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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science 2 Space Science and the Integrated Technology Plan BACKGROUND INFORMATION The NASA space science and applications program is described in Table 1, an encompassing statement of its scientific objectives. OSSA's focus is on research objectives, rather than the technology that may be required to meet the objectives. The six program objectives correspond loosely to the principal goals of the science divisions that are part of the Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA): Astrophysics, Solar System Exploration, Space Physics, Earth Sciences and Applications, Life Sciences, and Microgravity Sciences and Applications. The Life Sciences Division contributes to both of the final two objectives. REPORT MENU NOTICE MEMBERSHIP PREFACE Table 1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY CHAPTER 1 OSSA'S STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVES CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 4 Observe the universe with high sensitivity and resolution across the q ACRONYMS entire electromagnetic spectrum by completing the Great BIOGRAPHIES Observatories Program and conducting selected complementary BIBLIOGRAPHY measurements. APPENDIX A Complete the detailed scientific characterization of virtually all of the q APPENDIX B solar system, including the terrestrial planets, typical primitive bodies APPENDIX C (asteroids and comets), and the solar system. Develop the scientific APPENDIX D foundation to support the planning of human exploration beyond APPENDIX E Earth by determining the nature of the environment and surfaces of the Moon and Mars. Search for planetary systems around other stars. Quantitatively describe the physical behavior of the Sun, the origins of q solar variability, the geospace environment, and the effects of solar processes on the Earth, and extend these descriptions to Sun/planet file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (1 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) interactions, to the edge of the heliosphere, and into the interstellar medium and galaxy beyond. Establish a set of Earth-orbiting satellites and complementary q instruments to study the Earth system on a global scale, examine the planet for evidence of global change, and eventually develop the capability to model the Earth system to predict changes that will occur, either naturally or as a result of human activity. OSSA's efforts constitute a major contribution to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Conduct and coordinate all aerospace medicine, medical support, q and life support activities within NASA. Determine human health, well- being, and performance needs, and conduct research, both on Earth and in space, to establish medical and life-support technology requirements for those needs for human flight missions. Study the nature of physical, chemical, and biological processes in a q low-gravity environment, and apply these studies to advance science and applications in such fields as fluid physics, materials science, combustion science, gravitational biology, medicine, and biotechnology by exploiting the unique capabilities provided by the Space Shuttle, Space Station Freedom, and other space-based facilities. OSSA has applied the set of principles that are given in Table 2 to its pursuit of the above scientific objectives. Table 2 OSSA'S STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES Constant emphasis on excellence as a measure of scientific q leadership Basic scientific goals and strategies defined by the scientific q community Use of scientific peer review in all aspects of the program Balance among the various scientific disciplines Close q communication with external scientific and applications communities, particularly through the advisory process Strong support for universities to provide essential long-term research q talents Effective use of the NASA centers in formulating and implementing q the OSSA program Choice of an appropriate mission approach determined by scientific q and applications requirements Attention to nurturing and enhancing educational opportunities, at all q file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (2 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) levels, to serve national needs consistent with OSSA's overall goals and missions. Of particular importance is OSSA's declaration that it will use "scientific peer review it all aspects of the program." In a recent Office of Technology Assessment report1 peer review was defined as follows: "Peer review" describes a family of methods used to make funding decisions about research projects. It usually comprises a multistaged process, where reviews of the proposal are solicited from experts in the scientific subdiscipline of the proposal. Reviewers are most often asked about the technical excellence of the proposal, the competence of the researchers, and the potential impact of the proposed project results on a scientific discipline or interdisciplinary research area. Peers may also be asked about the project's relevance to the objectives of the funding program. The proposals and reviews may then be considered by a panel of experts, and competing proposals compared. The panel eventually ranks the proposals in the order in which they think the proposed projects should be funded. Peer review is not unique to the funding of research at academic institutions. The same principles of external, peer scrutiny can be applied to the selection of tasks to be carried out in a federal laboratory or industrial firm. OSSA has a clear intent to employ peer review to guide its programs. In OSSA, the external community helps choose programs and experiments and contributes to their execution. Advisory panels help OSSA rank missions and sharpen its decision processes. The extent to which peer review is incorporated into the processes by which OSSA identifies technology needs and develops technology is. less clear. Rigorous peer reviews are employed to select scientific experimenters and instruments, and strong pressure is placed on the publication of results in peer-reviewed journals. The quality of the scientific results profoundly affects whether a mission is perceived as a success. OSSA's strategy is based on the principles in Table 2 and developed through the five actions shown in Table 3. