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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program
In addition to the Integrated Research Strategy, the decadal survey also considered non-mission-specific initiatives to foster a robust solar and space physics program. The decadal survey set forth driving science challenges as well as recommendations devoted to the need for technology development, collaborations and cooperation with other disciplines, understanding the effects of the space environment on technology and society, education and public outreach, and steps that could strengthen and enhance the research enterprise.
Unfortunately, very little of the recommended NASA program priorities from the decadal survey’sIntegrated Research Strategy will be realized during the period (2004-2013) covered by the survey. Missioncost growth, reordering of survey mission priorities, and unrealized budget assumptions have delayed ordeferred nearly all of the NASA spacecraft missions recommended in the survey. As a result, the status ofthe Integrated Research Strategy going forward is in jeopardy, and the loss of synergistic capabilities inspace will constitute a serious impediment to future progress.
Some of these factors were largely outside NASA’s control, but as the assessments in Chapter 2 of this report detail, many factors were driven by subsequent NASA decisions about mission science content, mission size, and mission sequence. Overcoming these challenges, as well as other key issues like launch vehicle availability, will be critical if NASA is to realize more of the decadal survey’s priorities over the next 5 years as well as priorities in solar and space physics research in the long term. Chapter 3 of this report provides recommendations about how NASA can better fulfill the 2003 decadal survey and improve future decadal surveys in solar and space physics.
In Chapter 2 of this report the Committee on Heliophysics Performance Assessment evaluates NASA’s progress against the 2003 decadal survey recommendations. To make its assessment, the committee employed the following grading system:
A—Achieved or exceeded the goal established in the decadal survey.
B—Made significant progress toward the goal.
C—Made some progress toward the goal.
D—Made little progress toward meeting the decadal goal.
F—Made no progress toward meeting the decadal goal or actually regressed from it.
The committee developed a summary finding to support each grade in this report. Chapter 2 provides additional information supporting each grade, including reprintings of the specific recommendations from the decadal survey and a more detailed assessment of the NASA program response to those recommendations.
Table S.1 summarizes the committee’s assessment, which consists of 21 grades, divided into 7 area assessments covering each chapter of the 2003 decadal survey and 14 program assessments covering the NASA program priorities recommended in the decadal survey.
Seven of the committee’s grades correspond to the seven chapters in the decadal survey, which covered the following areas:
Milestones and Science Challenges
Integrated Research Strategy
Connections Between Solar and Space Physics and Other Disciplines,
Effects of the Solar and Space Environment on Technology and Society
Education and Public Outreach (E/PO)
Strengthening the Solar and Space Physics Research Enterprise.