A PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT OF NASA’S ASTROPHYSICS PROGRAM

NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee

Space Studies Board

Board on Physics and Astronomy

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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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program A PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT OF NASA’S ASTROPHYSICS PROGRAM NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee Space Studies Board Board on Physics and Astronomy 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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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program 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 was supported by Grant No. 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 authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10490-6 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10490-4 Cover—Top image: Remnants of a supernova (SN 1604, also known as Kepler’s Supernova) discovered by Johannes Kepler in 1604. The image is a composite of data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (color-coded red in the image), the Hubble Space Telescope (yellow), and the Chandra X-ray Telescope (blue and green). SOURCE: NASA. Bottom, left: Artist’s rendition of the Chandra X-ray Telescope. SOURCE: CXC/TRW. Bottom, center: Artist’s rendition of the Spitzer Space Telescope. SOURCE: NASA. Bottom, right: The Hubble Space Telescope. SOURCE: NASA. 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 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program 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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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program Other Reports of the Space Studies Board Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007) Exploring Organic Environments in the Solar System (SSB with the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, 2007) An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs (2006) Assessment of NASA’s Mars Architecture 2007-2016 (2006) Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions: Letter Report (2006) Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop (2006) Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce (SSB with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2006) Review of NASA’s 2006 Draft Science Plan: Letter Report (2006) The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon—Interim Report (2006) Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space Exploration (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) 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) 334-3477/ssb@nas.edu 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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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program NASA ASTROPHYSICS PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE KENNETH H. KELLER, University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, Chair MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University, Vice Chair STEVEN J. BATTEL, Battel Engineering CHARLES L. BENNETT, Johns Hopkins University CATHERINE CESARSKY, European Southern Observatory MEGAN DONAHUE, Michigan State University ROLF-PETER KUDRITZKI, University of Hawaii at Manoa STEPHEN S. MURRAY, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics ROBERT PALMER, Independent Consultant JOSEPH H. TAYLOR, JR., Princeton University MICHAEL S. TURNER, University of Chicago RAINER WEISS, Massachusetts Institute of Technology CHARLES E. WOODWARD, University of Minnesota at Minneapolis Staff BRIAN D. DEWHURST, Study Director DAVID B. LANG, Research Associate BRENDAN McFARLAND, Research Assistant EMILY McNEIL, Research Assistant CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Senior Program Assistant CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program SPACE STUDIES BOARD LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired), Vice Chair SPIRO K. ANTIOCHOS, Naval Research Laboratory DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado STEVEN J. BATTEL, Battel Engineering CHARLES L. BENNETT, Johns Hopkins University JUDITH A. CURRY, Georgia Institute of Technology JACK D. FARMER, Arizona State University JACK D. FELLOWS, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research JACQUELINE N. HEWITT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory KLAUS KEIL, University of Hawaii BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire KENNETH H. NEALSON, University of Southern California NORMAN P. NEUREITER, American Association for the Advancement of Science SUZANNE OPARIL, University of Alabama JAMES PAWELCZYK, Pennsylvania State University RONALD PROBSTEIN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (emeritus) HARVEY D. TANANBAUM, Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory RICHARD H. TRULY, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (retired) JOSEPH F. VEVERKA, Cornell University WARREN M. WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research GARY P. ZANK, University of California at Riverside MARCIA S. SMITH, Director

