abrasion on components and materials, suit docking/undocking systems, and dust-resistant seals. Improved modeling and simulation techniques for lunar thermal environments and dust characterization need to be developed.
Rovers: Windows. Large, lightweight windows with correct optical properties and protection from radiation/ultraviolet, micrometeoroid/orbital debris, blast effects, and scratching would enhance rover capabilities. Research is needed in new materials development, as well as in design.
Terrestrial Analogs. Several terrestrial analogs to space surface systems already exist and more are planned. These very useful facilities should be actively and systematically employed to assess designs, materials, and operation related to habitat design and construction.
The utility of a coherent plan that is appropriately resourced and consistently applied to enable exploration cannot be overemphasized. This is especially noteworthy in light of the frequent and large postponements and redirections that NASA’s exploration-related goals have experienced over the past several decades. NASA’s existing ETDP goals seem well aligned with the panel’s recommendations, with augmentation as specified in this chapter.
Transition of technology on schedule and within budget to meet mission needs is an intellectual challenge worthy of the attention of our nation’s best technologists. Usually it not treated as a job category. Rather, transition involves an ad hoc interplay among engineers transitioning the research findings, scientists continuing to advance the associated technology, and program managers assessing the risk, schedules, and budget. Seldom is the technological handoff a simple process. For example, advances in scientific understanding may be good enough to enable design and fabrication of a prototype of a new or improved major subsystem; nonetheless, research may continue on facets of the technology discovered during the prototyping. More attention should be given to understanding how to accomplish transition of technology within the NASA system. The goal is to reduce the uncertainty of the process for mission managers, thereby reducing unwarranted risk aversion and giving NASA the confidence to use tomorrow’s technology sooner. Transitioning technology on schedule and within budget is integral to mission management. Attention should be given to improving NASA’s confidence in predicting the transition of science to mission application, thereby improving projections of new systems to which NASA can aspire. When establishing major missions, NASA should ensure that program managers, engineers, and scientists will be true partners in transitioning the essential new technology. To improve the process, the specifics leading to successful transitions should be analyzed after the mission. In Chapter 12, the section “Linking Science to Mission Capabilities Through Multidisciplinary Translational Programs” describes more thoroughly the means to transition technology successfully within NASA.
The body of this chapter contains many recommendations. Tables 10.3 and 10.4 above summarize the research areas previously identified by the panel as required for prudent execution of the exploration program. Table 10.3 lists those topics for which information is required for activities that the exploration plan indicates will occur prior to 2020, and Table 10.4 lists research for the activities that are scheduled to occur in 2020 and beyond. Due to the uncertainty surrounding the funding that will be allocated to these various research topics, the panel did not factor in the lead time that would be needed for these research activities to provide answers to the questions they address. For example, planetary surface construction appears in the “2020 and Beyond” table, but it is essential that these activities be undertaken well in advance of 2020 to lead to operational systems and implementation in the 2020 time period. NASA can determine when to initiate a particular research project, based on the level of support and the state of knowledge that exists at the time the decision is made to pursue a future activity so that it will be ready at the appropriate time indicated in the tables. This approach implies that even topic areas listed in Table 10.4, “2020 and Beyond,” might require initiation of the enabling research well before 2020.
Finally, in order for the efforts recommended here to yield the greatest benefit, NASA needs to ensure that explicit and robust organizational mechanisms and structures are in place that promote interdisciplinary collaboration and sharing of knowledge so that successful research is efficiently translated into applications.