth science and application programs has been placed at substantial risk by a rapidly shrinking budget that no longer supports already-approved missions and programs of high scientific and societal relevance. 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. In addition, transitioning of many of the scientific successes at NASA into operational capabilities at NOAA and other agencies has failed to materialize, years after the potential and societal needs were demonstrated, even as the United States has announced that it will take a leadership role in international efforts to develop integrated, global observing systems. The Committee on Earth Science and Applications from Space affirms the imperative of a robust Earth observation and research program to address such profound issues as the sustainability of human life on Earth and to provide specific benefits to society. Achieving these benefits further requires that the observation and science program be closely linked to decision support structures that translate knowledge into practical information matched to and cognizant of society’s needs. The tragic aftermath of the 2004 Asian tsunami, which was detected by in situ and space-based sensors that were not coupled to an appropriate warning system in the affected areas of the Indian Ocean, illustrates the consequences of a break in the chain from observations to the practical application of knowledge. The committee’s vision for the future is clear: The nation needs to rise to the grand challenge of effectively enhancing and applying scientific knowledge of the Earth system both to increase fundamental understanding of our home planet and how it sustains life and to meet increasing societal needs. This vision reflects and supports established national and international objectives, built around the presidential directives that guide the U.S. climate and Earth observing system initiatives. Realizing the vision requires a strong, intellectually driven Earth sciences program and an integrated in situ and space-based observing system—the foundation essential to developing NOTE: “Summary” reprinted from Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 1-8.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 knowledge of Earth, predictions, and warnings—as well as better decision-support tools to transform new knowledge into societal benefits and more effectively link science to applications. The payoff for our nation and for the world is enormous. EARTH OBSERVATION TODAY The current U.S. civilian Earth observing system centers on the environmental satellites operated by NOAA; 1 the atmosphere-, biospheres-, ocean-, ice-, and land-observation satellites of NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS);2 and the Landsat satellites, which are currently managed under a cooperative arrangement involving NASA, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Today, this system of environmental satellites is at risk of collapse. Although NOAA has plans to modernize and refresh its weather satellites, NASA has no plan to replace its EOS platforms after their nominal 6-year lifetimes end (beginning with the Terra satellite in 2005), and it has canceled, descoped, or delayed at least six planned missions, including the Landsat Data Continuity “bridge” mission.3 These decisions appear to be driven by a major shift in priorities at a time when NASA is moving to implement a new vision for space exploration. This change in priorities jeopardizes NASA’s ability to fulfill its obligations in other important presidential initiatives, such as the Climate Change Research Initiative and the subsequent Climate Change Science Program. It also calls into question future U.S. leadership in the Global Earth Observing System of Systems, an international effort initiated by the current Administration. The nation’s ability to pursue a visionary space exploration agenda depends critically on its success in applying knowledge of Earth to maintain economic growth and security at home. Moreover, a substantial reduction in Earth observation programs today will result in a loss of U.S. scientific and technical capacity, which will decrease the competitiveness of the United States internationally for years to come. U.S. leadership in science, technology development, and societal applications depends on sustaining competence across a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines that include the Earth sciences. As a result of the recent mission cancellations, budget-induced delays, and mission descopes, the committee finds the existing Earth observing program to be severely deficient. The near-term recommendations presented below describe the minimum set of actions needed to maintain the health of the NASA scientific and technical programs until more comprehensive community recommendations are made in the final report of the survey. They address deficiencies in the current program at NASA and some of the emerging needs of NOAA and the USGS. The committee’s recommendations address issues in six interrelated areas: Canceled, descoped, or delayed Earth observation missions; Prospects for the transfer of capabilities from some canceled or descoped NASA missions to NPOESS; The adequacy of the technological base for future missions; The status and future prospects of NASA Earth science Explorer-class missions; The adequacy of research and analysis programs to support future programs; and Development of baseline climate observations and data records. 1 See discussion at the NOAA Web site at <http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/satellites.html>. 2 EOS is composed of a series of satellites, a science component, and a data system supporting a coordinated series of polar-orbiting and low-inclination satellites for long-term global observations of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. See “The Earth Observing System,” at <http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/>. 3 In accordance with congressional guidance and the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 (PL 102-555), the Commercial Space Act of 1998 (PL 105-303), and the U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing Policy (April 25, 2003), NASA and the Department of the Interior/USGS initially planned to continue the Landsat-7 data series by implementing a Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) that would procure data from a privately owned and commercially operated remote sensing system. Following an evaluation of proposals, NASA declined to accept any offers and canceled this plan in September 2003. Per guidance from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA then agreed to transition Landsat measurements to an operational environment through the incorporation of Landsat-type sensors on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) platform. NASA also agreed to further assess options to mitigate the risks to data continuity prior to the first NPOESS-Landsat mission, including a “bridge” mission. Unless otherwise specified, the committee’s reference to cancellation of the LDCM is to this bridge or “gap filler” option, which have launched a free-flying instrument to avoid a gap in data continuity between the already-degraded Landsat-7 and the launch of the first NPOESS-Landsat satellite in late 2009/early 2010.