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (3 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Table 3 OSSA'S STRATEGIC ACTIONS 1. Establish a set of structural elements. 2. Establish a set of decision rules. 3. Establish a set of priorities for missions and programs within each structural element. 4. Demonstrate that the strategy can yield a viable program. 5. Check the strategy for technology readiness and for consistency with resource constraints, such as budget, manpower, facilities, and launch vehicle availability. The last of these actions, checking the strategy for technology readiness and consistency with resource constraints, raises the issue of whether or not technology is available to perform the missions linked to OSSA's strategy. The decision rules that OSSA applies to its program are listed in Table 4. The theme of technology readiness is reinforced in the last of these decision rules, which calls for an investment to develop needed technologies. Table 4 OSSA DECISION RULES 1. Complete the ongoing program. 2. Provide frequent access to space for each discipline through new and expanded programs of small innovative missions. 3. Initiate a mix of intermediate/moderate profile missions to ensure a continuous and balanced stream of scientific results. 4. Initiate flagship missions that provide scientific leadership and have broad public appeal. 5. Invest in the future by increasing the research base to improve program vitality and by developing needed future technologies. Through the above processes, OSSA develops its desired strategy, makes initial plans for programs and, in principle, derives a point of departure from which its divisions determine their sets of required technologies. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (4 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) OSSA Criteria for the Evaluation of Technology Needs Technology development projects at OSSA are individually selected and undertaken by its divisions; there is no overarching OSSA technology development program. Estimates by the divisions of their FY 1992 expenditures in support of technology development are provided later in this chapter and compiled in Appendix C. In responding to OAST's request for information about OSSA technology needs as part of the ITP preparation process, OSSA consolidated the technology needs of its six science divisions into a single set. In doing so, OSSA reviewed the inputs from each division, combined similar inputs from different divisions into single need categories, and ranked these technology needs in three categories ("highest," "second highest," and "third highest") within three time frames ("near- term," "mid-term," and "far-term"). The resulting matrices are presented in Appendix E. The criteria used during the OSSA consolidation and prioritization process were as follows: "Mission Urgency" (how necessary is the technology for an existing mission); "Commonality of Technology Requirements" (the prevalence of the need among divisions); "Balance Across Disciplines and Subdisciplines" (fairness in distribution of requests for technology initiatives); and "Relevance to Strategic Plan" (the Strategic Plan is OSSA's planning document). The technology needs criteria to be used by each division in the preparation of their input to OSSA were as follows: "Commitment to Ongoing Program" (can existing programs benefit from this technology development); "Urgency of Mission/Experiment" (how necessary is the technology for a specific mission); "Understanding of Requirement" (is the need sufficiently defined to file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (5 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) permit a sound development project); "Technology Maturity" (is technology sufficiently mature for adoption with reasonable risk); "Projected Cost Reduction;" "Commonality Across Division Instruments, Systems, Subsystems" (how widespread is the need in the division). These criteria are, in some cases, different from those in the processes described by the science divisions in the next section of this chapter. OSSA Divisions and Technology Development The Committee found no evidence of the existence of an OSSA-wide advanced technology strategy or plan prior to the activities leading to the ITP. Ad hoc processes appear to be followed. The procedures employed by the science divisions to choose technological development targets lack uniformity and, in some cases, rigor. The ITP required an OSSA-level ranking of technology needs. This activity was performed for OAST, rather than for OSSA internal planning. Information on OSSA's FY 1992 budget is provided in Table 5. The combined technology development expenditures of OSSA's divisions are small (estimated by OSSA at about $48.8 million for FY 1992) in comparison to OSSA's overall budget ($2.728 billion for FY 1992), and equal to about 40 percent of OAST's estimate of its expenditure relevant to OSSA's technology needs. NASA estimates the total OSSA technology budget and the portion of the OAST's budget relevant to space science to be as much as $177 million (see Appendix C). Whether NASA's current expenditure is adequate to reduce the development risk of the OSSA missions is an open question that is addressed in the last chapter of this report. The following four sections—covering Astrophysics and Space Physics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Life Sciences, and Microgravity Science and Applications—are based on the work of the Committee's four subcommittees. They provide background information on each of OSSA's science divisions, discuss the processes by which technology needs were determined by each division, and present relevant findings and recommendations. Table 5 FY 1992 Budgets of the OSSA Science Divisions, their Research and