Space Studies Board

Annual Report 2009



Washington, D.C.

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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2009

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The Space Studies Board is a unit of the National Research Council, which serves as an independent advisor to the federal government on scientific and technical questions of national importance. The National Research Council, jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, brings the resources of the entire scientific and technical community to bear through its volunteer advisory committees. Support for the work of the Space Studies Board and its committees was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration contract NNH06CE15B. Cover: The upper half of the cover is a montage of images taken by the Voyager spacecraft of the planets and four of Jupiter’s moons is set against a false-color image of the Rosette Nebula with Earth’s moon in the foreground (NASA/JPL/ASU); the images in the middle of the cover (left-right) include Earth from space; the International Space Station (NASA); the Sun showing a flare and blast wave from an eruption (NASA SDO); a starburst radio- larian by David A. Caron, USC (Rebecca J. Gast, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution); a solar system montage (NASA/JPL); and M16, the Eagle Nebula (NASA, ESA, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (ASU).

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From the Chair The year 2009 was one of transition for the nation, for NASA, and for the Space Studies Board (SSB). The nation pulled back from 2008’s eco- nomic precipice, but did not return to the path of economic growth that it had been on. The United States inaugurated a new president who set out to build his administration. By mid-year President Obama had announced the appointment of Charlie Bolden as NASA administrator, and Lori Garver as deputy administrator. The president and Charlie Bolden jointly appointed an independent commission, the now well-known “Augustine Commission,” to provide guidance on the future of NASA’s human space- flight program. I was honored to serve on that commission. Many of us had known for quite a while that NASA’s human space- flight program faced a profound change at the time of the retirement of the space shuttle. After all, NASA had depended on it for a generation. That retirement time, 2010, was on us. What would come next? What should come next? The National Research Council appointed a panel, chaired by General Lester Lyles, to consider the goals of the U.S. civil space programs in light of the changes in the United States and its position in the world since the end of the cold war, which had provided the initial impetus for the creation of NASA. That report, America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs was released to the Congress and members of the Administration in early July 2009 and became a foundational document for the Augustine Commission. The Augustine Commission was tasked both to look at the imminent space shuttle retirement and provide technically vetted options for the president and NASA administrator as they set the course for the next decade in human spaceflight. Some of the questions before us were these: How long would the gap be between space shuttle retirement in 2010 and the first launch of a new U.S. human-piloted spacecraft? How does the International Space Station (ISS) fit into the United States’ (and the world’s) future in space? Are there other worthy objectives for hu- man exploration besides the Moon? For the participants, the commission was a four-day-per-week volunteer job throughout the summer and early fall. For a couple of the heroes of the commission, it was more than that. iii

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By now, it would be irrelevant to recount the complex and fascinating discussions that took place, because the president and the NASA administrator have made their choices in the 2011 budget proposal presently before Congress. The ISS program is extended to at least 2020. The United States will increasingly depend on foreign partners and the U.S. launch industry to provide station resupply and human launches to low Earth orbit. NASA will strengthen its technology development program to prepare to send humans beyond low Earth orbit after 2010. NASA will explore a “flexible path” approach to human exploration beyond Earth orbit. The decision to extend the ISS’s lifetime presents a challenge and an opportunity for the space science com- munity. The opportunity is the new funding provided in the 2011 budget for ISS utilization, for both science and technology development. The challenge stems from the fact that the science programs expecting to use the station were sacrificed in the effort to fund its completion. The U.S. ISS scientific community was dispersed and has to be reconstructed. Our foreign partners, who faced no such exigency, have developed sensible scientific programs that take advantage of the access to low gravity provided by the station. The United States can certainly do the same. It will require vision and leadership. Some of that vision is being created as I write by the SSB’s first decadal survey on biological and physical sciences in space, co-chaired by Betsy Cantwell and Wendy Kohrt. However, leadership needs also to be provided by NASA and the broader scientific community. We all will have to work hard. Science cannot afford another program demise. While I was occupied with short-term issues on the Augustine Commission, SSB’s ad hoc committees were fo- cusing on the long term. No fewer than three decadal surveys were initiated. Roger Blandford is leading Astro2010, a survey of astronomy and astrophysics, done from both space and the ground, sponsored jointly by the Board on Physics and Astronomy and the Space Studies Board. Steve Squyres is leading the planetary science decadal survey, and I have already mentioned the survey on biological and physical sciences in space. The SSB also carried out an impressive range of more specialized studies that are recounted in this report. The Space Studies Board and the Aeronautical and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) have decided to hold regular joint meetings. Ray Colladay, ASEB chair, and I both believe that coordination of science and engineer- ing advice will become increasingly necessary as NASA undertakes human exploration programs with scientific content. This year was also a year of transition for the SSB. In 2009, Marcia Smith stepped down as staff director for both SSB and ASEB, and Dick Rowberg had a very good turn at the plate as a pinch-hitter. We are deeply indebted to both of them. We are pleased that, after a successful run as study director for Astro2010, Michael Moloney is now director of SSB and ASEB. The profound work begun in 2009 on the decadal surveys will only see the light of day later as they are released and the scientific work begins. We will have much to report for 2010. Charles F. Kennel Chair Space Studies Board iv

