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5 Summaries of Major Reports This chapter reprints the summaries of Space Studies Board (SSB) reports that were released in 2010 (note that the official publication date may be 2011). Reports are often written in conjunction with other National Research Council Boards, including the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA), or the Laboratory Assessments Board (LAB), as noted. One report was released in 2009 but published in 2010—An Enabling Foundation for NASA’s Earth and Space Mission—its Summary was reprinted in Space Studies Board Annual Report—2009. 43
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44 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 5.1 Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Collaboration on Space and Earth Science Missions A Report of the SSB Ad Hoc Committee on Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Cooperation on Space and Earth Science Missions Executive Summary Through an examination of case studies, agency briefings, and existing reports, and drawing on personal knowl- edge and direct experience, the Committee on Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Cooperation on Space and Earth Science Missions found that candidate projects for multiagency collaboration1 in the development and implementation of Earth-observing or space science missions are often intrinsically complex and, therefore costly, and that a multiagency approach to developing these missions typically results in additional complexity and cost. Advocates of collaboration have sometimes underestimated the difficulties and associated costs and risks of dividing responsibility and accountability between two or more partners; they also discount the possibility that collaboration will increase the risk in meeting performance objectives. This committee’s principal recommendation is that agencies should conduct Earth and space science projects independently unless: • It is judged that cooperation will result in significant added scientific value to the project over what could be achieved by a single agency alone; or • Unique capabilities reside within one agency that are necessary for the mission success of a project managed by another agency; or • The project is intended to transfer from research to operations necessitating a change in esponsibility r from one agency to another during the project; or • There are other compelling reasons to pursue collaboration, for example, a desire to build capacity at one of the cooperating agencies. Even when the total project cost may increase, parties may still find collaboration attractive if their share of a mission is more affordable than funding it alone. In these cases, alternatives to interdependent reliance on another government agency should be considered. For example, agencies may find that buying services from another agency or pursuing interagency coordination of spaceflight data collection is preferable to fully interdependent cooperation. LESSONS FROM INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION Important lessons for national interagency collaboration efforts may also be learned from experiences with international collaboration (i.e., more than one country working together). In particular, the committee found that the U.S. experience in international collaborative projects is instructive with regard to the degree of upfront planning involved to define clear roles, responsibilities, and interfaces consistent with each entity’s strategic plans. Experience has shown that collaborative projects almost invariably lead to increased costs. When additional participants join a project, the basic costs remain, but the costs of duplicating management systems and of managing interactions must be added. It is also important to recognize that even though the overall cost of the program may increase, the cost to each partner is often decreased, thus making a program more affordable to each partner. With NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Collaboration on Space and Earth Science Missions, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010, pp. 1-4, released in prepublication form on November 23, 2010. 1In this report, “collaboration” is used as an overarching term that refers to more than one agency working together, and four types of collabo - ration are defined by the committee, based on the degrees of interdependency between collaborating entities. Although the committee’s name refers to “cooperation,” which is taken from the congressional call for this study, the committee treated “cooperation” as one of the four types of collaboration in which two or more agencies collaborate in such as way that makes each agency dependent on the other for the project’s success.
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45 Summaries of Major Reports international cooperation, the cost of a program to the U.S. government can be decreased, since a foreign govern- ment is absorbing some of the basic costs. With interagency cooperation, the cost to the government inevitably rises, because the basic cost plus the additional costs must all be absorbed by the participating U.S. agencies. A prerequisite for a successful international collaboration is that all parties believe the collaboration is of mutual benefit. Proposals for interagency collaboration within the United States should receive similar serious attention as part of each agency’s strategic decision-making process prior to proceeding with technical commitments and pro- curements. As with international agreements, interagency agreements should not be entered into lightly and should be undertaken only with full assessment of the inherent complexities and risks. IMPEDIMENTS TO INTERAGENCY COLLABORATION Impediments to interagency collaboration can result from sources both internal and external to the agencies themselves. Internal sources can include conflicts that result from differing agency goals, ambitions, cultures, and stakeholders, and agency-unique technical standards and processes. External sources can include the differing bud- get cycles for agencies—especially for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which must first submit its budget to the Department of Commerce—each of which has different congressional authorization and appropriation subcommittees, budget instability, and changes in policy direction from the administration and Congress. These impediments manifest themselves as impacts to mission success and as changes in cost, schedule, performance, and associated risks. The most serious impediments to collaboration are external to the agencies. They are typically symptoms of conflicting policies that are often not made explicit at the beginning of proposed cooperative efforts. Such impedi- ments manifest themselves as different budget priorities by agencies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Congress toward the same collaborative activity. While there may be acknowledgement of the value of col- laboration at a national level, at the implementation level decision makers can be unwilling to prioritize collaboration above other agency mission assignments and constraints. As detailed in Chapter 3 of this report, many of the impediments to interagency collaboration, both internal and external, manifest themselves as impediments to good systems engineering. Good systems engineering and project management techniques2 are important in any space mission, but especially when multiple organizations are involved. The inevitable creation of seams (i.e., divisions of responsibility and/or accountability between par- ticipants for planning, funding, decision making, and project execution) as a result of interagency collaboration is a source of technical and programmatic risks. Such risks could include failure to meet agreed technical performance requirements, compromised system reliability, unacceptable schedule delays, or cost overruns, and mitigating such shortfalls requires proactive management and attention. The committee identified a number of impediments that should be considered and addressed prior to the start of collaboration, and it outlines below a number of best practices to mitigate risk at various stages of mission devel- opment. From its consideration of numerous case studies (Appendix C), the committee found that interagency collaboration based on working-level collaborations among the agencies’ technical staff is preferred to top-down direction to pursue collaboration (e.g., via policy edict), because top-down direction may be burdened from the beginning with a lack of working-level buy-in. Successful collaboration was also found to be more likely when each agency considers the partnership one of its highest priorities; such an understanding should be codified in signed agreements that also document the terms of the collaboration’s management and operations. GOVERNANCE AND INTERAGENCY COLLABORATION To facilitate interagency collaborations, there is a need for coordinated oversight by the executive and legislative branches. Because the current roles of OMB and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) are not suited to this kind of day-to-day operational oversight, some other governance mechanism may be needed to facilitate 2By systems engineering the committee means the process by which the performance requirements, interfaces, and interactions of multiple elements of a complex system such as a spacecraft are analyzed, designed, integrated, and operated so as to meet the overall requirements of the total system within the physical constraints on and resources available to the system. By project management the committee means the overall management of the budget, schedule, performance requirements, and assignments of team member roles and responsibilities for the develop - ment of a complex system such as a scientific spacecraft.