Analysis Budget and Estimated Technology Development Expenditures file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (6 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Technology Research and Development Division Budget Analysis Budget Expenditure OSSA Division ($ million) ($ million) ($ million) Astrophysics 683.7 35.5 11.3 Earth Science and 747.5 175.1 10 Applications Life Sciences 148.9 50.7 5 Microgravity Science and 120.8 16.6 ~8 Applications Solar System Exploration 534.5 90.7 5.5 Space Physics 275.6 35.0 3.5 Source: NASA THE ASTROPHYSICS AND SPACE PHYSICS DIVISIONS There is a strong interdependence between science and technology. Scientific advances frequently enable new technologies while new technology is often the basis for scientific discoveries. Over the past three decades initial exploratory missions have been followed by more sophisticated investigations and have yielded a new view of a dynamic Sun, giant planetary magnetospheres, and an extended heliosphere, all driven by complex plasma processes. Observations in the electromagnetic spectrum from low-frequency radio to high- energy gamma rays led to the awareness of a universe far more dynamic than previously thought. Background radiation from the beginning of the universe has challenged pre-existing theories. Understanding newly discovered processes and phenomena, within our solar system and on a galactic scale, will require classes of observation beyond our present capabilities. The dependence of astrophysics and space physics on new technologies is likely to grow. Background: Astrophysics Division The Astrophysics Division has the goal to "conduct a comprehensive exploration of the universe." The themes of its research in astronomy—"What is the nature of planets,. stars and galaxies?"; cosmology-"What is the origin and fate of the Universe?"; and physics—"What are the laws of physics in the extreme conditions of astrophysical objects?", encompass profound questions that have been of interest to human beings for millennia. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (7 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Research sponsored by the division is performed through the use of a variety of robotic or automated spacecraft in Earth orbit above the filtering and scattering effects of the atmosphere. Recently, its emphasis has been on the "Great Observatories," four Earth-orbiting satellites. The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (GRO), the Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), and the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF) are designed to study astronomical objects by gathering data throughout a wide portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Astrophysics Division has identified technology needs in five major areas: sensors, optics, interferometers, observatory systems, and information systems. The Astrophysics Division has an Advanced Programs Branch containing an Advanced Technology Program, and estimates its FY 1992 expenditures in support of technology development at $11.3 million. Technology Needs Compilation and Evaluation The process by which the Astrophysics Division determines its technology needs is highly developed, institutionalized, and intimately tied to its Astrotech 21 Program. The Astrotech 21 Program, initiated by the Astrophysics Division in 1989 and managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), is a major effort involving hundreds of active scientists and engineers from all constituent groups of the astrophysics community. It is aimed at identifying the technology needs of future astrophysics missions. The results of the Astrotech 21 Program have been reviewed by the scientific discipline advisory groups and science working groups. More specifically, the Astrotech 21 Program has conducted a series of workshops to: Define science goals and objectives. Develop "point design" mission concepts. Identify technology development needs. Develop technology development plans to meet those needs. Develop technology development priorities. Develop technology development plans for each future mission and for each subdiscipline. Priorities for technology development within the Astrophysics Division are based on the following criteria, in order of importance: file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (8 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Urgency—When is the technology needed? Criticality—Is the technology enabling or enhancing the mission? Difficulty—How much effort is required compared to the state of the art? Background: Space Physics Division Space Physics encompasses the study of the Sun, interplanetary space, the magnetospheres and upper atmospheres of planets, and interstellar space. The goals of the Space Physics Division are to pursue the study of the heliosphere as one system, and achieve an understanding of the physics of: The Sun and the solar wind, and their interactions with the upper atmospheres, ionospheres, and magnetospheres of the planets and comets; energetic particles; and the interstellar medium. The effects of energetic particles and solar variability upon the Earth's environment, and human operations in space. Space Physics missions use orbiting spacecraft and spacecraft on interplanetary missions to gather data from different regions within the solar system (heliosphere). The Space Physics Division has an Advanced Programs Branch and estimates its FY 1992 expenditures in support of technology development at $3.5 million. These funds are primarily spent at or through NASA field centers to advance approved space physics missions. Technology Needs Compilation and Evaluation In 1991 the Space Physics Division conducted a workshop to identify its technology needs. This workshop was attended primarily by NASA field center and aerospace industry representatives. Its results, published in July 1991, defined the division's technology needs. Some modifications have since been made, but without broad community concurrence or a rigorous review such as the Astrophysics Division's Astrotech 21 Program. The division's decision rules to