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 ACTIONS TO MEET CURRENT CRITICAL NEEDS Proceed with GPM and GIFTS Recently, six NASA missions with clear societal benefits and the established support of the Earth science and applications community have been delayed, descoped, or canceled. Two of these missions should proceed immediately: Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM). The Global Precipitation Measurement mission is an international effort to improve climate, weather, and hydrological predictions through more accurate and more frequent precipitation measurements. GPM science will be conducted through an international partnership led by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Water cycling and the availability of fresh water resources, including their predicted states, are of critical concern to all nations, and precipitation is the fundamental driver of virtually all water issues, including those concerned with national security. GPM is the follow-on to the highly successful Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission, which is nearing the end of operations.4 It is an approved mission that has been delayed several times by NASA. The committee recommends that the Global Precipitation Measurement mission be launched without further delays. Atmospheric Soundings from Geostationary Orbit (GIFTS). The Geostationary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer (GIFTS) will provide high-temporal-resolution measurements of atmospheric temperature and water vapor, which will greatly facilitate the detection of rapid atmospheric changes associated with destructive weather events, including tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flash floods, and hurricanes. The GIFTS instrument has been built at a cost of approximately $100 million, but the mission has been canceled for a variety of reasons. However, there exists an international opportunity to launch and test GIFTS. The committee recommends that NASA and NOAA complete the fabrication, testing, and space qualification of the GIFTS instrument and that they support the international effort to launch GIFTS by 2008. Three other missions—Ocean Vector Winds, Landsat Data Continuity, and Glory—as well as development of enabling technology such as the now-canceled wide-swath ocean altimeter, should be urgently reconsidered, as described below. Evaluate Plans for Transferring Needed Capabilities to NPOESS Instruments on the following three canceled missions may be either reinstated as independent NASA missions as originally planned or replaced with appropriate instruments for flight on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). This latter approach has both advantages (e.g., transfer of research capabilities to operational use) and disadvantages (e.g., decrease in instrument capability, gaps in data continuity). Ocean Vector Winds. Global ocean surface vector wind observations have enhanced the accuracy of severe storm warnings, including hurricane forecasts, and have improved crop planning as a result of better El Niño predictions. Such observations are achievable from proven space-borne scatterometer systems. However, NASA has canceled the Ocean Vector Winds mission, a previously planned follow-on to the active scatterometer currently operating on the QuikSCAT mission, which has already exceeded its design life. NOAA is currently planning to use a passive microwave sounder, CMIS (Conical Scanning Microwave Imager/Sounder), which will be launched on NPOESS, to recover ocean wind measurements. Tests of the feasibility of this technique are underway based on use of a similar instrument on the Navy’s Windsat satellite. Landsat Data Continuity. For more than 30 years, Landsat satellites have collected data on Earth’s continental surfaces to support Earth science research and state and local government efforts to assess the quality of terrestrial habitats, their resources, and their changes due to human activity. These data constitute the longest 4 National Research Council, Assessment of the Benefits of Extending the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission: A Perspective from the Research and Operations Communities, Interim Report, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, in press.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 continuous record of Earth’s surface as seen from space. The Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992 directs NASA and the USGS to assess various system development and management options for a satellite system to succeed Landsat 7. The president’s budget for NASA for FY 2006 discontinues plans for launch of this satellite system and instead directs NASA to assume responsibility for providing two Operational Land Imager (OLI) instruments for delivery to NPOESS (the second OLI is to be delivered 2 years after the first). Glory. Glory carries two instruments—the Advanced Polarimetric Sensor (APS) and the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM). Part of the framework of the president’s Climate Change Research Initiative, Glory was developed to measure aerosol properties (via the APS) with sufficient accuracy and coverage to quantify the effect of aerosols on climate. Aerosol forcing is one of the most important sources of uncertainty in climate prediction. Glory would also monitor the total solar irradiance. Measurements of total solar irradiance are needed to understand how the Sun’s energy output varies and how these variations affect Earth’s climate. TIM would ensure continuity of this important time-series should the irradiance monitor on the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite fail prior to the launch of NPOESS. The committee recommends that NASA, NOAA, and the USGS commission three independent reviews, to be completed by October 2005, regarding the Ocean Vector Winds, Landsat Data Continuity, and Glory missions.5 These reviews should evaluate: The suitability, capability, and timeliness of the OLI and CMIS instruments to meet the research and operational needs of users, particularly those that have relied on data from Landsat and QuikSCAT; The suitability, capability, and timeliness of the APS and TIM instruments for meeting the needs of the scientific and operational communities; The costs and benefits of launching the Landsat Data Continuity and Glory missions prior to or independently of the launch of the first NPOESS platform; and The costs and benefits of launching the Ocean Vector Winds mission prior to or independently of the launch of CMIS on NPOESS. If the benefits of an independent NASA mission(s) cannot be achieved within reasonable costs and risks, the committee recommends that NASA build the OLI (two copies, one for flight on the first NPOESS platform6), APS, and TIM instruments and contribute to the costs of integrating them into