STATEMENT OF TASK
The Space Studies Board shall establish a Survey Committee (the “Committee”) to develop a comprehensive science and mission strategy for planetary science that updates and extends the Board’s current solar system exploration decadal survey, New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy (2003).
The new decadal survey shall broadly canvas the field of space- and ground-based planetary science to determine the current state of knowledge and then identify the most important scientific questions expected to face the community during the interval 2013-2022. In addition, the survey and report shall address relevant programmatic and implementation issues of interest to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Since the content and structure of the program portfolios of the two agencies are distinct from one another, implementation and investment recommendations specific to each agency should be elaborated in separate sections of the final report. This will ensure that the report’s investment guidance will be clearly addressed to the appropriate agency, especially important in the current environment of elevated budget pressures.
It is critically important that the recommendations of the Committee be achievable within the boundaries of anticipated funding. NASA and NSF will provide an up-to-date understanding of these limitations to the at the time of survey initiation. Recommendations of top-line funding increases for planetary science are not appropriate for this survey.
A. Science Survey and Recommendations
The scientific scope of the survey and report shall encompass the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, and Mars), the Earth’s Moon, major planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune), the moons of the major planets, dwarf planets and small bodies, primitive bodies including comets and Kuiper Belt objects, and astrobiology. The report should provide a clear exposition of the following:
1. An overview of planetary science—what it is, why it is a compelling undertaking, and the relationship between space- and ground-based planetary science research;
2. A broad survey of the current state of knowledge of the solar system; and 3. An inventory of the top-level scientific questions that should guide NASA flight mission investigations and supporting research programs and NSF’s programs that support planetary science research. The scientific questions for Mars and the Moon should be integrated with those pertaining to other solar system objects.
In order to ensure consistency with other advice developed by the NRC, specific guidelines for the scientific scope of the survey are as follows:
• With the exception of interactions with the atmospheres, magnetospheres, and surfaces of solar system bodies, which are within scope, solar and heliospheric phenomena are out of scope (these latter topics are treated in the NRC report The Sun to the Earth and Beyond—A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics (2003) and its follow-on decadal survey; they will also be reviewed in the astronomy and astrophysics survey in concurrent development);
• Focused study of the Earth system, including its atmosphere, magnetosphere, surface, and interior, is out of scope (these topics are treated in the NRC report Earth Science and Applications from Space—National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007);
• Basic or supporting ground-based laboratory and theoretical research in astrobiology and areas like comparative planetology are within scope; but flight and ground investigations to detect and characterize exoplanets are out of scope (these topics are being addressed in the astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey in concurrent development).
B. National Science Foundation Recommendations
For NSF, the survey and report shall encompass all ground-based observational techniques, as well as analysis of data collected and relevant laboratory and theoretical investigations (including modeling and simulation). Thus, the study will assess the NSF-supported infrastructure of the field, including research and analysis support, the educational system, instrumentation and technology development, data distribution, analysis, and archiving, theory