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Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System C Request for Information Date: March 6, 2008 To: Members of the Space Science Community From: George Paulikas, Chair, and Kathryn Thornton, Vice Chair NRC Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council (NRC) have begun a study of science opportunities enabled by NASA’s Constellation System of launch vehicles and spacecraft. The Committee on Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System will first analyze a set of “Vision Mission” concepts provided by NASA. The results of this analysis will be included in an interim report to be completed by the end of April 2008. The mission concepts that the committee is analyzing for its interim report are listed on the committee’s website: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/constellation2008.html In order to obtain the greatest possible input of ideas from the community about potential mission concepts addressing space science research, we are soliciting input from the broad community concerning ideas for missions or programs that are uniquely enabled by NASA’s Constellation System. The capabilities of the Constellation System, some or all of which should be used in this input, are also available at the committee’s website. These missions or programs can include (but are not limited to): Earth sciences, solar system exploration, heliophysics, astronomy and astrophysics. We invite you to write a concept paper for a new space-based mission or program, from existing or new vantage points, that promises to advance an existing or new scientific objective. Proposals that are selected by the NRC’s Committee on Science Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System will be asked to make a formal presentation at the committee’s third meeting June 9-11 in Boulder, Colorado. The committee will analyze the following information for each mission concept:
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Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System Scientific objectives of the mission concept; A description of the mission concept; The relative technical feasibility of the mission concepts compared to each other; The general cost category into which each mission concept is likely to fall; Benefits of using the Constellation System’s unique capabilities relative to alternative implementation approaches. The committee will identify the mission concepts most deserving of future study. Identification of promising mission concepts by the committee does not imply future study funding by NASA. The time horizon for the launch of possible missions should extend from 2020 to approximately 2035. These may include science missions benefitting from the unique capabilities of the Constellation System, or from human spaceflight enabled by Constellation missions in lunar orbit, other orbits, or missions to planetary objects. In addition, constellations of spacecraft or spacecraft that fly in formation with existing, planned, or future spacecraft may also be considered. The committee will use two criteria for evaluating the concepts: Does the concept offer a significant advance in a scientific field (“significant” is defined as providing an order of magnitude or more improvement over existing or planned missions)? Does the concept have a unique requirement for Constellation System capabilities, e.g., Does use of the Constellation System’s elements make a previously impossible mission technically feasible? Does use of the Constellation System’s elements reduce mission risk or enhance mission success for a previously complicated mission? Does use of the Constellation System capabilities offer a significant cost reduction (i.e., 50 percent or more) in the cost of accomplishing the mission? All responses will be considered non-proprietary public information for distribution with attribution. Those submitting responses must also fill out the relevant (i.e., government or non-government) NRC copyright form provided on the committee’s website. The concept papers should be no longer than ten pages in length and provide the following items (by numbered sections), if possible:11 A summary of the mission concept, including how it is uniquely enabled by the Constellation System. A summary of the science goals, including a description of how the proposed mission will help advance science. In addition to the two criteria listed above, other factors pertaining to the mission concepts may be used to evaluate and prioritize the candidate proposals: Whether the mission has been identified as a high priority or requirement in previous studies, for example NRC reports; How the mission contributes to important scientific questions facing space sciences today (scientific merit, discovery, exploration); How the mission complements other space science systems; NASA has asked the committee to analyze “the general cost category into which each mission concept is likely to fall.” We recognize the lack of accuracy of cost estimates for space missions in the early conceptual stages of development. You may consider using the NASA Advanced Missions Cost Model located at http://cost.jsc.nasa.gov/AMCM.html to determine approximate costs. 1 Ten-page limit is a rough guideline, not an absolute limit, and refers to single-spaced text excluding references and front matter.
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Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System Technology development required by the proposed mission; Risk mitigation provided by use of the Constellation System. Please submit the concept papers to the NRC by May 5, 2008. Papers should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.