develop its technology needs are: "Urgency—Does project provide essential or significant benefits to a core science mission or experiment?" "Commonality—Is it applicable to multiple missions, instruments, and systems?" file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (9 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) "Cost—Will it result in significant project cost reduction?" "Timing—Can it be planned and implemented in an acceptable time frame?" FINDINGS While there does appear to be a strong ongoing program in the development of infrared and submillimeter detectors, there are critical gaps in the OSSA technology needs plan and matrix for astrophysics and space physics which are, to some extent, generic. These gaps are: 1) the need for technology development to design, build, launch, and operate spacecraft for astrophysics and space physics research in a faster and less costly manner; 2) the need to develop a large range of radiation-hardened electronic components and subsystems; and 3) the need to support a broad spectrum of smaller innovative technology developments in photon and non-photon sensors as well as other subsystems. The Committee could find few instances of transferring technology from other NASA developers or from the OAST Base Program to astrophysics or space physics programs. One of OAST's critical functions is to develop non- mission-specific advanced space technology in its Base Program. The base technology program is managed and its objectives set as an internal NASA program. Opportunities for introducing important novel initiatives from outside NASA are limited, even though the funding itself may go to outside communities. Although OAST has estimated that it spends 12 percent of its space technology budget at universities, only about $15 million (five percent) is specifically targeted to bring external academic expertise into OAST through its "University Space Engineering Research Centers" and "University Research Programs." The vast technical resources of the nation's universities and other research organizations could make a greater contribution to NASA's technical capabilities, including those related to astrophysics and space physics, if they were supported to a greater extent by OAST's space technology program. RECOMMENDATIONS NASA should continue to work to improve cooperation between OSSA and OAST in technology for astrophysics and space physics. This might take the form of a formal partnership to identify goals, objectives, and a clear path to transfer technology from the OAST base and focused programs to OSSA. OSSA should continue to use its resources on near-term programs, and OAST should continue to concentrate on long-range technology needs. However, both parties file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (10 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) should specifically agree on the points at which technology development projects will be transferred from OAST to OSSA. The OAST R&T base program and its individual projects in support of space science should be subjected to more visible external review on a regular basis. OSSA representatives should be included in the review team. This could contribute to a sense of "ownership" of the OAST base technology program in those it aims to serve and facilitate the ultimate transfer of new technology to users. The technology gaps addressed above should be added to the OSSA technology needs matrix. The Committee also recommends technology development projects to foster a broad range of innovative capabilities for smaller missions. THE EARTH SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS AND SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION DIVISIONS Background: Earth Science and Applications Division The place of the Earth Science and Applications Division in OSSA is unique. Its goal, "to establish the scientific basis for national and international policymaking relating to natural and human-induced changes in the global Earth system," is of a different nature than any of the other divisions. It does not by definition specify research inherently related to space or space flight. However, its objectives are analogous to the goals of the other divisions. Its objectives are to: 1. Establish an integrated, comprehensive, and sustained program to document the Earth system on a global scale; 2. Conduct a program of focused and exploratory studies to improve understanding of the physical, chemical, biological, and social processes that influence Earth system changes and trends on global and regional scales; and 3. Develop integrated, conceptual, and predictive Earth system models on global and regional scales.2 The Earth Science and Applications Division has its own mandate as part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (an integrated effort by 11 U.S. government agencies). It is also part of the international effort to study the climate and environmental conditions of the Earth by the space and other scientific agencies of more than a dozen nations. As such, its technology requirements are not derived from a small community of researchers or based on the needs of purely scientific research projects, but stem from national and international policy file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (11 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Planetary Evolution and State Obtain an in-depth understanding of the planetary bodies in our solar system and their evolution over the age of the solar system. Evidence of Life Search for evidence of life in our own and other planetary systems, and understand the origin and evolution of life on Earth and other planets. Robotic and Human Exploration Conduct scientific exploration of the Moon and Mars, and utilize the Moon as a base of scientific study in participation with NASA's Mission from Planet Earth. Solar system exploration is conducted in three distinct stages: 1. reconnaissance, involving flyby missions; 2. exploration, generally conducted with orbiting spacecraft, hard landers, and atmospheric probes; and 3. intensive study, involving soft landers, sample