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46 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 accountable decision making across multiple agencies while providing senior administration and congressional support for those decisions. The committee recommends that if OSTP, OMB, or the Congress wishes to encourage a particular interagency research collaboration, then specific incentives and support for the interagency project should be provided. Such incentives and support could include facilitating cross-cutting budget submissions; protecting funding for interagency projects; providing freedom to move needed funds across appropriation accounts after approval of a cross-cutting budget; multiyear authorizations; lump-sum appropriations for validated independent cost estimates; minimization of external reviews that are not part of the project’s approved implementation plans; and unified reporting to Congress and OMB, as opposed to separate agency submissions. The committee also investigated the particular problems associated with NASA-NOAA collaboration in support of climate research. Ensuring the continuity of measurements of particular climate variables, sustaining measure- ments of the climate system, and developing and maintaining climate data records are long-standing problems rooted in the mismatch of agency charters and budgets. As noted in the 2007 National Research Council decadal survey, Earth Science and Applications from Space,3 the nation’s civil space institutions, including NASA and NOAA, have responsibilities that are in many cases mismatched with their authorities and resources: institutional mandates are inconsistent with agency charters, budgets are not well matched to emerging needs, and shared responsibilities are supported inconsistently by mechanisms for cooperation. This committee concurs with the decadal survey com- mittee, which concluded that solutions to these issues will require action at a level of the federal government above that of the agencies. FACILITATING SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATIONS Successful interagency collaborations (i.e., those that have achieved their mission objectives and satisfied sponsor goals) share many common characteristics that are, in turn, the result of realistic assessment of agency self-interests and capabilities before and during the collaboration, and involve a disciplined attention to systems engineering and project management best practices.4 The committee recommends that the following key ele- ments be incorporated in every interagency Earth and space science collaboration agreement: • A small and achievable priority list. Projects address a sharply focused set of priorities and have clear goals. Agreement is based on specific projects rather than general programs. • A clear process to make decisions and settle disputes. Project decision making is driven by an intense focus on mission success. This is facilitated by formal agreement at the outset on explicitly defined agency roles and responsibilities and should involve agreed processes for making management decisions, single points of account- ability (i.e., not committees), and defined escalation paths to resolve disputes. Long-term planning, including the identification of exit strategies, is undertaken at the outset of the project and includes consideration of events that might trigger a reduction-in-scope or cancellation review and associated fallback options if there are unexpected technical difficulties or large cost overruns that make the collaboration untenable. • Clear lines of authority and responsibility for the project. Technical and organizational interfaces are simple and aligned with the roles, responsibilities, and relative priorities of each collaborating entity. Project roles and responsibilities are consistent with agency strengths and capabilities. Expert and stable project management has both the time and the resources available to manage the collaboration. Specific points of contact for each agency are identified. Agency and project leadership provides firm resistance to changes in scope. When possible, one of the collaborating agencies should be designated as the lead agency with ultimate responsibility and accountability for executing the mission within the agreed set of roles and responsibilities, command structure, and dispute resolution process defined in a Memorandum of Understanding. In some cases the lead agency might change as a function of time, as for missions in which the lead agency differs between the implementation and operations phases. • Well-understood participation incentives for each agency and its primary stakeholders. All parties share a common commitment to mission success and are confident in and rely on the relevant capabilities of each collaborating agency. Each agency understands how it benefits from the cooperation and recognizes that collabora- 3National Research Council, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond , The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007, available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11820. 4The committee’s views on best-practice approaches to systems engineering and project management are outlined below in the section entitled “Mitigating the Risks of Interagency Collaboration.”
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47 Summaries of Major Reports tive agreements may need to be revisited at regular intervals in response to budgetary and political changes. There is buy-in from political leadership (e.g., senior administration, Congress, and agency-level administrators), which can help projects past the inevitable rough spots. There is a general spirit of intellectual and technical commitment from the agency workforce and contractors to help projects mitigate the disruptive effects of technical and program- matic problems that are likely to occur. Early and frequent stakeholder involvement throughout the mission keeps all stakeholders informed, manages expectations, and provides appropriate external input. • Single acquisition, funding, cost control, and review processes. There is a single agency with acquisition authority, and each participating entity accepts financial responsibility for its own contributions to joint projects. Reliance on multiple appropriation committees for funding is avoided or reduced to the smallest possible extent. Cost control is ideally the responsibility of a single stakeholder or institution, because without a single point of cost accountability, shared costs tend to grow until the project is in crisis. Single, independent technical and management reviews occur at major milestones, including independent cost reviews at several stages in the project life cycle. • Adequate funding and stakeholder support to complete the task. Funding adequacy is based on techni- cally credible cost estimates with explicitly stated confidence levels. In summary, engaging in collaboration carries significant cost and schedule risks that need to be actively mitigated. Agencies are especially likely to seek collaborators for complex missions so that expected costs can be shared. However, as the committee observed from historical experience and interviews, inefficiencies arise when collaborating agencies’ goals, authorities, and responsibilities are not aligned. Thus, collaborations require higher levels of coordination, additional management layers, and greater attention to mechanisms for conflict resolution.
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48 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 5.2 Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research A Report of the LAB, SSB, and ASEB Ad Hoc Committee on the Assessment of NASA Laboratory Capabilities Summary The National Research Council (NRC) selected and tasked the Committee on the Assessment of NASA Labora- tory Capabilities to assess the status of the laboratory capabilities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administra- tion (NASA) and to determine whether they are equipped and maintained to support NASA’s fundamental research activities. Over the past 5 years or more, there has been a steady and significant decrease in NASA’s laboratory capabilities, including equipment, maintenance, and facility upgrades. This adversely affects the support of NASA’s scientists, who rely on these capabilities, as well as NASA’s ability to make the basic scientific and technical contri- butions that others depend on for programs of national importance. The fundamental research community at NASA has been severely impacted by the budget reductions that are responsible for this decrease in laboratory capabilities, and as a result NASA’s ability to support even NASA’s future goals is in serious jeopardy. This conclusion is based on the committee’s extensive reviews conducted at fundamental research laboratories at six NASA centers (Ames Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Langley Research Center, and Marshall Space Flight Center), discussions with a few hundred scientists and engineers, both during the reviews and in private sessions, and in-depth meetings with senior technology managers at each of the NASA centers. Several changes since the mid-1990s have had a significant adverse impact on NASA’s funding for laboratory equipment and support services: • Control of the research and technology “seed corn” investment was moved from an associate administrator focused on strategic technology investment and independent of important flight development programs’ short-term needs, to an associate administrator responsible for executing such flight programs. The predictable result was a substantial reduction over time in the level of fundamental—lower technology readiness level, TRL—research budgets, which laboratories depend on to maintain and enhance their capabilities, including the procurement of equipment and support services. The result was a greater emphasis on higher TRL investments, which would reduce project risk. • A reduction in funding of 48 percent for the aeronautics programs over the period fiscal year (FY) 2005-FY 2009 has significantly challenged NASA’s ability to achieve its mission to advance U.S. technological leadership in aeronautics in partnership with industry, academia, and other government agencies that conduct aeronautics-related research and to keep U.S. aeronautics in the lead internationally. • Institutional responsibility for maintaining the health of the research centers was changed from the associ- ate administrator responsible for also managing the technology investment to the single associate administrator to whom all the center directors now report. • NASA changed from a budgeting and accounting system in which all civil service manpower was covered in a single congressional appropriation to one in which all costs, including manpower, had to be budgeted and ac- counted for against a particular program or overhead account. NASA personnel at the centers reported that reductions in budgets supporting fundamental research have had several consequences: NOTE: “Summary” reprinted from Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010, pp. 1-4.