NPOESS. APS, TIM, and the first copy of OLI should be integrated onto the first NPOESS platform to minimize data gaps and achieve maximum utility. The reviews could be conducted under the auspices of NASA and NOAA and USGS external advisory committees or other independent advisory groups and should be carried out by representative scientific and operational users of the data, along with NOAA and NASA technical experts. Develop a Technology Base for Future Earth Observation Much of the recent progress in understanding Earth as an integrated system has come from NASA’s EOS, which is composed of three multi-instrumented platforms (Terra, Aqua, and Aura) and associated smaller missions.7 Initial plans, made in the 1980s, called for three series of each of the platforms to ensure a 15-year record of continuous measurements of the land surface, biosphere, solid Earth, atmosphere, and oceans. However, by the late 1990s, budget constraints and other factors led NASA to abandon plans for follow-ons to the first series of EOS satellites. Knowledge anticipated from analysis of EOS long-term data records depends now on a precarious plan to 5 Note added in proof: Wording corrected to include the USGS, which was inadvertently omitted in the prepublication copy of this report. 6 The Landsat Data Continuity mission called for the procurement of two instruments, each with a mission lifetime of 5 years, to provide continuity to the Landsat 7 data set. 7 NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) began as an attempt to monitor the entire Earth and continuously evaluate global change trends. In effect, MTPE was a program to evaluate the sustainability of human life on Earth via a study of the interrelated and complex processes involving Earth’s geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. The space-based component of MTPE, the Earth Observing System (EOS), was the centerpiece of MTPE; it began formally in the early 1990s.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 The panel agrees with the breakdown of goals listed in the roadmap and notes that they are consistent with, and support, the goals outlined in the NRC solar system decadal survey. However, the roadmap uses the concept of planetary habitability as its basic premise for scientific exploration, but it does not clearly articulate how the planned investigations will address planetary habitability and how each proposed mission will build on previous mission results. The panel recommends that a proper science approach be developed and that clearer relationships between the concept of habitability and missions proposed to demonstrate habitability be articulated and maintained in any future NASA solar system exploration program. Universe Exploration and the Search for Earth-like Planets The two roadmaps Universe Exploration and The Search for Earth-like Planets10,11 make a strong case for exploring the fundamental physics associated with the beginning of the universe and the nature of space-time and for searching for Earth-like planets. They do not, however, present the most robust case possible for the suite of missions that address the important broad range of astrophysical questions at the forefront of astrophysical research. Not all of these missions fall conveniently in the scope of the Beyond Einstein and the Search for Earth-like Planets programs. The division of topics between these two roadmaps also tends to deemphasize the capability of some of the proposed missions, which are critical to the search for Earth-like planets, to do broader astrophysical research. Finally, the partitioning into two roadmaps has deemphasized the value of shared technology, facilities, and infrastructure. A significant issue conspicuously absent in the Universe Exploration roadmap is the future of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). In a 2004 report the NRC laid out a continuing science role for HST in astronomy and astrophysics.12 The fate of HST is intimately connected to the development of other NASA missions in the roadmap. Much of NASA’s former Structure and Evolution of the Universe and Origins programs has been redefined as the Pathways to Life theme, which appears to be an overly narrow interpretation of the vision for space exploration. However, a broader interpretation of NASA’s science mission in the exploration vision was described by the president’s commission’s report A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover13 and also expressed in the NRC report Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.14 Those reports stated that astronomy can and should be more than the search for life. The Search for Earth-like Planets roadmap outlines an ambitious plan of large, expensive, and technologically challenging missions; however, the roadmap contains very little discussion of mission costs and technological challenges and milestones that must be met for each mission to be successful. The realism of the proposed mission timeline and the ability of the proposed missions to fit into the budget line are serious concerns. The panel recommends that broad-based community input be sought to guide decisions about priorities and scientific directions if any significant revision to the Search for Earth-like Planets strategic roadmap mission sequence becomes necessary. Earth Science and Applications from Space Unlike the other roadmaps, Exploring Our Planet for the Benefit of Society, the strategic roadmap for Earth science and applications from space,15 had no NRC decadal survey to guide it. Past NRC studies have articulated the importance of broad community discussion and input as an essential part of NASA’s long-term strategic planning—input that will be available after completion of the NRC decadal survey on Earth science and applications that is now in progress. The panel recommends that the forthcoming NRC Earth science and applications decadal survey be used as a starting point for mid- to long-term planning (i.e., for beyond 2010). Before the completion of the decadal survey, NASA planning and advanced technology programs should remain flexible to avoid commitments to missions that might not receive broad community support. In the near term NASA should focus foremost on the specific recommendations made in the NRC decadal survey interim report.16 In particular, attention should be given to the near-term gaps in the current program of long-term observations.