returns, and human exploration. The essential part of this exploration is a core science program of balanced missions and research that stresses continuity, commonality, cost-effectiveness, and the use of existing technology. Future programs envision completing the reconnaissance phase for all planets, completing the exploration phase of the inner solar system and small bodies, advancing the exploration phase of the outer planets, and conducting in- depth studies of Mars and a comet or asteroid.6 Technology Need Compilation and Evaluation The Solar System Exploration Division's technology planning strategy is as follows: Step 1: Derive a set of technology themes consistent with the division's (and OSSA's) strategic perspective. Step 2: Identify a set of decision rules and a process for eliciting technology needs and priorities. Step 3: Identify and synthesize the division's technology needs. Step 4: Establish the priorities. Step 5: Integrate needs and priorities with OAST, iterating as necessary. Step 6: Continue to evolve understanding of technology requirements and update plans to reflect advancements/setback and programmatic exigencies. Step 7: Implement and coordinate technology plans with OAST, the Solar System Exploration Division, and supporting organizations. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (13 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) According to the division's representative, the process was initially informal, and implemented primarily at the headquarters level, but the planetary community has now become aware of, and committed to, these planning principles. The Solar System Exploration Division contributed 21 technology needs to the final OSSA technology needs matrix presented to OAST. The Solar System Exploration Division has an Advanced Studies Branch and estimates its FY 1992 expenditures in support of technology development at $5.5 million. FINDINGS The technology needs submitted by the Earth Sciences and Applications Division and the Solar System Exploration Division for inclusion in the ITP do not reflect their respective communities' need for increased access to space through smaller, quicker, more flexible, and less expensive missions. For example, the Solar System Exploration Division has shifted its emphasis from a few big missions to more frequent access to space and more flexible missions. This shift was not reflected in the ITP or the OAST briefings to the Committee. Similarly, the Earth Sciences and Applications Division recently modified its EOS program and does not appear to have requested help from OAST regarding its shift in paradigm from large to smaller spacecraft. The Committee believes that an effective discussion has occurred between OAST and the Earth Science and Applications and Solar System Exploration Divisions in developing the current ITP, but it is not clear that the divisions have requested technological assistance with their most basic problems. With respect to the earth and planetary sciences, the weaknesses in the ITP lie in what is not there rather than what is. The Earth Sciences and Applications Division's submission to OAST of only nine technology needs does not correspond to its significant technology-dependent responsibilities. For example, the division has not identified technologies to support orbital debris mitigation or very high altitude observations as needs. The Solar System Exploration Division has not identified in situ resource utilization despite its potential to reduce the cost of large-scale planetary exploration. Avoidance of risk at NASA has been elevated to such a position that innovation in the development of technology for earth and planetary sciences has suffered. For the last decade or longer, programs in these areas have generally been very expensive and very large, and only initiated after years of deliberations. NASA's culture, organization, and past experiences seem to have made the establishment of new ways of doing business very difficult. Studies and program plans seem to have flourished at the expense of scientific innovation, innovative technology development, and actual projects. The preparation of the ITP appears to have started a wholesome process to correct these problems, but efforts need to continue. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (14 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) While the Committee was often reminded that OSSA and OAST managers were determined to communicate to ensure an effective development process, there was little actual evidence of science users in earth and planetary sciences and technology developers teaming to produce a tangible result. RECOMMENDATIONS NASA's Earth Sciences and Applications and Solar System Exploration Divisions should act to increase their programs' vitality through the development of less expensive platforms for Earth observation and planetary probes, e.g., micro- and mini-satellites, and remote-controlled aircraft for sustained access to very high altitudes. Long-term needs in this area should appear in both lists of technology needs. The objective of easier access to space should be explicit in OSSA's inputs to OAST, and in the formulation of technology development projects at each office. As both divisions improve their programs through the use of new or improved technologies, emphasis should be placed on technologies with the potential to reduce end-to-end mission costs, as savings in the real costs of programs can contribute to more frequent and less complicated access to space. OSSA and OAST should act to improve communication between the Earth Sciences and Applications Division, the Solar System Exploration Division, both division's scientific communities, and those able to contribute to the development of their technology needs. OSSA and QAST should emphasize a team approach to problem solving both at NASA headquarters and where the work actually takes place, including NASA centers. THE LIFE SCIENCES DIVISION The goals of the Life Sciences Division are to "ensure the health, safety, and productivity of humans in space" and to "acquire fundamental scientific knowledge concerning space biological sciences." The division aims to "expand our understanding of life in the universe; develop an understanding of the role of gravity on living systems; provide for the health and productivity of humans in space; and promote the application of life sciences research to improve the quality of life on Earth".7 The Committee considered the division's goals and programs and identified the following scientific constituencies covering the division's research areas: life support, integrative physiology, operational medicine, space biology, human/systems interaction, and exobiology. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (15 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) Since 1981, the Life Sciences Division has carried out the bulk of its space-based research on the Space Shuttle. The division's experiments are generally conducted using biomedical devices or animal, plant, or cell maintenance or growth facilities that are specially designed or specially modified for space flight and integrated into the Shuttle mid-deck or the Spacelab module. Devices used in space life sciences research require various levels of crew interaction. Some need little or no crew contact during nominal performance, while others are literally connected to the crew, monitoring and recording physiological functions. Most space life sciences hardware is used in the pressurized volume of the Shuttle and must meet stringent safety and other requirements (e.g., noise). Technologies related to exobiology, which includes the search for life or its precursors outside of Earth and the study of the effects of extraterrestrial environments on living organisms, have different standards because they can be employed on robotic spacecraft or other sites not in direct contact with crewmembers. The space life sciences research community is small in comparison to the overall biological and biomedical research communities and has depended on proven technologies to a large extent. A widespread need of this community is to be able to adapt off-the-shelf laboratory technology quickly and safely for use in space. The kinds of technology needed for biomedical experiments in space are generally readily available for similar studies on Earth. The primary difficulties of conducting research in space have been associated with the difficulty of qualifying hardware for space flight and the paucity of space flight opportunities. Operational or technology problems related to low-gravity, or other inherently space-related phenomena, have been secondary to organizational, programmatic, logistical, and other non-scientific constraints to research. These deficiencies have constrained the space life science as a discipline. The flight hardware available for space flight has driven scientific research rather than the reverse. The absence of adequate technology and flight opportunities has led to an overabundance of descriptive and anecdotal observations of astronauts' physiological responses to microgravity instead of peer-reviewed research results. Important hypotheses have not been fully tested and mechanisms partially revealed have not been explored. As a result, the biomedical community has not fully accepted the discipline. The Space Shuttle missions on which life sciences research has taken place have primarily been dedicated to other purposes although one mission wholly dedicated to life sciences, and a few having life sciences as a major emphasis, have been flown. Several wholly or partially dedicated missions are planned for the remainder of the 1990s. Space Station Freedom is considered the primary future site for life sciences research in space. The division has estimated its FY 1992 expenditure for technology development at $5 million. The Life Sciences Division does not have a dedicated advanced technology development gram. Technology Need Compilation and Evaluation file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (16 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) The processes associated with the identification and evaluation of the Life Sciences Division technology needs begin with the division requesting that its affiliated project offices at NASA field centers (Johnson Space Center, Ames Research Center, and Kennedy Space Center) and flight programs and science branches at NASA headquarters identify and forward technology need requirements and candidates.8 Cost estimates for candidate technology needs are requested. Candidate technology needs are categorized and ranked by the Life Sciences Division Technology Coordinator, who puts each technology need into one of three priority levels based on the program or mission enabled, synergy with Life Sciences Division objectives, and cost. Before they are forwarded to OSSA, the technology needs are reviewed and approved by division management, which ensures that they are aligned with Life Sciences Division objectives and its strategic plan. Once approved, technology needs are forwarded to OSSA for incorporation into its technology needs matrix. In the 1992 process, the Life Sciences Division contributed 25 technology needs to the OSSA technology needs matrix presented to OAST. FINDINGS The division has not adequately included the prospective users of new technologies in the scientific community (both internal and external) for the space life sciences into its technology need gathering and evaluation processes. The division has placed little emphasis on determining its bona fide technology needs, and there is little correlation between the division's strategic plan and the technology needs submitted to OSSA and forwarded to OAST. The current life sciences technology needs contained in the OSSA technology needs matrix are not, as a group, matched to recognized plans or clear priorities. The relevant categories in the OSSA matrix, and the inputs from the Division to the matrix, are often vague or confused to the point that some items in the matrix defy evaluation or quantitative assessment. The Committee considers it premature to diagnose the gaps between the OAST program