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49 Summaries of Major Reports • Equipment and support have become inadequate. • Centers are unable to provide adequate and stable funding and manpower for the fundamental science and technology advancements needed to support long-term objectives. • Research has been deferred. • Researchers are expending inordinate amounts of time writing proposals seeking funding to maintain their laboratory capabilities. • Efforts are diverted as researchers seek funding from outside NASA for work that may not be completely consistent with NASA’s goals. The institutional capabilities of the NASA centers, including their laboratories, have always been critical to the successful execution of NASA’s flight projects. These capabilities have taken years to develop and depend very strongly on highly competent and experienced personnel and the infrastructure that supports their research. Such capabilities can be destroyed in a short time if not supported with adequate resources and the ability to hire new people to learn from those who built and nurtured the laboratories. Capabilities, once destroyed, cannot be reconsti- tuted rapidly at will. Laboratory capabilities essential to the formulation and execution of NASA’s future missions must be properly resourced. In the Strategic Plan for the Years 2007-2016, NASA states that it cannot accomplish its mission and vision without a healthy and stable research program. The fundamental research community at NASA is not provided with healthy or stable funding for laboratory capabilities, and therefore NASA’s vision and missions for the future are in jeopardy. The innovation and technologies required to advance aeronautics, explore the outer planets, search for intelligent life, and understand the beginnings of the universe have been severely restricted by a short-term perspec- tive and funding. The changes in the management of fundamental research represent a structural impediment to resolving this problem. Despite all these challenges, the NASA researchers encountered by the committee remain dedicated to their work and focused on NASA’s future. Approximately 20 percent of all NASA facilities are dedicated to research and development: on average, they are not state of the art: they are merely adequate to meet current needs. Nor are they attractive to prospective hires when compared with other national and international laboratory facilities. Over 80 percent of NASA facilities are more than 40 years old and need significant maintenance and upgrades to preserve the safety and continuity of operations for critical missions. A notable exception to this assessment is the new science building commissioned at GSFC. NASA categorizes the overall condition of its facilities, including the research centers, as “fairly good,” but deferred maintenance (DM) over the past 5 years has grown substantially. Every year, NASA is spending about 1.5 percent of the current replacement value (CRV) of its active facilities on maintenance, repairs, and upgrades,1 but the accepted industry guideline is between 2 percent and 4 percent of CRV.2 Deferred maintenance grew from $1.77 billion to $2.46 billion from 2004 to 2009, presenting a staggering repair and maintenance bill for the future. The facilities that house fundamental research activities at NASA are typically old and require more maintenance than current funding will permit. As a result, they are crowded and often lack the modern layouts and utilities that improve operational efficiency. The equipment and facilities of NASA’s fundamental research laboratories are inferior to those witnessed by committee members at comparable laboratories at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), at top-tier U.S. universi- ties, and at many corporate research institutions and are comparable to laboratories at the Department of Defense (DOD). If its basic research facilities were equipped to make them state of the art, NASA would be in a better position to maintain U.S. leadership in the space, Earth, and aeronautical sciences and to attract the scientists and engineers needed for the future. The committee believes that NASA could reverse the decline in laboratory capabilities cited above by restor- ing the balance between funding for long-term fundamental research and technology development and short-term, mission-focused applications. The situation could be significantly improved if fundamental long-term research and advanced technology development at NASA were managed and nurtured separately from short-term mission pro- grams. Moreover, in the light of recent significant changes in direction, NASA might wish to consider re-evaluating its strategic plan and developing a tactical implementation plan that will create, manage, and financially support the 1NASA FY 2008 Budget. Available at http://www.nasa.gov/news/budget/FY2008.html. 2Statement made by William L. Gregory, member of the NRC Committee to Assess Techniques for Developing Maintenance and Repair Budgets for Federal Facilities, to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, Hazardous Material and Pipeline Transportation, April 29, 1999.
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50 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 needed research capabilities and associated laboratories, equipment, and facilities. NASA is increasingly relying on a contractor-provided technician workforce to support those needs. If this practice continues, and if a strategy to ensure the continuity and retention of technical knowledge as the agency increasingly relies on a contractor- provided technician workforce is not currently in place, then such a strategy should be considered. Researchers in the smaller laboratories are forced to buy necessary laboratory equipment from their modest research grants, and it is not unusual for researchers in the larger laboratories to operate them at reduced throughput or not at all because the sophisticated and expensive research equipment for maintaining state-of-the-art capabilities is not being procured in sufficient quantities. Mechanisms need to be found that will provide the equipment and support services required to conduct the high-quality fundamental research befitting the nation’s top aeronautics and space institution. The specific findings and recommendations of this report are as follows: Finding 1. On average, the committee classifies the facilities and equipment observed in the NASA laborato- ries as marginally adequate, with some clearly being totally inadequate and others being very adequate. The trend in quality appears to have been downward in recent years. NASA is not providing sufficient labora- tory equipment and support services to address immediate or long-term research needs and is increasingly relying on the contract technician workforce to support the laboratories and facilities. Researchers in the smaller laboratories are forced to buy needed laboratory equipment from their modest research grants, while it is not unusual for researchers in the larger laboratories/facilities to operate facilities at reduced capabilities or not at all due to lack of needed repair resources. The sophisticated and expensive research equipment needed to achieve and maintain state-of-the-art capabilities is not being procured. Recommendation 1A. Sufficient equipment and support services needed to conduct high-quality funda- mental research should be provided to NASA’s research community. Recommendation 1B. If a strategy is not currently in place to ensure the continuity and retention of techni - cal knowledge as the agency increasingly relies on a contractor-provided technician workforce, then such a strategy should be considered. Finding 2. The facilities that house fundamental research activities at NASA are typically old and require more maintenance than funding permits. As a result, research laboratories are crowded and often lack the modern layouts and utilities that improve operational efficiency. The lack of timely maintenance can lead to safety issues, particularly with large, high-powered equipment. A notable exception is the new science building commissioned at Goddard Space Flight Center in 2009. Recommendation 2A. NASA should find a solution to its deferred maintenance issues before catastrophic failures occur that will seriously impact missions and research operations. Recommendation 2B. To optimize limited maintenance resources, NASA should implement predictive- equipment-failure processes, often known as health monitoring, currently used by many organizations. Finding 3. Over the past 5 years or more, the funding of fundamental research at NASA, including the fund- ing of facilities and equipment, has declined dramatically, such that unless corrective action is taken soon, the fundamental research community at NASA will be unable to support the agency’s long-term goals. For example, if funding continues to decline, NASA may not be able to claim aeronautics technology leadership from an international and in some areas even a national perspective. Recommendation 3A. To restore the health of the fundamental research laboratories, including their equip- ment, facilities, and support services, NASA should restore a better funding and leadership balance between long-term fundamental research/technology development and short-term mission-focused applications. Recommendation 3B. NASA must increase resources to its aeronautics laboratories and facilities to attract and retain the best and brightest researchers and to remain at least on a par with international aeronautical research organizations in Europe and Asia.
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51 Summaries of Major Reports Finding 4. Based on the experience and expertise of its members, the committee believes that the equipment and facilities at NASA’s basic research laboratories are inferior to those at comparable DOE laboratories, top-tier U.S. universities, and corporate research laboratories and are about the same as those at basic research laboratories of DOD. Recommendation 4. NASA should improve the quality and equipping of its basic research facilities, to make them at least as good as those at top-tier universities, corporate laboratories, and other better-equipped government laboratories in order to maintain U.S. leadership in the space, Earth, and aeronautic sciences and to attract the scientists and engineers needed for the future.