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 Interagency cooperation is critical for ensuring long-term operational measurements, and ongoing mission planning will be needed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which plays a strong role in atmospheric and oceanic observations. International cooperation also will be important in implementing and enhancing the NASA program. Recognizing the strong message from the NRC Earth sciences decadal survey interim report that “NASA must retain Earth science as a central priority, to support critical improvements in understanding the planet and developing useful applications,”17 the panel recommends that NASA strongly support the Earth science program independent of its involvement in the vision for space exploration. Sun-Solar System Connection The Sun-Solar System Connection roadmap18 is a well thought out document that succeeds in placing many science objectives into the context of the vision for space exploration. The roadmap correctly notes that the science program has reached a level of maturity that allows it to focus on “systems science” that addresses the strong interactions between all of the different components of the Sun-solar system environments, even while essential work continues on the individual constituents. Adjustments have been made to accommodate resources and to support the vision for the space exploration schedule; however, the resulting overall priorities are roughly consistent with the relevant NRC decadal survey19 and its recent follow-on NRC study.20 The latter study reexamined the NRC decadal survey recommendations in the context of the objectives of the vision for space exploration. At the highest level the panel generally supports the science and implementation program developed in the roadmap. However, the rationale undervalues the role of fundamental discovery science, instead focusing too single-mindedly on how scientific findings will flow down to other applications and operations interests. This may result in a program that is too narrow to match the broad scientific exploration goals of the vision for space exploration. PRINCIPLES FOR INTEGRATING SCIENCE STRATEGY ROADMAPS The panel, in addition to reviewing each of the six 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 the NRC report Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.21 Advancing Intellectual Understanding A guiding principle should be scientific merit, as measured by the advancing intellectual understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. The goals and objectives set in relevant NRC decadal surveys and similar reports should be the primary criteria for setting priorities and program content. 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 scientific community and are recognized for their credibility and stability. This process has been one of the foundations that has enabled NASA to develop an outstanding scientific program with a long and successful record to its credit. 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. Program Span, Diversity, Stability, and Flexibility The integrated science program constructed by NASA based on these roadmaps 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. The program should be discovery driven and not rigid, allowing exciting new discoveries to be rapidly accommodated in a program plan, and should include the broad scientific community’s involvement in the decision process. 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.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 Creating Opportunities for the Future A robust, sustainable aerospace community is required. Investment in the nation’s intellectual and physical infrastructure that provides the basis for the capability for space exploration—and stewardship of that infrastructure—are daunting but essential tasks if we are to continue to be a space-faring nation. Explicit strategies should be defined for developing the next generation of space scientists and space engineers, and the generation after that. These strategies, which include public outreach and education, need to have a scope commensurate with the scope of the vision for space exploration. Research and analysis programs, theory programs, and rocket- and balloon-based research programs provide the training and experience base at our universities and research institutes. These programs should be evaluated, judged, and prioritized using the same high standard the panel recommends as applicable to initiatives described in NRC decadal surveys. 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 technologies that are applicable to several branches of the space sciences, for example, those spanning several of the scientific disciplines addressed by the roadmaps, should receive special consideration. Capabilities to handle the communications and data transmission, storage, and archive needs of the space exploration initiative require assessment and appropriate investment for timely implementation. The NASA roadmap integration and strategic planning process should consider these needs as a vital part of developing the space exploration initiative infrastructure. Amplifying the Span, Reach, Impact, and Strength of the NASA Exploration Program The panel’s review of NASA strategic roadmaps suggests that NASA research can have societal benefits in addition to increasing fundamental knowledge in science. There is much to be gained by enhancing the connections with other agencies of the executive branch that have responsibilities for or interests in space research and space technology. These agencies include NOAA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. The impact of space research now transcends the space science community and in many cases involves nonscientists, affecting diverse areas such as agriculture, fisheries, and a host of other enterprises and activities at the commercial, industrial, and state level. An important goal is reinvigorating the transition from space research to operations—typically from NASA to NOAA—and enhancing the ultimate use of the data by a host of enterprises. International Cooperation and Coordination NASA has had a decades-long history of international cooperation in human and robotic space activities. Cooperative missions with other nations have provided direct scientific benefits to both the United States and the other cooperating nations. Although the panel recognizes that international cooperation can have its negative aspects as well, the subject should receive serious explicit attention. The extraordinary scope of the exploration vision and the multigenerational span of this effort provide an opportunity to seek out partners from other nations to join us in this grand adventure. The panel recognizes that current implementation of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) continues to be a serious impediment to international cooperation; however, the overwhelming imperative of the exploration vision should provide the basis for a renewed effort to ameliorate the effects of ITAR so that ITAR goals can be obtained without unduly affecting NASA’s international cooperation efforts with foreign partners. CROSSCUTTING OPPORTUNITIES AND ISSUES The panel was struck by the relative paucity of crosscutting opportunities identified in the six individual roadmaps. To be sure, some opportunities were noted, but it is the judgment of the panel that the scope and span of the opportunities noted in the roadmaps do not do justice to the scope and span of the vision for space exploration.