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Space Studies Board Search: Jump to Top NewsJump to Science in the Subscribe to our FREE e- Headlines newsletter! NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL June 18, 2004 Current Operating Status 1990 Update to Strategy for Exploration of the Inner Planets 9 International Cooperation At the time that the 1978 report was written, planetary exploration was a bipolar enterprise, conducted vigorously by the United States and the Soviet Union. The European Space Agency (ESA) had just been reorganized, and the space programs of Japan, India, and China were in their formative stages. It should therefore come as no surprise that the section on international cooperation in the 1978 report focused exclusively on making our scientific interactions with the Soviets more fruitful. The situation has changed dramatically since the publication of the previous report, however. Research in space science now includes many nations. Western Europe and Japan have independent launch capabilities that can accommodate modest missions to our closest planetary neighbors. Western European nations in particular, both collectively through ESA and in many cases individually, have become important cooperative partners in .American and Soviet planetary missions. Despite a four-year lapse in the U.S.-Soviet bilateral space agreement due to unrelated political issues, cooperation between the two nations formally resumed in 1986 and has attained unprecedented levels of success. In short, the committee's recommendations in the 1978 report have been either largely implemented in the context of U.S.-Soviet cooperation or rendered obsolete by the advent of multipolar exploration capabilities. International cooperation has therefore become a major element in the planetary sciences. This is a positive development for a number of reasons in addition to the scientific concerns. Cooperation in planetary exploration can improve international relations, appeal to decision makers and thus enhance the desirability of a proposed mission, provide potential cost savings to the nations involved, and decrease the length of time between missions. From a scientific perspective, such cooperation broadens the participation by the scientific community, enhances communication and develops valuable contacts, promotes the vitality of the http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/innerch9.html (1 of 3) [6/18/2004 10:07:18 AM]
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Space Studies Board domestic and international scientific community, and allows optimum use of limited launch opportunities. For individual scientists, these opportunities span the gaps between their own nation's missions and provide some measure of continuity in new data and hardware development for training graduate students. With appropriate planning and safeguards some drawbacks of this cooperative mode can be avoided. Cooperation naturally implies some loss of control and that the credit for scientific successes must be more broadly shared. Considerable effort in coordination must be invested, and this has to be balanced against the expected return. Ample preparation must be made for changes in the international climate and the possibility of technical failures that reduce a partner's ability to deliver its planned contribution. Experience shows that the use of appropriate mechanisms on the national and individual level can often safeguard this process. The committee endorses the use of various mechanisms at different levels of cooperation, including bilateral and multilateral government agreements and memoranda of understanding, informal interagency coordinating groups, multinational science working groups, nongovernmental institutional agreements, scientist-to-scientist working relationships, and creative efforts by individual scientists to find productive international arrangements. International cooperation necessarily develops in progressive stages, beginning with small, low-risk endeavors and proceeding to larger, more ambitious activities. The committee recognizes the present advantages of cooperation and encourages further progress with our international partners. As foreign agency programs and our own international activities become more robust, we should seriously consider joint planning and advisory operations with other nations, subject to appropriate concerns for reciprocity and significant contributions from all sides. Because all nations share similar scientific objectives for planetary exploration, care must be taken to avoid unnecessary duplication of space missions. It is now an appropriate time to consider mechanisms for sharing information and optimizing world resources for planetary exploration. In pursuing any cooperative projects or programs, however, it is crucial that NASA maintain scientific integrity. Because the inclusion of foreign scientists and experiments on US. missions can displace American investigators, COMPLEX recommends that their selection be based strongly on scientific merit and that the free flow of scientific data and results be a necessary precondition for any cooperative arrangements. This will allow improved scientific return to be an additional advantage accruing from international cooperation. The formal mechanisms that have evolved for participation of scientists on the.U.S. Mars Observer and the USSR Phobos mission provide a good example. In view of the existing and growing scientific and technological capabilities now enjoyed by a number of nations and agencies for conducting inner planet exploration, NASA should consider all appropriate foreign capabilities available for http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/innerch9.html (2 of 3) [6/18/2004 10:07:18 AM]
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