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52 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 5.3 Controlling Cost Growth of NASA Earth and Space Science Missions A Report of the SSB Ad Hoc Committee on Cost Growth in NASA Earth and Space Science Missions Summary STUDY BACKGROUND Cost growth in Earth and space science missions conducted by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a longstanding problem with a wide variety of interrelated causes. To address this concern, the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-422) directed the NASA administrator to sponsor an “independent external assessment to identify the primary causes of cost growth in the large-, medium-, and small-sized Earth and space science spacecraft mission classes, and make recommendations as to what changes, if any, should be made to contain costs and ensure frequent mission opportunities in NASA’s science spacecraft mission programs.” NASA subsequently requested that the National Research Council (NRC) conduct a study to: • Review the body of existing studies related to NASA space and Earth science missions and identify their key causes of cost growth and strategies for mitigating cost growth; • Assess whether those key causes remain applicable in the current environment and identify any new major causes; and • Evaluate effectiveness of current and planned NASA cost growth mitigation strategies and, as appropriate, recommend new strategies to ensure frequent mission opportunities. As part of this effort, NASA also asked the NRC to “note what differences, if any, exist with regard to Earth science compared with space science missions.” COST GROWTH—MAGNITUDE AND CAUSES NASA identified 10 cost studies and related analyses that this study uses as its primary references (listed in the References chapter and in Table 1.1). The committee generally concurs with the consensus viewpoints expressed in these studies as a whole, but in some areas, the studies reached different conclusions. For example, the prior studies calculated values for average cost growth ranging from 23 percent to 77 percent. Different studies reach different conclusions because they examine different sets of missions and calculate cost growth based on different criteria. By definition, cost growth is a relative measure reflecting comparison of an initial estimate of mission costs against costs actually incurred at a later time. But studies use initial estimates made at different points in mission life cycles (see Figure S.1), as well as cost estimates that cover different phases of mission life cycles. For example, some studies consider only development costs (up to but not including launch), but other studies consider all costs through the end of each mission. In general, the earlier the initial estimate, the more the cost will grow. In addition, including a larger share of the later phases of a mission (such as launch, operations, and analysis of data collected by a mission) increases the total cost assigned to each mission and the absolute value of the cost growth (in dollars). These differences make it very difficult to derive a single, reliable value for the average cost growth of NASA Earth and space science mis- sions on the basis of previous studies. The primary references also indicate that most cost growth occurs after critical design review. This implies that the required level of cost reserves remains substantial, even late in the development process. In addition, a relatively small number of missions cause most of the total cost growth. For one large set of 40 missions, 92 percent of the total cost growth (in dollars) was caused by only 14 missions (one-third of the total number). Conversely, the 26 missions with the least cost growth (two-thirds of the total number) accounted for only 8 percent of the total cost growth (see Figure S.2). NOTE: “Summary” reprinted from Controlling Cost Growth of NASA Earth and Space Science Missions, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010, pp. 1-7.
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53 Summaries of Major Reports Approval NASA Life- Formulation Implementation Cycle Phases Pre-Phase A: Phase A: Phase B: Phase C: Phase D: Phase E: Phase F: Project Life- Concept Concept and Preliminary Final Design System Operations and Closeout Cycle Phases Studies Technology Design and and Fabrication Assembly, Sustainment Development Technology Integration, Completion Test, and Launch End of Mission Selected Preliminary Critical System Mission Reviews Requirements Design Design Review Review Review FIGURE S.1 NASA mission life cycle. SOURCE: Based on NASA Procedural Requirements 7120.5D (NASA, 2007). Initial cost—directed missions $950M Initial cost—AO missions Cost growth—14 missions with most cost growth $900M Cost growth—26 missions with least cost growth These 14 missions together account $850M for 92% of the total cost growth for $800M all 40 missions in this figure $750M Initial Cost Estimate / Absolute Cost Growth $700M $650M $600M $550M $500M $450M These 26 missions together account $400M for just 8% of the total cost growth for all 40 missions in this figure $350M $300M $250M $200M $150M $100M $50M $0M -$50M G TF M LIP rob M sen , 2 B, EO R, er, 06 004 ST 1, 03 004 C E0 SW U , 2 M SA pac 99 EO , 2 20 200 TI -A 05 FU SS 20 1 FA AC 999 M RC 996 M E- L, TH GE 01 TR MI 200 M ar 19 7 N S, 99 SI C vity 00 AC R, 98 EO , 1 96 La IFT AT 6 D sa 00 00 IC p I -7, SWED a, G AS 200 04 G EX 99 C es 200 R tou , 20 D,0 W 1, 1 999 G E, 98 SO T, 20 H /M 0 IM , 2 Lu E 20 St s P osp TR rdu hfin cto M M 19 er, 199 EA 19 7 LO O ra , 2 A P3 es SO e on is 3 Hr0 S- 1 02 E g02 ee t 4 6 R T, t, C E, ET P 0 AP II, 19 ar Pr 98 AL , 1 1 en , 8 R1 M ur G , 1 99 19 8 R IR 9 a at e E m 19 nd , 2 , 2 A 0 00 n,0 ER 200 S E, SE I, 2 02 E, AC S, 0 M st, d r, -02 S0 35 E E, S- 997 O O2 Aq 2 D0 , 20 1 02 19 S0 ua 20 98 ,2 0 3 00 2 96 FIGURE S.2 Ranking of 40 NASA science missions in terms of absolute cost growth in excess of reserves in millions of dollars, excluding launch, mission operations, and data analysis, with initial cost and launch date for each mission also shown. NOTE: Acronyms are defined in Appendix D. SOURCE: Based on data from Tom Coonce, NASA Headquarters, e-mail to committee member Joseph W. Hamaker, December 21, 2009.
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94 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 the panel recommends that LSST should precede GSMT into the MREFC approval process. The LSST construction should start no later than 2014 in order to maintain the project’s momentum, capture existing expertise, and provide critical synergy with GSMT. 3. The panel recommends that NSF, following the completion of the necessary reviews, should commit to sup- porting the construction of its selected GSMT through the MREFC line at an equivalent of a 25 percent share of the total construction cost, thereby securing a significant public partnership role in one of the GSMT projects. 4. The panel recommends that in the longer term NSF should pursue the ultimate goal of a 50 percent public interest in GSMT capability, as articulated in the 2001 decadal survey (Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium). Reaching this goal will require (most likely in the decade 2021-2030) supporting one or both of the U.S.-led GSMT projects at a cost equivalent to an additional 25 percent GSMT interest for the federal government. The panel does not prescribe whether NSF’s long-term investment should be made through shared operations costs or through instrument development. Neither does the panel prescribe whether the additional investment should be made in the selected MREFC-supported GSMT in which a 25 percent partnership role is proposed already for the federal government. But the panel does recommend that, in the long run, additional support should be provided with the goal of attaining telescope access for the U.S. community corresponding to total public access to 50 percent of the equivalent of a GSMT. Medium Projects and Activities In assembling its prioritized program, the panel became convinced of the strategic importance of the entire national OIR enterprise, including all facilities—public and private. The panel crafted its program to maximize the scientific return for the entire U.S. astronomical community and to maintain a leading role for OIR astronomy on the global stage. • The panel recommends as its highest-priority medium activity a new medium-scale instrumentation program in NSF’s Astronomy division (AST) that supports projects with costs between those of standard grant funding and those for the MREFC. To foster a balanced set of resources for the astronomical community, this program should be open to proposals to build (1) instruments for existing telescopes and (2) new telescopes across all ground-based astronomical activities, including solar astronomy and radio astronomy. The program should be designed and executed within the context of and to maximize the achievement of science priorities of the ground-based OIR sys- tem. Proposals to the medium-scale instrumentation program should be peer-reviewed. OIR examples of activities that could be proposed for the program include massively multiplexed optical/NIR spectrographs, adaptive optics systems for existing telescopes, and solar initiatives following on from the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. The panel recommends funding this program at a level of approximately $20 million annually. • As its second-highest-priority medium activity, the panel recommends enhancing the support of the OIR system of telescopes by (1) increasing the funds for the Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP) and (2) adding support for the small-aperture telescopes into a combined effort that will advance the capabilities and science priorities of the U.S. ground-based OIR system. The OIR system includes telescopes with apertures of all sizes, whereas the TSIP was established to address the needs of large telescopes. The panel recommends an increase in the TSIP budget to approximately $8 million (FY2009) annually. Additional funding for small-aperture telescopes in support of the recommendations of the National Optical Astronomical Observatory (NOAO) Renewing Small Telescopes for Astronomical Research (ReSTAR) committee (approximately $3 million per year) should augment the combined effort to a total of approximately $11 million (FY2009) to encompass all apertures. The combined effort will serve as a mechanism for coordinating the development of the OIR system. To be effective, the funding level and funding opportunities for this effort must be consistent from year to year. Although it is possible that the total combined resources could be administered as a single program, the implementation of such a program raises difficult issues, such as formulas for the value of resources or the need to rebuild infrastructure. The panel considers the administration of two separate programs under the umbrella of System Development to be a simpler alternative. The expanded TSIP and the midscale instrumentation program both provide opportunities to direct these instrumentation funds strategically toward optimizing and balancing the U.S. telescope system. • The U.S. system of OIR telescopes currently functions as a collection of federal and nonfederal telescope resources that would benefit from collaborative planning and management—for example, to avoid unnecessary instrument duplication between telescopes. The panel recommends that NSF ensures that a mechanism exists,
