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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program Committee on Heliophysics Performance Assessment Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study is based on work supported by Contract NNH06CE15B between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-13656-3 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-13656-3 Cover: Artist’s depiction of the collection of NASA spacecraft constituting the Heliophysics Great Observatory. Images courtesy of NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Cover art and design by Timothy Warchocki. Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program OTHER REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD AND THE AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ENGINEERING BOARD Launching Science: Science Opportunities Provided by NASA’s Constellation System (Space Studies Board [SSB] with Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2009) Assessing the Research and Development Plan for the Next Generation Air Transportation System: Summary of a Workshop (ASEB, 2008) A Constrained Space Exploration Technology Program: A Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program (ASEB, 2008) Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring (SSB, 2008) Final Report of the Committee for the Review of Proposals to the 2008 Engineering Research and Commercialization Program of the Ohio Third Frontier Program (ASEB, 2008) Final Report of the Committee to Review Proposals to the 2008 Ohio Research Scholars Program of the State of Ohio (ASEB, 2008) Managing Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration (ASEB, 2008) NASA Aeronautics Research: An Assessment (ASEB, 2008) Opening New Frontiers in Space: Choices for the Next New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity (SSB, 2008) Review of NASA’s Exploration Technology Development Program: An Interim Report (ASEB, 2008) Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2008) Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report (SSB, 2008) Space Science and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: Summary of a Workshop (SSB, 2008) United States Civil Space Policy: Summary of a Workshop (SSB with ASEB, 2008) Wake Turbulence—An Obstacle to Increased Air Traffic Capacity (ASEB, 2008) Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from Space Studies Board National Research Council The Keck Center of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 (202) firstname.lastname@example.org www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/ssb.html NOTE: These reports are listed according to the year of approval for release, which in some cases precedes the year of publication.
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program COMMITTEE ON HELIOPHYSICS PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT STEPHEN A. FUSELIER, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, Co-Chair RODERICK A. HEELIS, University of Texas at Dallas, Co-Chair THOMAS BERGER, Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory JACK R. JOKIPII, University of Arizona KRISHAN KHURANA, University of California, Los Angeles DANA WARFIELD LONGCOPE, Montana State University GANG LU, National Center for Atmospheric Research KRISTINA A. LYNCH, Dartmouth College FRANK B. McDONALD, University of Maryland, College Park MICHAEL MENDILLO, Boston University ROBERT E. PALMER, Independent Consultant Staff BRANT SPONBERG, Study Director CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Program Associate CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program SPACE STUDIES BOARD CHARLES F. KENNEL, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Chair A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired), Vice Chair DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado STEVEN J. BATTEL, Battel Engineering CHARLES L. BENNETT, Johns Hopkins University YVONNE C. BRILL, Aerospace Consultant ELIZABETH R. CANTWELL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory ANDREW B. CHRISTENSEN, Dixie State College and Aerospace Corporation ALAN DRESSLER, The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution JACK D. FELLOWS, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research FIONA A. HARRISON, California Institute of Technology JOAN JOHNSON-FREESE, Naval War College KLAUS KEIL, University of Hawaii MOLLY K. MACAULEY, Resources for the Future BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire ROBERT T. PAPPALARDO, Jet Propulsion Laboratory JAMES PAWELCZYK, Pennsylvania State University SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of California, Irvine JOAN VERNIKOS, Thirdage LLC JOSEPH F. VEVERKA, Cornell University WARREN M. WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research CHARLES E. WOODWARD, University of Minnesota ELLEN G. ZWEIBEL, University of Wisconsin MARCIA S. SMITH, Director
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program Preface In Section 301(a) of the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the Congress directed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to have “[t]he performance of each division in the Science directorate … reviewed and assessed by the National Academy of Sciences at 5-year intervals.” The first two of these assessments, for NASA’s Astrophysics Division and NASA’s Planetary Science Division, were started in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In late 2007, NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct such an assessment for the agency’s Heliophysics Division (see Appendix A). The statement of task for the Committee on Heliophysics Performance Assessment was to study the alignment of NASA’s Heliophysics Division program with previous NRC advice—primarily the relevant decadal survey report, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics.1 More specifically, the statement of task asked the committee to assess and comment on the following: How well NASA’s current program addresses the strategies, goals, and priorities outlined in the heliophysics decadal survey and other relevant Academy reports; Progress toward realizing these strategies, goals and priorities; and Any actions that could be taken to optimize the science value of the program in the context of current and forecasted resources available to it. The letter of request from NASA also stated that [t]he review should not revisit or alter the scientific priorities or mission recommendations provided in the …  decadal survey, but may provide guidance about implementing the recommended mission portfolio in preparation for the next decadal survey. The committee held three meetings, in April, June, and August 2008. At the April and June meetings, the committee received presentations from members of the decadal survey, members of the astrophysics and planetary mid-decade assessments, the NRC’s Committee on Solar and Space Physics, NASA headquarters staff, NOAA staff, participants in the relevant NASA mission operating working groups, mission scientists, and other members 1 National Research Council, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program of the research community. Because this was a congressionally directed study, the committee also asked relevant congressional staff for input on what kind of report would be most relevant to their work. In addition, committee representatives visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to hear from their scientists and managers about the programs reviewed in this report. The committee thanks those who made formal presentations at its meetings and expresses appreciation to the hosts of and presenters at the site visits. The conversations were sincere, informative, and invaluable to the assessment. The committee also thanks the NASA headquarters staff who provided the budget figures used in this report.
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Craig DeForest, Southwest Research Institute, Janet Kozyra, University of Michigan, Louis J. Lanzerotti, New Jersey Institute of Technology, John Leibacher, National Solar Observatory, Robert P. Lin, University of California, Berkeley, William H. Matthaeus, University of Delaware, and Mark Miesch, National Center for Atmospheric Research. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Peter M. Banks, Astrolabe Venture Partners. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND 10 The Field of Solar and Space Physics, 10 NASA’s Heliophysics Division, 11 The Decadal Survey, 11 The Midterm Assessment, 13 Accomplishments Since the Decadal Survey, 13 Budget Changes Since the Decadal Survey, 17 Other Program Changes Since the Decadal Survey, 22 Challenges to Future Progress, 23 2 ASSESSMENT 25 2.1 Milestones and Science Challenges, 25 2.2 Integrated Research Strategy, 28 2.3 Technology Development, 38 2.4 Connections Between Solar and Space Physics and Other Disciplines, 40 2.5 Effects of the Solar and Space Environment on Technology and Society, 41 2.6 Education and Public Outreach, 43 2.7 Strengthening the Solar and Space Physics Research Enterprise, 44 3 RECOMMENDATIONS 49 Recommendations to Fulfill the Integrated Research Strategy, 49 Other Recommendations to Fulfill the Decadal Survey, 52 Guidance to Improve the Next Decadal Survey, 53 APPENDIXES A Letter of Request from NASA 59 B Committee and Staff Biographical Information 62
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