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Space Studies Board Chairs and Vice Chairs Chairs Lloyd V. Berkner (deceased), Graduate Research Center, Dallas, Texas, 1958−1962 Harry H. Hess (deceased), Princeton University, 1962–1969 Charles H. Townes, University of California at Berkeley, 1970−1973 Richard M. Goody, Harvard University, 1974–1976 A.G.W. Cameron (deceased), Harvard College Observatory, 1977−1981 Thomas M. Donahue (deceased), University of Michigan, 1982−1988 Louis J. Lanzerotti, American Telephone & Telegraph Co., Bell Laboratories, 1989−1994 Claude R. Canizares, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994–2000 John H. McElroy (deceased), University of Texas at Arlington, 2000–2003 Lennard A. Fisk, University of Michigan, 2003–2008 Charles F. Kennel, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, 2008– ViCe Chairs George A. Paulikas, The Aerospace Corporation (retired), 2003–2006 A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired), 2006– v

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Contents FROM THE CHAIR iii 1 CHARTER AND ORGANIZATION OF THE BOARD 1 The Origins of the Space Science Board, 1 The Space Studies Board Today, 2 Collaboration With Other National Research Council Units, 4 Assuring the Quality of Space Studies Board Reports, 4 Audience and Sponsors, 7 Outreach and Dissemination, 7 Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship, 7 2 BOARD AND STANDING COMMITTEES: ACTIVITIES AND MEMBERSHIP 8 Space Studies Board, 8 Highlights of Space Studies Board Activities, 8 Space Studies Board Membership, 9 U.S. National Committee for COSPAR, 11 Standing Committees, 11 Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, 11 Committee on Earth Studies, 11 Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life, 13 Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration, 17 Committee on Solar and Space Physics, 17 Space Research Disciplines without Standing Committee Representation, 20 3 AD HOC STUDY COMMITTEES: ACTIVITIES AND MEMBERSHIP 22 Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Cooperation on Space and Earth Science Missions, 22 Assessment of NASA Laboratory Capabilities, 23 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey Committee, 24 Cost Growth in NASA Earth and Space Science Missions, 28 Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, 29 Heliophysics Performance Assessment, 32 NASA’s Suborbital Research Capabilities, 33 Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies, 34 vii

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viii Contents Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample-Return Missions, 35 Planetary Sciences Decadal Survey, 36 Radioisotope Power Systems, 39 Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program, 40 Role and Scope of Mission-Enabling Activities in NASA’s Space and Earth Science Missions, 40 4 WORKSHOPS, SYMPOSIA, MEETINGS OF EXPERTS, AND OTHER SPECIAL PROJECTS 42 Future International Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World, 42 Uncertainty Management in Remote Sensing of Climate Data, 43 5 SUMMARIES OF MAJOR REPORTS 44 5.1 America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs, 45 5.2 Approaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing World: Summary of a Workshop, 50 5.3 Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions, 55 5.4 An Enabling Foundation for NASA’s Earth and Space Missions, 62 5.5 Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report, 66 5.6 A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Heliophysics Program, 68 5.7 Radioisotope Power Systems: An Imperative for Maintaining U.S. Leadership in Space Exploration, 76 5.8 Uncertainty Management in Remote Sensing of Climate Data: Summary of a Workshop, 80 6 CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY 86 7 CUMULATIVE BIBLIOGRAPHY OF SSB REPORTS: 1958-2009 88