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95 Summaries of Major Reports operating in close concert with the nonfederal observatories, for the management of the U.S. telescope system. The panel recommends that a high priority be given to renewing the System of ground-based OIR facilities, requiring a new strategic plan and a broadly accepted process for its implementation. Small Programs The panel concluded that initiating a tactical set of small targeted programs (each between $1 million and $3 million per year) would greatly benefit ground-based OIR science in the coming decade and would provide criti- cal support for some of the medium and large programs. The panel recommends the programs in the following, unprioritized list: • An adaptive optics technology development program (AODP) at the $2 million to $3 million per year level. • An interferometry operations and development program at a level of approximately $3 million per year. • An integrated ground-based astronomy data archiving program starting at a level of approximately $2 mil- lion per year and ramping down to approximately $1 million per year. • A “strategic theory” program at the level of approximately $3 million per year. Recommendations for Adjustments to Continuing Activities The panel makes the following recommendations for continuing activities: • NSF should continue to support the National Solar Observatory (NSO) over the 2011-2020 decade to ensure that the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) becomes fully operational. ATST operations will require a ramp-up in NSO support to supplement savings that accrue from the planned closing of current solar facilities. • Funding for NOAO facilities should continue at approximately the FY2010 level. • The governance of the international Gemini Observatory should be restructured, in collaboration with all partners, to improve the responsiveness and accountability of the observatory to the goals and concerns of all its national user communities. As part of the restructuring negotiations, the United States should attempt to secure an additional fraction of the Gemini Observatory, including a proportional increase in the U.S. leadership role. The funding allocated for any augmentation in the U.S. share should be at most 10 percent of FY2010 U.S. Gemini spending. The United States should also seek improvements to the efficiency of Gemini operations. Efficiencies from streamlining Gemini operations, possibly achieved through a reforming of the national observatory to include NOAO and Gemini under a single operations team, should be applied to compensate for the loss of the United Kingdom from the Gemini partnership, thereby increasing the U.S. share. The United States should support the development of medium-scale, general-purpose Gemini instrumentation and upgrades at a steady level of about 10 percent of the U.S. share of operations costs. U.S. support for new large Gemini instruments (greater than approximately $20 million) should be competed against proposals for other instruments in the recommended mid- scale instrumentation program—a program aimed at meeting the needs of the overall U.S. OIR system discussed elsewhere in this panel report. • The AST grants program (Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants [AAG]) should be increased above the rate of inflation by approximately $40 million over the decade to enable the community to utilize the scientific capabilities of the new projects and enhanced OIR system. • NSF/AST should work closely with the Office of Polar Programs to explore the potential for exploiting the unique characteristics of the promising Antarctic sites. The above program and the funding recommendations, presented in additional detail in the following sections of the panel’s report, represent a balanced program for U.S. OIR astronomy that is consistent with historical federal funding of astronomy and, more importantly, is poised to enable astronomers to answer the compelling science questions of the decade, as well as to open new windows of discovery. The proposed program involves an increased emphasis on partnerships, including NSF, DOE, NASA, U.S. federal institutions, state and private organizations, and international or foreign institutions. These partnerships not only are required by the scale of the new projects, which are beyond the capacity of any one institution or even one nation to undertake, but also are motivated by the key capabilities that each of the partners brings to ensuring a dynamic scientific program throughout the decade.
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96 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 The revolution in human understanding that began with Galileo’s telescope 400 years ago has not slowed down or lost its momentum—in fact it is accelerating—and the panel believes that it has identified the most promising areas for future investment by the United States in optical and infrared astronomy from the ground. Report of the Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation SUMMARY The fertile scientific ground at the intersection of astrophysics, gravitation, and particle physics addresses some of the most fundamental questions in the physical sciences. For example, the unexplained acceleration of the expand- ing universe leads scientists to question their understanding of cosmology. There may be an as-yet-uncharacterized component to the mass-energy that drives the dynamics of the universe—a cosmological constant or a new type of field—called “dark energy.” Or, gravity may be described not by Einstein’s general theory of relativity but rather by a different theory altogether. Solving these puzzles will require new astrophysical observations. Another unsolved mystery is the origin of the initial conditions at the beginning of the universe, the first density fluctuations that grew into the structures seen today. There is evidence that these initial conditions were set down during the period of inflation in the very early universe. That leaves open the question: What caused inflation? Again, gravity may provide the clue. Measurements of the stochastic background of gravitational waves that formed at the same time as the initial density perturbations provide an important tool that might probe the inflationary period. Connecting physics and astronomy, the initial density perturbations set the stage for structure formation: How and when did the first structures form in the universe? Observations of gravitational waves from black hole mergers at high redshift will provide unique information about this era, complementing other probes. Another puzzle is that of the laws of nature in the environments that harbor the most extreme gravitational fields. Supermassive black holes inhabit the centers of galaxies, and they somehow, following the laws of gravity, generate tremendous outflows of energetic particles and radiation, twisting magnetic fields into concentrated pockets of magnetism. Scientists cannot help but strive to understand these extreme environments and to take advantage of them as laboratories to put gravitation theories to their most demanding tests. Gravitation is a unifying theme in nearly all of today’s most pressing astrophysics issues. Much of the precursor work of the past decade was motivated by the scientific imperative of understanding gravitation, and an intense period of technology development to build the necessary tools is reaching fruition and must now be exploited. Sci- entists now have ground-based laser interferometric detectors that are on a path to reaching the level of sensitivity at which the detection of gravitational waves is virtually assured. They have a plan and a design for a network of spacecraft that will measure long-wavelength gravitational waves where astrophysical sources are predicted to be the most abundant. They have developed high-precision techniques of pulsar observation that are a promising probe of the gravitational waves associated with inflation and with supermassive black holes. Recognizing these develop- ments, the Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation presents a program of gravitational wave astrophysics that will bring the investments in technology to fruition. The panel recommends that the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) be given a new start immediately; that ground-based laser gravitational wave detectors continue their ongoing program of operation, upgrade, and further operation; and that the detection of gravitational waves through the timing of millisecond pulsars move forward. Complementing the use of gravitational waves as a beacon for astrophysics and fundamental physics, the panel recommends that the theoretical foundations of gravity them- selves be put to stringent test, when such tests can be carried out in a cost-effective manner . These tests of gravita- tion will be provided by LISA’s observations of strong field astrophysical systems, by electromagnetic surveys to characterize dark energy (considered by other Astro2010 panels), by the precise monitoring of the dynamics of the Earth-Moon system, and by controlled tests of gravity theories done in the nearly noise-free environment of space. The time has arrived to explore the still-unknown regions of the universe with the new tool of gravitation. Understanding the nature of three-quarters of the universe is an important goal, but the other one-quarter, which is known to be some form of matter, must not be overlooked. Scientists have identified one-sixth of this matter: it is in the form of stars, galaxies, and gas that have been extensively studied for centuries. However, the nature of the other five-sixths is still a mystery. Evidence exists that the unknown part is not made up of familiar materials but rather must be a diffuse substance that interacts only weakly with ordinary matter. The leading candidates for this