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 The panel notes two additional crosscutting issues. Although it did not review a lunar roadmap, the panel was concerned about the interrelation between lunar and martian exploration and scientific goals. Although it recognizes that human lunar exploration goals should be secondary to human Mars exploration goals, the panel emphasizes that lunar science is of great intrinsic scientific interest and should not be neglected under the lunar exploration program. The panel also notes that several similar or related missions appear in separate roadmaps. The panel warns that in such cases, desirable but not required missions can seem more important because of multiple appearances in roadmaps. As noted in the prioritization criteria above, the panel reiterates that every proposed mission should be evaluated on the basis of its scientific merit and ability to meet the goals of the NRC decadal survey in its particular discipline. REFERENCES 1. National Research Council (NRC). 2003. New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 2. NRC. 2005. The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 3. NRC. 2001. Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 4. NRC. 2005. Earth Science and Applications from Space: Urgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation [interim report]. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 5. President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. 2004. A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover. Available at <govinfo.library.unt.edu/moontomars/>. 6. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 7. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. Robotic and Human Exploration of Mars. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/mars/mars_roadmap.pdf>. 8. NRC. 2003. New Frontiers in the Solar System. 9. NASA, Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. SRM 3—The Solar System Exploration Strategic Roadmap. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/solar/solar_roadmap.pdf>. 10. NASA, Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. Universe Exploration: From the Big Bang to Life. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/universe/universe_roadmap.pdf>. 11. NASA, Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. The Search for Earth-like Planets. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/earthlike/earthlike_roadmap.pdf>. 12. NRC. 2005. Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 13. President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. 2004. A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover. 14. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. 15. NASA, Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. Exploring Our Planet for the Benefit of Society: NASA Earth Science and Applications from Space Strategic Roadmap. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/earth/earth_roadmap.pdf>. 16. NRC. 2005. Earth Science and Applications from Space [interim report]. 17. NRC. 2005. Earth Science and Applications from Space [interim report], p. 14. 18. NASA, Advanced Planning and Integration Office. 2005. Sun-Solar System Connection. NASA, Washington, D.C. Available at <www.hq.nasa.gov/office/apio/pdf/sun/sun_roadmap.pdf>. 19. NRC. 2002. The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics. 20. NRC. 2004. Solar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 21. NRC. 2005. Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4.9 Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station A Report of the Review of NASA Strategic Roadmaps: Space Station Panel Executive Summary This report of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Space Station Panel reviews NASA plans for the completion of the International Space Station (ISS) and its utilization in support of the human exploration of the solar system. At the time this report was written, no single integrated plan for the ISS was available for the panel’s review. Instead, from the information made available to it from several recent NASA planning activities relevant to ISS utilization for the new exploration missions, the panel developed broad advice on programmatic issues that NASA is likely to face as it attempts to develop an updated utilization plan for the ISS. The panel also discussed some potentially important research and testbed activities to support exploration objectives that may have to be carried out on the ISS to be successful. CURRENT STATUS OF ISS PLANS According to the information presented to the panel, the ISS today is approximately 50 percent completed. NASA plans 18 or 19 more flights to finish construction of the ISS but hopes to reduce that number. The shuttle, currently the only transportation system capable of deploying the large ISS structural components and research modules, is planned to be decommissioned at the end of 2010. The panel’s understanding is that NASA still plans to deploy all previously planned rack-level research facilities except for those associated with the centrifuge accommodation module (i.e., the life sciences glove box and animal holding racks). However, it appears that much of the racks’ supporting equipment has been eliminated in concert with the NASA research programs that would have utilized the racks. The ISS currently carries a reduced crew of two, and NASA is considering scenarios for increasing it to six in 2009 or 2015, with 2008 being the earliest date that the ISS might be capable of sustaining a crew of six. NASA currently defines the mission objectives for the ISS in support of extended crewed exploration of space as follows: Develop and test technologies for exploration spacecraft systems, Develop techniques to maintain crew health and performance on missions beyond low Earth orbit, and Gain operational experience that can be applied to exploration missions. The panel agrees that these are appropriate and necessary roles for the ISS. However, the panel noted with concern that these objectives no longer include the fundamental biological and physical research that had been a major focus of ISS planning since its inception. In addition to increasing fundamental scientific understanding, much of that research was intended to have eventual terrestrial applications in medicine and industry. Previous reports1-3 also emphasized the importance of fundamental biological and microgravity research for the development of new technologies and the mitigation of space-induced risks to human health and performance both during and after long-term spaceflight. The loss of these programs is likely to limit or impede the development of such technologies and of physiological and psychological countermeasures, and the panel notes that once lost, neither the necessary research infrastructure nor the necessary communities of scientific investigators can survive or be easily replaced. BIOMEDICAL AND TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH Although it seems unlikely that the ISS will have to play a critical research role in support of lunar sorties (because of their short duration and capability for rapid return), the panel concluded that the ISS provides an NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006, pp. 1-5.