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Assessment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute
developing the field of astrobiology, both from the perspective of NAI members and that of the larger community of NASA-supported scientists—both within the NASA Astrobiology Program and outside of it. It is hoped that the results of this review can help guide NASA in assessing and shaping the future of the NAI, particularly in its preparation of a solicitation that would be issued to help select future teams to can lead the NAI into a second decade.
This review should evaluate the success of the NAI in achieving its stated goals of:
Conducting, supporting, and catalyzing collaborative interdisciplinary research;
Training the next generation of astrobiology researchers;
Providing scientific and technical leadership on astrobiology investigations for current and future space missions;
Exploring new approaches, using modem information technology, to conduct interdisciplinary and collaborative research amongst widely-distributed investigators; and
Supporting outreach by providing scientific content for K-12 education programs, teaching undergraduate classes, and communicating directly with the public.
In evaluating the NAl’s success, the SSB should address the following broad questions:
Has the NAI developed, as envisioned, as an evolving experiment in cutting-edge, distributed, collaborative science and education in astrobiology?
Does the NAI provide a unique and useful complement to other Astrobiology Program support mechanisms (e.g., individual grants to principal investigators), and if improvements need to be made in this area, what are they?
Are the research, training, and public educational activities of the NAI appropriately balanced in terms of investments and outcomes, services to NAI members and external partners, and activities that engage and support the wider astrobiology community and the needs of young professionals?
What other activities/roles not currently undertaken by the NAI might be appropriate in future?
I would like to request that the National Research Council submit a proposal for the execution of the proposed review. In order for the conclusions of the review to be available in sufficient time to be incorporated into the next-scheduled solicitation for NAI member-institutions, the final report of this review committee should be available no later than October 1, 2007. The technical point of contact for this activity will be Dr. John D. Rummel, who can be reached at 202-358-0702.
Mary L. Cleave
Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate