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Annual Report 1991: History and Charter of the Board Space Studies Board Annual Report—1991 1 History and Charter of the Board ORIGIN OF THE SPACE SCIENCE BOARD The National Academy of Sciences was chartered by the Congress, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln, to provide scientific and technical advice to the government of the United States. Over the years, the advisory program of the institution expanded, leading in time to the establishment of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine, and of the National Research Council, today's operational arm of the Academies of Sciences and Engineering. After the launch of Sputnik in 1957, the pace and scope of U.S. space activity were dramatically increased. Congress created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct the nation's ambitious space agenda, and the National Academy of Sciences created the Space Science REPORT MENU Board. The original charter of the Board was established in June 1958, three NOTICE months before final legislation creating NASA was enacted. The Space Science FROM THE CHAIR Board has provided external and independent scientific and programmatic advice CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 to NASA on a continuous basis from its inception until the present. CHAPTER 3 CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5 APPENDIX REORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD— CREATION OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD In 1988, the Space Science Board undertook a series of retreats to review its structure and charter. These retreats were motivated by the Board's desire to more closely align the structure of the Board and its activities with evolving government advisory needs and by its assumption of a major portion of the responsibilities of the disestablished Space Applications Board. As a result of these retreats, a number of new task groups and committees were formed, and several committees were disbanded and their portfolios distributed to other committees. The Committee on Data Management and Computation and its activities were terminated. The Committee on Planetary Biology and Chemical file:///C|/SSB_old_web/an91ch1.htm (1 of 6) [6/18/2004 10:26:30 AM]
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Annual Report 1991: History and Charter of the Board Evolution was also dismantled, but its responsibilities were distributed to other discipline committees and task groups. The charters of the remaining committees were revised, and an Executive Council of the Board was created to assist the chair of the Board in managing Board activities. Recognizing that civilian space research now involves federal agencies other than NASA (for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Departments of Energy and Defense, and the National Science Foundation (NSF)), it was decided to place an increased emphasis on broadening the Board's advisory outreach. In addition, the Board considered the possibility that an enhanced international program would necessitate more formal relationships with the Department of State. CHARTER OF THE BOARD The basic elements of the charter of the Board remain those defined by National Academy of Sciences President Detlev Bronk on June 26, 1958: We have talked of the main task of the Board in three parts-the immediate program, the long-range program, and the international aspects of both. In all three we shall look to the Board to be the focus of the interests and responsibilities of the Academy-Research Council in space science; to establish necessary relationships with civilian science and with governmental science activities, particularly the proposed new space agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency; to represent the Academy-Research Council complex in our international relations in this field on behalf of American science and scientists; to seek ways to stimulate needed research; to promote necessary coordination of scientific effort; and to provide such advice and recommendations to appropriate individuals and agencies with regard to space science as may in the Board's judgment be desirable. As we have already agreed, the Board is intended to be an advisory, consultative, correlating, evaluating body and not an operating agency in the field of space science. It should avoid responsibility as a Board for the conduct of any programs of space research and for the formulation of budgets relative thereto. Advice to agencies properly responsible for these matters, on the other hand, would be within its purview to provide. Thus, the Board exists to provide advice to the federal government on space research and to assist in coordination of the nation's undertakings in these areas. Since its reconstitution in 1988 and 1989, the Board has also assumed similar responsibilities with respect to space applications. More recently, the Board has begun to address scientific aspects of a program of human exploration of the Moon and Mars. In general, the Board develops and documents its views by means of file:///C|/SSB_old_web/an91ch1.htm (2 of 6) [6/18/2004 10:26:30 AM]