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 essential platform for research and technology testing in support of long-term human exploration, including lunar outpost missions and, most especially, the human exploration of Mars. Indeed, it is uncertain whether the risks involved in sending humans on long-term exploration missions can be mitigated to acceptable levels without precursor experimentation and testing aboard the ISS. Understanding cumulative biological and psychological effects in long-term space environments and the impact of microgravity on the physical phenomena on which spacecraft systems depend, as well as long-term verification of hardware and biological countermeasures and lifecycle testing, will all require the ISS as the only capability available to allow tended experiments in a free-fall environment for periods of time that approximate the duration of a Mars outpost mission. Given the lack of a single defined research plan for the ISS, the panel could not verify that specific areas it had identified as critical to exploration were in fact gaps in NASA’s current planning. A number of broad areas of research important to exploration have been identified in past studies, and this report discusses several of these as examples of research and testing that may prove critical to fulfilling NASA exploration goals. As described in the report, these priority areas of research on the ISS include: Effects of radiation on biological systems, Loss of bone and muscle mass during spaceflight, Psychosocial and behavioral risks of long-term space missions, Individual variability in mitigating a medical/biological risk, Fire safety aboard spacecraft, and Multiphase flow and heat transfer issues in space technology operations. This list is by no means comprehensive and includes at least some areas that have been considered, if not necessarily implemented, in one more of the NASA ISS planning studies reviewed by the panel. PROGRAMMATIC ISSUES Incomplete Information in Decision Support Tools The panel noted that risk-based criteriaa are conspicuously missing from the decision support tools presented to the panel. This weakness is particularly troubling in light of the need to prioritize what work can and must be done with respect to time limitations and other resource limitations such as cost, crew time, and so forth. Recommendation: As has been discussed elsewhere,4 the characterization of risk should be clearly communicated, along with concrete go/no-go criteria for missions, so as to achieve a rational and supportable allocation of ISS resources. Using the ISS to Support Exploration Missions The panel saw no evidence of an integrated resource utilization plan for use of the ISS in support of the exploration missions. Presentations that covered some elements of criteria and processes for determining priorities for utilization of the ISS for different exploration missions demonstrated poor definition of those criteria and processes. In particular, the materials presented to the panel did not seem to take into account the effects that assigning high priority to one mission would have on factors such as the ability to complete another, perhaps later mission, because of depletion of necessary resources or limitations imposed by necessary lead times. Recommendation: NASA should develop an agency-wide, integrated utilization plan for all ISS activities as soon as possible. Such a planning effort should explicitly encompass the full development of the Exploration Systems Architecture Study technology requirements, migration of current ISS payloads to meet those requirements, identification of remaining gaps unfilled by current ISS payloads, and the R&D and technology or operations payloads needed to fill those gaps. An iterative process that includes Exploration Systems 4 See the 2006 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council report A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space: A Review of NASA’s Bioastronautics Roadmap for a clear assessment of how risks should be analyzed and how R&D should be utilized to reduce risks.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 Mission Directorate stakeholders and the external scientific and technical community should be employed to ensure that the as-flown experiments closely match the integrated ISS utilization plan. Recommendation: Scheduled periodic reviews of the ISS utilization plan with the participation of a broad group of stakeholders (internal and external, scientific and operations) are needed to ensure that the plan remains appropriate and that it continues to promote an integrated approach to attaining the ultimate program goals. Including Research and Development as an Objective for ISS Utilization The ISS represents a unique platform for conducting enabling R&D for exploration missions, particularly a Mars mission. Enabling research was not noted as an objective of ISS support for exploration missions. The panel noted with concern this apparent gap in understanding the value of the ISS for exploration missions. Even in an era of extremely limited resources, the ISS may well represent the only timely opportunity to conduct the R&D that is necessary to solve exploration problems and reduce crew and mission risks prior to a Mars mission. Recommendation: NASA should state that the objective for ISS utilization in support of exploration missions is to conduct enabling research for (1) technologies for exploration, (2) ways to maintain crew health and performance for missions beyond low Earth orbit, and (3) development of an operational capability for long-distance flights beyond low Earth orbit. Recommendation: Based on the involvement of a broad base of experts and a rigorous and transparent prioritization process, NASA should develop and maintain a set of research experiments to be conducted aboard the ISS that would enable the full suite of exploration missions. These experiments should be fully integrated into the ISS utilization process. Planning ISS Utilization to Support the Demonstration of Operations for Exploration The ISS represents a unique platform with which to conduct operations demonstrations in microgravity. For a Mars mission, where significant periods of the mission will occur in microgravity because of the long travel times en route to and returning from Mars, the ISS may prove the only facility with which to conduct critical operations demonstrations needed to reduce risks and certify advanced systems. The panel is concerned that no evidence of definition of operations demonstrations requirements for exploration missions was shown, and such requirements do not appear to be a part of the plans for utilization of the ISS for exploration missions. Recommendation: Using a rigorous process based on formal prioritization and involvement of the operations community, NASA should develop and maintain a set of operations demonstrations that need to be conducted on the ISS to validate operational protocols and procedures for long-duration and long-distance missions such as the ones to Mars. These demonstrations should be integrated into utilization of the ISS to support exploration. Crew Size As discussed in previous NRC and IOM reports,5-9 no three-person crew (let alone the current two-person crew) will have time to do the necessary research and testing, nor will they be able to serve for human experimentation. Six astronauts will be needed to devote adequate time and effort to the research and testing essential for human missions to Mars and beyond. Recommendation: NASA should give top priority to restoring the crew size of the ISS to at least six members at the earliest possible time, preferably by 2008. Completion and Support of ISS Research Capability Given that shuttle flights are being delayed and that no future shuttle flight schedule is certain, it is possible that the planned ISS configuration will not have been completed by 2010, putting the ISS contribution to exploration

