The decadal survey should:

  • Define research areas that enable exploration missions or that are enabled by exploration missions;

  • For each of the two categories above, define and prioritize an integrated life and physical sciences research portfolio and associated objectives;

  • Develop a timeline for the next decade for these research objectives and identify dependencies between the objectives;

  • Identify terrestrial, airborne, and space-based platforms and facilities that could most effectively achieve the objectives;

  • Explain how the objectives could enable exploration activities, produce knowledge, or provide benefits to space and other applications;

  • Identify potential research synergies between NASA and other U.S. government agencies, as well as with commercial entities and international partners; and

  • Identify potential research objectives beyond 2020.

The results of the decadal survey will assist in defining and aligning life and physical sciences research to meet the needs of exploration missions. The recommendations regarding the timeline and sequence of research are intended to allow NASA to develop an implementation plan that will impact future exploration missions. The survey should focus on the aforementioned tasks and should not recommend budgetary levels. This decadal survey should build upon the findings and recommendations of previous National Academies’ studies conducted in this area.

Prior to the publication of the final report, a brief interim report will be developed that is intended to address near term challenges faced by NASA as it reorganizes its programs to comply with directions to NASA in the President’s FY 2011 Budget that substantially affect the conduct of ISS science in particular, and life and microgravity science in general. The interim report will focus on issues identified by the committee that relate to:

  1. ISS as a platform for conducting life and physical sciences research, and

  2. Programmatic support of a healthy and sustainable life and physical sciences research program at NASA.

The interim report will identify programmatic needs and issues to guide near-term decisions that are critical to strengthening the organization and management of life and physical sciences research at NASA. The interim report will also identify a number of broad topics that represent near-term opportunities for ISS research. These areas, along with research more suited to other platforms, will be discussed in greater detail in the final report. In addition to any relevant findings, the interim report may include recommendations to the extent that they are useful and that adequate justification for them can be provided in this short report.

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