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97 Summaries of Major Reports so-called dark matter are new families of particles predicted by some theories of fundamental particle physics. There are three complementary approaches to attacking the dark matter problem: direct detection in the laboratory, indirect detection by way of astronomical observations, and searches for candidate particles in human-made high-energy particle accelerators. The panel’s recommendations concern only indirect detection by astrophysics, although all three approaches will be important in ultimately resolving this mystery. The indirect detection of dark matter involves searching not for the dark matter particles themselves, but rather for products of the annihilation or decay of dark matter particles. These may be gamma rays, cosmic rays, or neutrinos. The sources will be places in the cosmos where scientists believe that dark matter concentrates, such as in the gravitational potential wells of galaxies. Therefore, the panel recommends a program of gamma-ray and particle searches for dark matter. The field of high-energy and very high energy particle astrophysics has blossomed in the past decade with an explosion of results from spaceborne and ground-based gamma-ray telescopes and cosmic-ray detectors, and it is hoped that similar exciting results will come soon from neutrino telescopes. These instruments provide unique views of astronomical sources, exploring the extreme environments that give rise to particle acceleration near, for example, supermassive black holes and compact binary systems. The panel recommends continued involvement in high-energy particle astrophysics, with particular investment in new gamma-ray telescopes that will provide a much deeper and clearer view of the high-energy universe, as well as a better understanding of the astrophysical environ- ment necessary to disentangle the dark matter signatures from natural backgrounds. The panel’s highest priority recommendation for ground-based instrumentation is significant U.S. involvement in a large international telescope array that will exploit the expertise gained in the past decade in atmospheric Cherenkov detection of gamma rays. Such a telescope array is expected to be an order-of-magnitude more sensitive than existing telescopes, and it would for the first time have the sensitivity to detect, in other galaxies, dark matter features predicted by plausible models. The panel also recommends a broad program for particle detectors to be flown above the atmosphere, making use of the cost-effective platforms provided by balloons and small satellites. In progress already are major develop- ments in large ground-based detectors of neutrinos. These programs are an important component of dark matter and astrophysical particle characterization and should be continued, along with the research and development that will improve the sensitivity of neutrino detectors in the decades to come. The above recommendations are possible only because there is now available a suite of new instruments that have recently achieved technical readiness. In the program areas that the panel considered a significant component of the technology development has been done outside the United States. To maintain the nation’s ability to participate in research in astrophysics in the future, the panel recommends that the technology development programs of all three funding agencies relevant to particle astrophysics and gravitation be augmented. To enable missions to test gravitation theories and to carry out timely and cost-effective experiments in particle astrophysics, gravitation, and other areas of astrophysics, the panel recommends an augmentation in NASA’s Explorer program. It is expected that such missions will compete in a forum of peer review. To enable particle detection experiments, the panel recom- mends an augmentation in NASA’s balloon program to support ultra-long-duration ballooning. Finally, on an even more fundamental level, the panel recognizes that the ultimate goal of all of these activities is the advancement of knowledge, for which the culminating activities are the interpretation and dissemination of the results, and which in turn lead to new frameworks for subsequent exploration. Therefore, the panel supports a strong base program in all areas of astronomy and astrophysics. This base program must include theory as one of its components. The program in particle astrophysics and gravitation that this panel recommends includes missions, projects, and activities that will result in new tools for attacking many of the outstanding problems of astronomy and astro- physics, both in this decade and in the future. The recommended program will launch the new discipline of gravi- tational wave astrophysics. It will develop new detectors for cosmic rays, gamma rays, and neutrinos that, working in tandem with gravitational wave and longer wavelength electromagnetic detectors, will enable multi-messenger astrophysics. It will confront gravitation theories with new data, in the context of understanding the strong fields around black holes and the nature of dark energy on cosmological scales. It will seek to identify the elusive dark matter. It will elucidate the remarkable dynamics of black holes and their fields and outflows. All in the astronomy and astrophysics community look forward to the discoveries of the next decade.
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98 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 Report of the Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Astronomy from the Ground SUMMARY Astronomy at radio, millimeter, and submillimeter (RMS) wavelengths is poised for a decade of discoveries. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will be commissioned in 2013, enabling detailed studies of galaxies, star formation, and planet-forming disks, with spectral coverage from 0.3 to 3 mm, at a resolution approaching 4 milli-arcseconds at the shortest wavelengths. Soon, the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) will have an order- of-magnitude more continuum sensitivity than the original Very Large Array (VLA) has, and continuous spectral coverage from 0.6 to 30 cm. The Herschel Space Observatory, with coverage from 60 mm to 670 mm, is delivering catalogs of tens of thousands of new “submillimeter-bright” galaxies. The Green Bank Telescope (GBT) operates over a broad range of centimeter and millimeter frequencies and has the potential for vastly improved mapping speeds with heterodyne and large-format bolometric array cameras. With upgrades, the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) will improve astrometric distances critical to studies of star formation, galactic structure, and cosmology. It is possible that gravitational waves will be detected by timing arrays of pulsars, with the Arecibo Observatory playing a crucial role. The University Radio Observatories (UROs) will produce steady streams of excellent sci- ence, provide training grounds for graduate students, and remain at the cutting edge of science and technological development. The sizes of detector arrays at millimeter and submillimeter (smm) wavelengths and the computational capabilities of digital correlators are both experiencing exponential growth. The foundation for further advances in this field must be laid in this decade. The crucial scientific questions and themes identified today can be answered if the necessary steps are taken to lead to the instruments of tomorrow. RMS projects of modest cost will provide insights into the origins of the first sources of light that reionized the universe and led to the first galaxies. With truly large-format detector arrays on single-dish telescopes, large-scale surveys for galaxies forming stars intensely will inform the origin of the cosmic order observed today. An RMS project will provide insights into fundamental processes on the Sun and use the Sun as a laboratory for understanding the role of magnetic fields in astrophysical plasmas. Upgrades of modest cost to existing RMS facilities may allow the first discovery of gravitational waves and imaging of the event horizon around a black hole. The steps taken during this decade can lead to the next great advance in future decades, a telescope capable of studying the atomic gas flows that feed galaxies back in cosmic time and capable of studying the inner parts of circumstellar disks, where Earth-like planets may be forming. With continued robust support of studies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), RMS science extends from the Sun to recombination and the physics of inflation. The Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Astronomy from the Ground has identified key capabili- ties that are needed to answer the scientific questions posed by the five Astro2010 Science Frontiers Panels (SFPs). By comparing those key capabilities to existing capabilities, the panel identified three new projects for mid-scale funding that will provide critical capabilities. The panel further identified enhancements to existing or imminently available facilities that fulfill other requirements, and this report presents a balanced program with support for small facilities, technology development, laboratory astrophysics, theory, and algorithm development. Priorities and phasing are discussed in the panel report’s final section, “Recommendations.” Those recommendations are summarized here. Recommended New Facilities for Mid-Scale Funding The Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA) will provide unique insight into one of the last remain- ing unknown eras in the history of the universe. The panel recommends continued funding of the two pathfinders (collectively HERA-I) and a review mid-decade to decide whether to build HERA-II. The panel identified specific milestones to be met by HERA-I activities. If those are met, HERA-II is the panel’s top priority in this category of recommended new facilities for mid-scale funding. HERA-I requires about $5 million per year, as is currently spent, and HERA-II is estimated to cost $85 million. The Frequency-Agile Solar Radiotelescope (FASR) will scan the full solar disk conditions in the chromosphere and corona once a second, all day, every day. It is a vital complement to the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) and provides essential ground truth for studies of magnetic fields on other stars. The estimated construction