and the OSSA inputs to OAST because the Life Sciences Division inputs to OSSA, as a group, have limited legitimacy. RECOMMENDATIONS file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (17 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) The Life Sciences Division should do the following: Create a division plan for technology that is integrated with its strategic plan, consistent with its programs, and approved by its director. Empower its scientific discipline working groups to identify technology needs and to review recommendations from other sources. The division should take special efforts to ensure that discipline working group membership includes scientists with recent experience in the development of complex flight experiments. Cooperate more closely with OAST on projects relevant to the division's mission. Revise its decision rules and criteria to permit objective and consistent evaluation of technology needs. Rank technology needs using critical path analyses, i.e., plan the development of technologies for a particular scientific area mindful of the sequence in which they are projected to be needed. Address basic questions before esoteric ones. Formalize technology planning responsibilities to identify, coordinate, and report relevant work within the division. THE MICROGRAVITY SCIENCE AND APPLICATIONS DIVISION The low-gravity environments aboard orbiting spacecraft and on some extraterrestrial bodies offer unique conditions for scientific inquiry and also present challenging problems and opportunities for the development of mission- enabling technologies. In the following circumstances, the role of gravity in physical phenomena is uniquely important: 1. As a driving force for convection in fluids; 2. As a driving force for phase separation; 3. As a force that helps to determine the free surface morphology of fluids; 4. Near a critical point; file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (18 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) 5. In the presence of very weak binding forces; 6. In the presence of very large masses or for very long times; and 7. In structural members or over very long distances. To date, most microgravity experiments have been focused on exploring the first two circumstances above. These experiments have included studies of crystal growth in fluids, fundamental phenomena in crystal growth, convection phenomena, measurement of the transport properties of fluids, combustion phenomena, fire safety aboard spacecraft, and immiscible alloys and multiphase solids.9 The goals of the Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division are to 1. Develop a comprehensive research program in biotechnology, combustion, fluid dynamics and transport phenomena, materials science, and selected investigations of other gravity-dependent phenomena; 2. Foster the growth of an interdisciplinary community to conduct the research and to disseminate the results; 3. Enable the research by the development of a suitable experiment apparatus and by choosing the carrier most appropriate for the experiment; 4. Promote U.S. commercial involvement and investment in the application of space research for the development of new, commercially viable products, services, and markets resulting from research in the space environment; 5. Foster international cooperation and coordination in conducting low- gravity research of mutual benefit, while maintaining the United States' competitive commercial position.10 The division's goals involve pure science, and the development of technology for science, but are also operations-oriented. Research into combustion and other processes occurring in microgravity are of interest for their potential effects on future spacecraft, flight hardware, and crew safety and operations, as well as for the purely scientific insights and the potential earth applications they may generate. Goals 4 and 5 are distinct due to their national policy implications. Microgravity research involves diverse disciplines and is in the process of developing a distinct scientific community. In 1991 the division, recognizing this situation, requested that the Space Studies Board's Committee on Microgravity Research perform a study to help develop its long-term research strategy. The file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (19 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) SSB recently published a report based on a review initiated in 1989 to this end. Entitled Towards a Microgravity Research Strategy, it is currently being assessed by the division. Most Microgravity Science and Applications Division space-based research is currently performed using the Space Shuttle mid-deck and Spacelab module. But unlike the Life Sciences Division, which also uses these resources, experiments in a number of scientific areas of interest to the division can be performed on orbiting unmanned spacecraft. Such spacecraft could be man- tended, i.e., occasionally visited by astronauts who would retrieve samples and initiate additional experiments. The division performs experiments requiring shorter durations in low-gravity conditions (up to a few minutes) through the use of suborbital rockets with automated, retrievable payloads. To date, one Space Shuttle mission entirely dedicated to microgravity sciences and a few with the microgravity sciences as a major emphasis have been conducted. Several wholly or partially dedicated missions are planned for the remainder of the 1990s. The Life Sciences and Microgravity Sciences and Applications Divisions are expected to be NASA's primary scientific users of Space Station Freedom's pressurized volume. The Microgravity Science and Applications Division contributed 11 technology needs to the final OSSA technology matrix presented to OAST. The division has a distinct Advanced Programs Branch and Advanced Technology Development Program and estimates its FY 1992 expenditures in support of technology development at $8.0 million. The projects funded by the Advanced Technology Development Program are limited to origination at NASA centers and annual funding of under $200,000 