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program BOARD ON PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY ANNEILA L. SARGENT, California Institute of Technology, Chair MARC A. KASTNER, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Vice Chair JOANNA AIZENBERG, Lucent Technologies JONATHAN BAGGER, Johns Hopkins University JAMES E. BRAU, University of Oregon RONALD C. DAVIDSON, Princeton University RAYMOND J. FONCK, University of Wisconsin at Madison ANDREA M. GHEZ, University of California at Los Angeles PETER F. GREEN, University of Michigan WICK HAXTON, University of Washington FRANCES HELLMAN, University of California at Berkeley JOSEPH HEZIR, EOP Group ERICH P. IPPEN, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ALLAN H. MACDONALD, University of Texas CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE, University of California at Berkeley HOMER A. NEAL, University of Michigan JOSE N. ONUCHIC, University of California at San Diego WILLIAM PHILLIPS, National Institute of Standards and Technology THOMAS M. THEIS, IBM T.J. Watson Research Center C. MEGAN URRY, Yale University DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program Preface The past 20 years have been a time of remarkable discovery in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. In conjunction with advances in other fields such as elementary particle physics, understanding of the physical laws governing the universe has grown and changed in substantial ways. These developments would not have happened without the missions and programs supported by NASA, and opportunities for future breakthroughs will require NASA’s continuing leadership in the scientific exploration of the 21st century. The scientific community recognizes these facts, as does the American public. Scientific discovery has been central to NASA’s ability to capture the imagination of the public and to inspire new generations of scientists and engineers. In Section 301(a) of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the Congress directed NASA to have “[t]he performance of each division in the Science directorate … reviewed and assessed by the National Academy of Sciences at 5-year intervals.” In early 2006 NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct such an assessment for the agency’s Astrophysics Division. The committee’s statement of task was to study the alignment of NASA’s Astronomy and Physics Division (the Division) with previous NRC adviceprimarily from the reports Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (NRC, 2001) and Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos (NRC, 2003). More specifically, the committee will address the following: How well NASA’s current program addresses the strategies, goals, and priorities outlined in Academy reports;

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program Progress toward realizing these strategies, goals and priorities; and Any actions that could be taken to optimize the scientific value of the program in the context of current and forecasted resources available to it. The study will not revisit or alter the scientific priorities or mission recommendations provided in the cited reports, but may provide guidance about implementing the recommended mission portfolio leading toward the next decadal survey. The NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee met three times in the course of its deliberations. In its first meeting on June 19-21, 2006, at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., the committee focused on understanding the programmatic status of the Astrophysics program at NASA and the context in which this report was requested. The committee’s second meeting was held August 14-16, 2006, at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. Representatives of each of the projects recommended in the two NRC reports Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium (2001) and Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos (2003) were invited to discuss the progress made thus far. After the second meeting, subsets of the committee met with Mary Cleave, NASA associate administrator for science, Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Edward Weiler, director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. The committee’s final meeting on October 20-22, 2006, at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, D.C., was devoted to work on the committee’s report. The committee thanks those who made formal presentations at its meetings and expresses its deep appreciation to the hosts and facilitators of its site visits; the hospitality was impeccable and the conversations candid, enlightening, and invaluable. Two other recent NRC reports have addressed related subject matter concerning NASA’s entire science program: An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs, which was released on May 4, 2006, and “Review of NASA’s 2006 Draft Science Plan,” a letter report sent on September 15, 2006, to Mary Cleave, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. Although the reviews and deliberations leading to the present report were conducted independently of those two studies and dealt with questions pertaining only to astrophysics, the findings and recommendations presented here are consistent with and complement those provided in the two 2006 reports. Kenneth H. Keller, Chair Martha P. Haynes, Vice Chair NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee

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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program 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: Jonathan Bagger, Johns Hopkins University, Roger Blandford, Stanford University, Neal J. Evans II, University of Texas at Austin, Richard McCray, University of Colorado, Christopher F. McKee, University of California at Berkeley, George A. Paulikas, Aerospace Corporation (retired), and Anneila L. Sargent, California Institute of Technology. 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 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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A Performance Assessment of Nasa’s Astrophysics Program Contents     SUMMARY   1 1   INTRODUCTION   4 2   SUMMARY OF AANM SURVEY AND Q2C REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS   7 3   ASTROPHYSICS PROGRAM PLANS AND PROGRESS   12      Recent Astrophysics Achievements,   12      Plans and Progress Toward Recommended Goals,   20 4   SLOWDOWN OF PROGRESS—ANALYSIS AND APPRAISAL   28      Internal and External Pressure on the Astrophysics Budget,   29      Mission Cost Escalation,   31      Science Opportunities Lost,   33      Impact of Persistent Imbalance in the Program,   34      Organizational Instability,   36      Community Input and Advice,   37 5   FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   39     APPENDIX: Acronyms   45

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