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 research at risk. It appears that there are no plans to provide a backup alternative for delivering ISS structural components and research modules if the shuttle does not complete this process by 2010. Recommendation: NASA should plan options and decision points for obtaining a post-shuttle logistics capability for maintaining the ISS facility, for supporting the flight crew and research, and for demonstrating the technology and operations that will enable exploration missions. NASA should establish priorities and develop back-up plans to enable the post-2010 deployment of large ISS structural components and the research facilities required to accomplish exploration mission objectives. REFERENCES 1. Institute of Medicine (IOM). 2001. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 2. National Research Council (NRC). 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 3. NRC. 2003. Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 4. IOM and NRC. 2006. A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space: A Review of NASA’s Bioastronautics Roadmap. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 5. NRC. 2003. Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences. The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. 6. NRC. 1998. A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century. 7. NRC. 2000. Review of NASA’s Biomedical Research Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. 8. IOM. 2001. Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions. 9. IOM and NRC. 2006. A Risk Reduction Strategy for Human Exploration of Space.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 4.10 Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration A Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Scientific Context for Space Exploration Summary We live in an extraordinary period of exploration. Over the last few decades, humanity has used space as a vantage point from which to dramatically advance the exploration of our planet, the solar system, and the universe. In this transformative era, our understanding of every aspect of the cosmos has been reshaped as a result of a process driven by science—the desire to gain a fundamental and systematic understanding of the universe around us. Many aspects of exploration share this characteristic and constitute a form of science as well. This synergism establishes an overarching perspective from which to view science as an integral part of NASA’s vision for space exploration. On January 14, 2004, NASA received specific instructions from President George W. Bush to undertake a space exploration program with a clear set of goals, including implementation of “a sustained and affordable human and robotic program to explore the solar system and beyond.”1 We have an opportunity, then, to pursue critical scientific questions that remain just beyond our grasp and to extend the human presence across the solar system and thus become a true space-faring civilization. The opportunities for future discovery are vast, encompassing our home planet Earth, the Moon and Mars and other places in the solar system where humans may be able to visit, the broader solar system including the Sun, and the vast universe beyond. Indeed, there is an extraordinary richness to the opportunities, but of course also a sobering reality, given the need to consider the limitations of available resources. The issue thus is not what to pursue ultimately, but rather what to pursue first. Accordingly, the Committee on the Scientific Context for Space Exploration recommends the following guiding principles:2 Exploration is a key step in the search for fundamental and systematic understanding of the universe around us. Exploration done properly is a form of science. Both robotic3 spacecraft and human spaceflight should be used to fulfill scientific roles in NASA’s mission to explore. When, where, and how they are used should depend on what best serves to advance intellectual understanding of the cosmos and our place in it and to lay the technical and cultural foundations for a space-faring civilization. Robotic exploration of space has produced and will continue to provide paradigm-altering discoveries; human spaceflight now presents a clear opportunity to change our sense of our place in the universe. The 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. 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 is our ultimate destiny. Preparation for long-duration human exploration missions should include research to resolve fundamental engineering and science challenges. More than simply development problems, those challenges are multifaceted and will require fundamental discoveries enabled by crosscutting research that spans traditional discipline boundaries. The appropriate science in a vibrant space program is, therefore, nothing less than that science that will transform our understanding of the universe around us, and will in time transform us into a space-faring civilization that extends the human presence across the solar system. NASA has embarked on a strategic planning activity that is built around 13 top-level agency objectives (see Chapter 2). The committee has reviewed the objectives, particularly those relating to science, and finds them to be comprehensive and appropriate. They have the potential to encompass all of the scientific topics that should be NOTE: “Summary” reprinted from Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, pp. 1-3. 1 A Renewed Spirit of Discovery, the President’s Vision for U.S. Space Exploration, The White House, January 2004. 2 These principles share much in common with those recommended in the National Research Council report Science Management in the Human Exploration of Space (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1997). 3 In this report the term “robotic” broadly encompasses all uncrewed space missions, observatories, probes, landers, and the like.