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99 Summaries of Major Reports cost for the FASR is $100 million, and operations will cost $4 million per year; the panel assumes an even split between the Astronomy Division (AST) in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the NSF Division of Atmospheric and Geophysical Science (AGS) for both the construction and operations costs. The CCAT (formerly Cornell-Caltech Atacama Telescope) will provide the capability for rapid surveys of the submillimeter sky, essential for the optimal exploitation of ALMA. The CCAT is a 25-m-diameter telescope located on a very high, dry site equipped with megapixel detector arrays; the CCAT will address many of the questions posed by the Science Frontiers Panels. The CCAT is estimated to cost $110 million, with $33 million coming from NSF. NSF’s share of operating expenses would be about $7.5 million per year, or a net increase of $5 million per year, assuming that the current funding for the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO) is recycled. The FASR and the CCAT have equal and very high priority in this category, but different phasing. Development of Current and Imminent Activities Studies of the CMB have delivered much of the most valuable information about the universe at large. The panel strongly recommends a continued robust program at the current funding levels of ground-based CMB studies with multiple approaches that are driven by individual investigators. An expansion of the Allen Telescope Array to 256 antennas (ATA-256) would significantly improve astronomers’ ability to find and study transient sources and to detect gravitational waves by timing an array of pulsars. The ATA can test ideas needed for the development of next-generation telescopes such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). The estimated cost of construction for the expansion is about $44 million. The panel recommends that NSF explore collaboration with other agencies and private foundations for the enhancement of ATA-42. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) telescopes (and soon, ALMA) provide a broad range of scientific capabilities needed to answer many of the SFP questions, but all will need instrument development, especially the completion of frequency coverage, multibeam capability, and electronics improvements to enable much higher data rates. The panel recommends a sustained and substantial program to enhance the NRAO telescope and ALMA capabilities, amounting to $90 million for NRAO and $30 million for the U.S. share for ALMA over the decade. The Arecibo telescope is essential for science with pulsars, which test general relativity, constrain the neutron star equation of state, and may lead to the detection of gravitational waves. The telescope can also make the deep- est maps of galactic and extragalactic neutral hydrogen currently possible. A future multi-pixel upgrade would dramatically speed up surveys at centimeter wavelengths. The panel recommends support of Arecibo, enhanced by $2 million per year over projected levels. The UROs provide cost-effective capabilities, testbeds for technology, and training grounds for young scientists. The panel recommends a modest enhancement ($2 million per year) in the budget for the current program, and it recommends that the FASR ($2 million per year, starting in 2015) and the CCAT (net $5 million per year, starting in about 2017) be operated under the URO program. Small Projects To achieve a balanced program, the panel recommends that a range of small and moderate projects be supported through a combination of funding from the Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation (ATI) program at NSF-AST and from NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. Examples of such projects include an enhance- ment of the VLBI’s millimeter-wave capabilities to allow the imaging of the event horizon around a black hole and multifeed receivers for the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA). A program of technology development in a number of areas and a focused program of laboratory astrophysics are both vital needs. Support of theoretical work is crucial to realizing the investment in RMS facilities, as is a program of algo- rithm development. Both of these efforts will allow observations to confront theory, an essential aspect of moving science forward. The panel recommends enhancements to ATI of $1 million per year and a program of laboratory astrophysics at $2 million per year.
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100 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 Looking to the Future The SKA has a remarkable discovery potential, including studies of the epoch of reionization (SKA-low), determination of the gas content of galaxies at z of 1 to 2 (SKA-mid), and studies of the terrestrial planet zones of planet-forming disks (SKA-high). However, substantial technology development is needed to define an affordable instrument. Many of the areas that the panel recommends for technology development will be crucial for this effort. The HERA project provides a development pathway for SKA-low, and the North American Array (NAA) project (part of NRAO development) develops technology for the SKA-high. The panel recommends the continued develop- ment and exploration of options for realizing SKA-mid.
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101 Summaries of Major Reports 5.8 Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey A Report of the BPA and SSB Ad Hoc Panel on Implementing Recommendations from New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey Executive Summary The 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), outlines a scientifically exciting and programmatically integrated plan for both ground- and space-based astronomy and astrophysics in the 2012-2021 decade.1 However, late in the survey process, the budgetary outlook shifted downward considerably from the guidance that NASA had provided to the decadal survey. And since August 2010—when NWNH was released—the projections of funds available for new NASA Astrophysics initiatives has decreased even further because of the recently reported delay in the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2015 and the associated additional costs of at least $1.4 billion. 2 These developments jeopardize the implementation of the carefully designed program of activities proposed in NWNH. In response to these circumstances, NASA has proposed that the United States consider a commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid mission at a level of approximately 20 percent.3 This participation would be undertaken in addition to initiating the planning for the survey’s highest-ranked, space-based, large-scale mission, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requested that the National Research Council (NRC) convene a panel to consider whether NASA’s Euclid proposal is consistent with achieving the priorities, goals, and recommendations, and with pursuing the science strategy, articulated in NWNH. The panel also investigated what impact such participation might have on the prospects for the timely realization of the WFIRST mission and other activities recommended by NWNH in view of the projected budgetary situation.4 The Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey convened its workshop on November 7, 2010, and heard presentations from NASA, ESA, OSTP, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and members of the domestic and foreign astronomy and astrophysics communities. Workshop presentations identified several tradeoffs among options: funding goals less likely versus more likely to be achieved in a time of restricted budgets; narrower versus broader scientific goals; and U.S.-only versus U.S.-ESA collaboration. The panel captured these tradeoffs in considering four primary options.5 Option A: Launch of WFIRST in the Decade 2012-2021 The panel reaffirms the centrality to the overall integrated plan articulated in NWNH of embarking in this decade on the scientifically compelling WFIRST mission. If WFIRST development and launch are significantly delayed beyond what was assumed by NWNH, one of the key considerations that led to this relative ranking is no longer valid. However, until there is greater clarity on how and when WFIRST can be implemented, it is difficult to determine whether the relative priorities of NWNH should be reconsidered. These issues may well require consid- eration by the decadal survey implementation advisory committee (DSIAC) recommended in NWNH.6 NOTE: The “Executive Summary” is reprinted from the prepublication version of Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., pp. 1-2, released on December 10, 2010. 1National Research Council, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics , The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010. 2J. Casani, et al., “James Webb Space Telescope Independent Comprehensive Review Panel: Final Report,” October 29, 2010 (publicly released on November 10, 2010). 3At the November 7, 2010, workshop NASA said that the current participation level on Euclid is planned at 20 percent of the estimated mission development cost (see Appendix B for more information). 4The panel’s statement of task is given in this report’s Preface. Information on the workshop is provided in Appendixes A and B. 5The four options are not ranked in any particular order. 6In NWNH, the recommended DSIAC was charged to “monitor progress toward reaching the goals recommended in [NWNH], and to provide strategic advice to the agencies over the decade of implementation” (p. 1-5).