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Annual Report 1991: History and Charter of the Board appointed discipline committees or interdisciplinary task groups that conduct studies and submit their findings for Board and National Research Council approval and dissemination. On occasion, however, the Board itself considers major issues in its own plenary sessions and prepares and releases its own statements. These various advisory products may be prepared and released either in response to a government request or on the Board's own initiative. In addition, the Board comments, based on its publicly established opinions, in testimony to Congress. The Board's overall charter is expressed in several subordinate components: discipline oversight, interdisciplinary studies, international activities, and advisory outreach. OVERSIGHT OF SPACE RESEARCH DISCIPLINES The Board has responsibility for strategic planning and oversight in the numerous subdisciplines of space research. This responsibility is discharged through a discipline committee structure and includes preparation of strategic research plans as well as assessment of progress and prioritization of objectives in these disciplines. The standard vehicle for providing long-term research guidance is the research strategy report, which has been used successfully by the Board over many years. In addition, committees may prepare formal assessment reports that examine progress in a discipline in comparison with published Board advice. Committee reports undergo Board and National Research Council review and approval prior to publication. Formally, all Board committee reports are issued as reports of the Board. Individual discipline committees may be called on by the Board, from time to time, to prepare specialized material for use by either the Board or its interdisciplinary committees or task groups. INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES While the emphasis over the years has been on discipline planning and evaluation, the reorganization of the Board recognized a need for crosscutting technical and policy studies in several important areas. To accomplish these objectives, the Board creates executive committees of the Board and ad hoc task groups. Executive committees, constituted exclusively of Board members, are formed for short-period study activities or to serve as initial planning bodies for topics that require subsequent formation of a regular committee or task group. Task groups resemble discipline committees in structure and operation, except that they have finite terms of operation, typically two to three years, and specifically limited tasks. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/an91ch1.htm (3 of 6) [6/18/2004 10:26:30 AM]
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Annual Report 1991: History and Charter of the Board INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATION The Board continues to serve as the U.S. National Committee for the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) Committee on Space Research (COSPAR). The U.S. vice president of COSPAR serves as a member of the Board, and a member of the Board's staff serves as executive secretary for this office. In this capacity, the Board participates in a broad variety of COSPAR panels and committees. As the economic and political integration of Europe progresses, so also does the integration of Europe's space activities. The Board has successfully collaborated with the European space research community on a number of ad hoc joint studies in the past and seeks in a measured way to nurture a joint advisory relationship with this community. ADVISORY OUTREACH The Space Science Board was conceived to provide space research guidance across the federal government. Over the years, the Board's agenda and funding have tended to focus on NASA's space science program. Since the Board's reorganization, however, several influences have acted to expand the breadth of the Board's purview, both within NASA and outside it. First, the incorporation of scientific objectives into manned flight programs such as the shuttle and space station programs, and possibly the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI), necessitates additional interfaces with responsible offices in NASA. Second, the assumption of the space applications responsibilities from the dissolved Space Applications Board has implied a broadening of the sponsorship base, for example to NOAA, with its responsibilities for operational weather satellites. The Department of Commerce also has public responsibility for oversight of the privatized operator of the national civilian land sensing system. Third, the maturation of some of the physical sciences may lead to progressive integration of space and nonspace elements, suggesting a more highly integrated advisory structure. One example is the solar-terrestrial community, where the Board's Committee on Solar and Space Physics has operated for several years in a "federated" structure with the ground-based NRC Committee on Solar-Terrestrial Research. Another example is astronomy; the recently completed report of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee promotes a much closer relationship between space astronomy and ground- based astronomy, the latter primarily supported by the National Science file:///C|/SSB_old_web/an91ch1.htm (4 of 6) [6/18/2004 10:26:30 AM]
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Annual Report 1991: History and Charter of the Board Foundation. Finally, it is becoming more and more apparent that new participants will be involved in space exploration, particularly the Departments of Energy and Defense and the Strategic Defense Initiative Office (SDIO). This is motivated in part by technology programs of mutual interest with NASA, for example, nuclear space propulsion and power systems with the former, and joint development of heavy launch systems with the latter. As a response to these developments, the Board must reach out to nonresearch NASA offices and to other federal agencies, seeking to establish both informal and advisory and corresponding sponsorship relationships as appropriate. Last update 2/22/00 at 4:06 pm Site managed by Anne Simmons, Space Studies Board file:///C|/SSB_old_web/an91ch1.htm (5 of 6) [6/18/2004 10:26:30 AM]