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 pursued under NASA’s broad mission statement, which in turn is supported by the recent policy directives governing NASA. However, to be thorough and effective, strategic planning will require much forethought and the involvement of a diverse scientific community, because many of the scientific and technological challenges cut across several of the agency’s objectives. The breadth of NASA’s top-level strategic objectives is an important strength. The topics do not distinguish between science and human exploration but rather reflect the recognition that each objective offers the opportunity both to advance and to benefit from understanding of the universe in which we live, and each is a worthy endeavor in a robust space exploration program. The committee believes that exploration, in the broad sense defined in this report, is the proper goal for NASA. The committee recommends that, as planning roadmaps are developed to pursue NASA’s objectives and as priorities are set among them, decisions be based on the potential for making the greatest impact and that the strategic roadmaps do the following: Emphasize the critical scientific or technical breakthroughs that are possible, and in some cases necessary, and Highlight how a vibrant space program can be achieved by selecting from an array of approaches to realizing potential breakthroughs across the full spectrum of goals embodied in NASA’s mission statement. For many years priorities for space science research have been developed and recommended through decadal surveys conducted under the auspices of the National Research Council (NRC). These studies use a consensus process to identify the most important, potentially revolutionary science that should be undertaken within the span of a decade, and numerous mission and program concepts that do not meet this standard are not pursued. In that sense NASA’s science program currently is and always has been planned with the intent to generate the paradigm-altering science that NASA should undertake. The committee considered how NRC science strategies and other reports can contribute to NASA’s strategic planning process, and it makes the following recommendations: The most recent NRC decadal surveys for the fields of astronomy and astrophysics, solar system exploration, solar and space physics, and the interface between fundamental physics and cosmology do provide appropriate guidance regarding the science that is critical for the next decade of space exploration. The committee recommends that these reports—Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (2000), New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2002), The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2002), and Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century (2003)—be used as the primary scientific starting points to guide the development of NASA’s strategic roadmaps that include these areas. Other highly relevant, discipline-specific NRC studies provide guidance for prioritizing critically important biomedical and microgravity research that must be conducted to enable human space exploration. The committee recommends that these reports—A Strategy for Research in Space Biology and Medicine in the New Century (1998), Safe Passage: Astronaut Care for Exploration Missions (2001), Factors Affecting the Utilization of the International Space Station for Research in the Biological and Physical Sciences (2002), Microgravity Research in Support of Technologies for the Human Exploration and Development of Space and Planetary Bodies (2000), and Assessment of Directions in Microgravity and Physical Sciences Research at NASA (2003)—be used as a starting point for setting priorities for research conducted on the International Space Station so that it directly supports future human exploration missions. Science for enabling long-duration human spaceflight is inherently crosscutting, spans many of the agency’s 13 new top-level objectives, and requires input from many fields of science and technology. Thus, no single decadal survey or combination of surveys necessarily can provide the totality of advice needed for the new programs that are anticipated under NASA’s vision for exploration. Also, no single scientific or engineering discipline can provide the expertise and knowledge required for optimal solutions to the problems that will be encountered in human space exploration. Therefore, simply redoing the decadal surveys would not provide ideal guidance for defining the science that will enable human space exploration. Instead, the necessarily crosscutting advice should come from interdisciplinary groups of experts rather than from traditional committees that have a single scientific focus. Therefore the committee recommends that NASA identify scientific and technical areas critical to enabling

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005 the human exploration program and that it move quickly to give those areas careful attention in a process that emphasizes crosscutting reviews to reflect their interdisciplinary scope, generates rigorous priority setting like that achieved in the decadal science surveys, and utilizes input from a broad range of expertise in the scientific and technical community. NASA’s robotic science program has enjoyed remarkable success, and it provides lessons that are worth applying to the human spaceflight program. The committee recommends that successful aspects of the robotic science program—especially its emphasis on having a clear strategic plan that is executed so as to build on incremental successes to sustain momentum, use resources efficiently, enforce priorities, and enable future breakthroughs—should be applied in the human spaceflight program. New opportunities for research will arise as a result of human space exploration, and other research efforts will facilitate its success, but these two categories of science need to be treated differently. Science that is enabled by human exploration is properly competed directly with “decadal-survey” science4 and then ranked and prioritized according to the same rigorous criteria. For science to enable human exploration, competitive choices will depend on the criticality of the problem the science addresses and the likelihood that it will resolve the problem. For the former kind of science, understanding is an end in itself. For the latter, understanding is a means to the goal of resolving an identified problem, and the degree of understanding needed depends on the problem at hand. The presidential policy directive on exploration also provides the context for deciding on the future of the space shuttle and the mission of the International Space Station. NASA is directed to retire the shuttle as soon as the assembly of the ISS is complete, which is assumed to be by 2010, and to focus the use of the ISS on supporting the goals of long-duration, human space exploration. Doing this in the most cost-effective way possible is essential for achieving NASA’s goals for robotic and human exploration. 4 Decadal-survey science is the set of endeavors identified by the science community, via an NRC-organized process described in Chapter 3, as potentially yielding the most important, even revolutionary, science and thus recommended to NASA for emphasis over the coming decade.