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Assessment of Solar System Exploration Programs 1991 (Chapter 1) Assessment of Solar System Exploration Programs 1991 1 Introduction The Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration (COMPLEX) advises the Space Studies Board (SSB) on the entire range of planetary studies that can be conducted from space, in addition to ground-based activities that support space-based efforts. The disciplinary scope of the committee's advice includes the geosciences, atmospheres, exobiology, particles and fields, and planetary astronomy. As a standing committee of the Board, COMPLEX assists in carrying out studies, monitoring the implementation of science strategies, and providing recommendations to NASA and other government agencies. In the past, the advice of COMPLEX was directed primarily at NASA's Solar System Exploration Division and the Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA). Although these entities within NASA continue to be the principal recipients of the committee's advice, the scope has been broadened as REPORT MENU a result of the SSB reorganization in 1988-1989. NOTICE MEMBERSHIP FOREWORD Specifically, COMPLEX advice now overs the exobiology branch of the SUMMARY Life Sciences Division of OSSA, as a result of having assumed most of the CHAPTER 1 advisory responsibilities previously performed by SSB's recently disestablished CHAPTER 2 Committee on Planetary Biology and Chemical Evolution (CPBCE). A particular CHAPTER 3 responsibility of CPBCE that has not been assumed by COMPLEX is advice CHAPTER 4 regarding planetary protection issues. In the future, matters relating to those CHAPTER 5 issues will be handled ad hoc by SSB. CHAPTER 6 CHAPTER 7 More generally, the advisory purview of COMPLEX and the other CHAPTER 8 standing committees of the Space Studies Board corresponds to all relevant CHAPTER 9 portions of the agency, including those involved in the science activities related to REFERENCES the presidential Space Exploration Initiative. The Board has also sought to expand its contacts outside NASA. The advice of COMPLEX is therefore directed to others working on planetary exploration policy and programs, whether in the executive or legislative branch of the federal government, in private industry, or in the university research community. This advice has also been used in the past by those planning foreign space programs. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/ssep91ch1.htm (1 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:57:23 PM]
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Assessment of Solar System Exploration Programs 1991 (Chapter 1) The scientific goals that motivate planetary exploration have been outlined most recently in the volume Planetary and Lunar Exploration of the 1988 SSB study Space Science in the Twenty-First Century (SSB, 1988b). These goals are: to understand the origin of the solar system; to understand how the Earth, the planets, and the planetary satellites evolved from birth to the present; to learn what conditions lead to the origin of life; and to learn how physical laws work in large systems. This report assesses the current status of NASA's planetary exploration program with regard to the science strategies and recommendations published in documents by the committee, in related reports by ad hoc SSB committees, and in the advisory documents of the former CPBCE. Exploration of the inner planets, outer planets, and primitive bodies of the solar system is discussed in Chapters 2, 3, and 4, respectively. The detection and study of other solar systems are reviewed in Chapter 5. The relevant science strategy documents include, in chronological order, a "Report of the Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration" in Report on Space Science 1975 (SSB, 1976), Strategy for Exploration of the Inner Planets: 1977-1987 (SSB, 1978), Strategy for Exploration of Primitive Solar-System Bodies—Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites: 1980- 1990 (SSB, 1980), A Strategy for the Exploration of the Outer Planets: 1986-1996 (SSB, 1986b), 1990 Update to Strategy for Exploration of the Inner Planets (SSB, 1990b), and Strategy for the Detection and Study of Other Planetary Systems and Extrasolar Planetary Materials: 1990-2000 (SSB, 1990d). These reports form the core of the committee's advice and are the principal reference base for assessing NASA's progress in solar system exploration. The updated CPBCE science strategy, published in The Search for Life's Origins: Progress and Future Directions in Planetary Biology and Chemical Evolution (SSB, 1990c), is briefly reviewed in Chapter 6. Recommendations for the management of space science data, which were established by SSB's Committee on Data Management and Computation in the report Data Management and Computation, Volume 1: Issues and Recommendations (SSB, 1982), are discussed in Chapter 7. Aspects of international cooperation are discussed in Chapter 8. Reports relevant to the latter issue that were written by SSB ad hoc committees include United States and Western Europe Cooperation in Planetary Exploration (SSB, 1986d), and International Cooperation for Mars Exploration and Sample Return (SSB, 1990a). General programmatic issues are discussed in Chapter 9, including aspects of a newly proposed program of small missions for planetary exploration, concerns about the impacts of inadequate file:///C|/SSB_old_web/ssep91ch1.htm (2 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:57:23 PM]
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Assessment of Solar System Exploration Programs 1991 (Chapter 1) reserves fro flight programs, and several issues related to research and analysis programs. The committee has provide ancillary information in the form of letter reports to address the scientific content of the Comet Rendezvous/Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) and Cassini (Saturn Orbiter/Titan Probe) missions, the science impact of descoping the Mars Observer mission, and a scientific evaluation of three proposed Planetary Observer missions—the Mars Aeronomy Orbiter, the Lunar Geoscience Orbiter, and the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous. However, the content of these letter reports is not discussed in this report. Last update 12/7/00 at 2:51 pm Site managed by Anne Simmons, Space Studies Board file:///C|/SSB_old_web/ssep91ch1.htm (3 of 4) [6/18/2004 1:57:23 PM]