each; provisions exist to involve academia and industry. Projects sponsored by the program are not to be on the critical path of any flight project. In FY 1992, the program funded 11 projects at JPL, the Langley Research Center, the Lewis Research Center, and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Technology Need Compilation and Evaluation The Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division has identified a six- step technology needs compilation and evaluation process. In step one, candidate technologies are selected from prior reports and inputs are sought from a survey of division program and project scientists and engineers at NASA centers and headquarters. In step two, candidate technologies are organized into a decision matrix according to science discipline, facility or experiment, mission or carrier, and projected flight date. In step three, the candidate technology needs are scored on the Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division technology need scale, which has five levels: A - Must have to succeed; B - Important, but not critical for success; C - Would use if available (enables new experiments); D - Mildly interested in using technology; and E - No interest or not applicable. In step four, the technology needs are reviewed by division program and project scientists and engineers at NASA centers and headquarters. Reviewers file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (20 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) who fill out a decision matrix and some inputs are sought from experiment principal investigators. In step five, the technology needs evaluation scores are compiled and given a final review by division personnel. After review, a summary technology needs matrix is submitted to OSSA for integration into the OSSA Technology Needs Matrix.11 FINDINGS The ITP process has fostered communication between OAST and the OSSA Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division. Although opinions may differ on specific priorities and microgravity research technology needs identified in the OSSA technology needs matrix, the items listed are significant and merit attention. OAST does not have a history of developing technologies for the microgravity sciences, and there is no OAST constituency in microgravity. OSSA projects at the Lewis Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center seem disconnected from OAST. Microgravity research has agency-wide relevance. Many physical processes that could be affected by microgravity considerations are important in space-based technologies and relevant to activities throughout NASA. Examples are power systems, thermal management devices and systems, fire hazard management, multiphase flow, cryogenic engines, physical and chemical life support systems, and user support systems such as toilets and refrigerators.12 OAST should also consider the effects on technology exerted by forces other than gravity, perhap including forces so weak that they are generally considered insignificant. Research into a variety of micro- or nanoforces (e.g., magnetic and electrostatic) that may have significance in orbit, but are negligible in comparison to gravity on the ground, could also enrich the Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division. The Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division does not appear to be seeking help from OAST in areas of OAST expertise such as fluid mechanics, heat transfer, and computational fluid dynamics, where OAST/OSSA cooperation might contribute to NASA-wide advances. There is also no indication that OAST has sought out the Microgravity Science and Applications Division's expertise to help advance relevant technology. RECOMMENDATIONS file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (21 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) The recent improvements in the OAST/OSSA interaction in microgravity sciences at NASA headquarters should be enhanced and elevated to the highest levels. Liaison groups, including staff from NASA centers, should be encouraged to identify and focus on crucial, feasible joint projects. OAST and the Microgravity Sciences and Applications Division should establish a joint working group in microgravity (with membership drawn from NASA, universities, industry, and government laboratories) to focus on microgravity sciences and space technology. The working group should be charged to consider relevant aspects of the CAST In-Space Technology Experiment Program (INSTEP) and the possible formulation of a new applied research program for applied microgravity sciences within OAST. Microgravity effects should be carefully considered during the development of space technology for OSSA and other NASA offices. Many mission-enabling technologies involve transport phenomena which are significantly influenced by the lack of gravity. Therefore, it is essential that advancements in microgravity research be well understood by OAST and that OAST support microgravity research directly related to space technologies. NOTES 1. OTA, Federally Funded Research: Decisions for a Decade 2. Division presentation to Committee, June 22, 1992 3. Based on 1991 OSSA Strategic Plan 4. 1991 OSSA Strategic Plan 5. 1991 OSSA Strategic Plan 6. 1991 OSSA Strategic Plan 7. Division June 22, 1992 briefing to Committee 8. Division June 22, 1992 presentation to Committee 9. SSB Committee report: Toward a Microgravity Research Strategy, p 2 10. Division June 23, 1992 presentation to Committee file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (22 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]

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Improving NASA's Technology for Space Science (Chapter 2) 11. Division June 23, 1992 presentation to Committee 12. Ostrach, Simon. 1992. White Paper on NASA-Wide Microgravity Research, p 14 Last update 7/10/00 at 12:36 pm Site managed by Anne Simmons, Space Studies Board The National Academies Current Projects Publications Directories Search Site Map Feedback file:///C|/SSB_old_web/nasatechch2.htm (23 of 23) [6/18/2004 11:38:44 AM]