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102 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 Option B: A Joint WFIRST/Euclid Mission If the budget constraints that have emerged since delivery of the NWNH report are not adequately addressed and a timely WFIRST as originally conceived is not possible (see Option A), one option to accomplish WFIRST’s goals would be a single, international mission, combining WFIRST and ESA’s Euclid. Either a U.S.-led mission or an ESA-led mission could be consistent with the NWNH report, contingent on whether or not the United States plays “a leading role” and “so long as the committee’s recommended science program is preserved and overall cost savings result” (p. 1-6). Therefore, it would be advantageous for NASA, in collaboration with ESA, to study whether such a joint mission is feasible. Waiting to decide on a significant financial commitment to such a partnership, whatever its form, would allow time for such studies and for the DSIAC to be established and provide guidance on this issue. Option C: Commitment by NASA of 20 percent Investment in Euclid prior to the M-class decision A 20 percent investment in Euclid as currently envisioned and as presented by NASA is not consistent with the program, strategy, and intent of the decadal survey. NWNH stated the following if the survey’s budget assumption cannot be realized: “In the event that insufficient funds are available to carry out the recommended program, the first priority is to develop, launch, and operate WFIRST, and to implement the Explorer program and core research program recommended augmentations” (p. 7-40). A 20 percent plan would deplete resources for the timely execu- tion of the broader range of NWNH space-based recommendations and would significantly delay implementing the Explorer augmentation, as well as augmentations to the core activities that were elements in the survey’s recom- mended first tier of activities in a less optimistic budget scenario. A 20 percent contribution would also be a non- negligible fraction of the resources needed for other NWNH priorities. Option D: No U.S. Financing of an Infrared Survey Mission This Decade If neither options A nor B are viable due to budget constraints (or if option A is not viable and option B is not possible due to programmatic difficulties), and option C is rejected, the panel concluded that to be consistent with the overall plan in NWNH, any existing budget wedge could go to other NWNH priorities: the next-ranked large rec - ommendation (augmentation of the Explorer program), technology development for future missions, and the high- priority medium and small recommended activities, possibly with the omission of WFIRST. Although an extremely unfortunate outcome with severely negative consequences for the exciting science program advanced by NWNH, this option seems consistent with NWNH, which did not prioritize between its large, medium, and small recom- mended activities. However, such a major change of plan should first be reviewed by the recommended DSIAC. Providing strategic advice under current conditions is extremely challenging. The question of whether today’s changing conditions fundamentally alter the long-term approach of the decadal survey might understandably be asked. However, the panel emphasizes that the 2010 decadal survey provided integrated advice that was explicitly designed to be robust for the entire decade. The survey anticipated that fiscal and scientific conditions would change. NASA’s rapidly changing budgetary landscape highlights the urgency of establishing a mechanism such as the DSIAC to ensure that appropriate community advice is available to the government. The NWNH recommendations remain scientifically compelling, and this panel believes that the decadal survey process remains the most effective way to provide community consensus to the federal government to assist in its priority setting for U.S. astronomy and astrophysics.
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103 Summaries of Major Reports 5.9 Revitalizing NASA’s Suborbital Program: Advancing Science, Driving Innovation, and Developing a Workforce A Report of the SSB Ad Hoc Committee on NASA’s Suborbital Research Capabilities Executive Summary In the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 (Section 505), the Space Studies Board (SSB) was asked by NASA to conduct a review of the suborbital mission capabilities of NASA. The act expresses the sense of Congress that suborbital flight activities, including the use of sounding rockets, aircraft, and high-altitude balloons, and suborbital reusable launch vehicles, offer valuable opportunities to advance science, train the next generation of scientists and engineers, and provide opportunities for participants in the programs to acquire skills in systems engineering and systems integration that are critical to maintaining the nation’s leadership in space programs. Further, the act finds it in the national interest to expand the size of NASA’s suborbital research program and to consider it for increased funding. STATEMENT OF TASK The Space Studies Board established the ad hoc Committee on NASA’s Suborbital Research Capabilities to assess the current state and potential of NASA’s suborbital research programs and conduct a review of NASA’s capabilities in this area. The scope of the requested review included: • Existing programs that make use of suborbital flights; • The status, capability, and availability of suborbital platforms and the infrastructure and workforce necessary to support them; • Existing or planned launch facilities for suborbital missions; and • Opportunities for scientific research, training, and educational collaboration in the conduct of suborbital mis - sions by NASA, especially as they relate to the findings and recommendations of the National Research Council’s decadal surveys and recent report Building a Better NASA Workforce: Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration (NRC, 2007). The committee was asked to consider airborne platforms broadly and to include the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, although it is not part of the suborbital program per se. RECOMMENDATIONS Through review of reports and technical documents and the distillation of presentations to the committee by NASA staff, research scientists, educators, and outreach specialists, the committee found that suborbital program elements—airborne, balloon, and sounding rockets—play vital and necessary strategic roles in NASA’s research, innovation, education, employee development, and spaceflight mission success, thus providing the foundation for achievement of agency goals. The suborbital program elements enable important discovery science, rapid response to unexpected, episodic phenomena, and a range of specialized capabilities that enable a wide variety of cutting- edge research in areas such as Earth observations, climate, astrophysics, and solar-terrestrial observations, as well as calibration and validation of satellite mission instruments and data. In Earth sciences, in particular, the suborbital program (especially through use of its airborne and balloon capabilities) has enabled studies of chemical and physi- cal processes occurring in the atmosphere, oceans, and land (and at their interfaces) having important socioeconomic and political implications. Knowledge of greenhouse gas forcing and the associated feedbacks within the climate NOTE: “Executive Summary” reprinted from Revitalizing NASA’s Suborbital Program: Advancing Science, Driving Innovation, and Devel - oping a Workforce, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010, pp. 1-3.
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104 Space Studies Board Annual Report—2010 systems has been significantly advanced by an ability to conduct specific and accurate studies with high spatial and temporal resolution (often referred to as process-scale investigations). Arctic sea ice loss, changes in Earth’s albedo, trace gas emissions from various ocean and land ecosystems, the interplay between changes in atmospheric compo- sition (including stratospheric ozone loss) and atmospheric radiative forcing (i.e., climate change), and changes in severe storms and in atmospheric dynamics are but a few areas of investigation significantly impacted by suborbital capabilities. The suborbital program elements provide essential technical innovation and risk mitigations that ben- efit spaceflight missions through development and demonstration of technology and instruments that later fly on NASA spacecraft. The suborbital elements provide effective, hands-on, engineering and management experience that transfers readily to NASA spaceflight projects. These frequent opportunities, which provide for cradle-to-grave hands-on mission experiences and training for students, researchers, principal investigators, project managers, and engineers, are vital to future space endeavors. The committee decided not to include documentation of the evolution of the funding of the suborbital pro- gram because changes over time in NASA’s complex accounting procedures make it extremely difficult to obtain meaningful trends. Nonetheless, as currently implemented by NASA, suborbital elements and facilities are insuf- ficiently funded and hence not fully or effectively used. There is inadequate support for payload construction and for the development of key technologies, such as detectors, lightweight optics, and so on. The suborbital elements are dependent on reimbursable funding; inadequate research and analysis funding has led to such a decrease in the number of flights that the program is jeopardized. The following provides the committee’s integrated recommendations that cut across all suborbital elements. Chapter 8 provides a detailed listing of the overarching findings and recommendations, with additional details provided in Chapters 2 through 7. Recommendation 1: NASA should undertake the restoration of the suborbital program as a foundation for meeting its mission responsibilities, workforce requirements, instrumentation development needs, and anticipated capability requirements. To do so, NASA should reorder its priorities to increase funding for suborbital programs. Recommendation 2: NASA should assign a program lead to the staff of the associate administrator for the S cience Mission Directorate to coordinate the suborbital program. This lead would be responsible for the devel p ent of short- and long-term strategic plans for maintaining, renewing, and extending sub- om orbital facilities and capabilities. Further, the lead would monitor progress toward strategic objectives and advocate for enhanced suborbital activities, workforce development, and integration of suborbital activities within NASA. Recommendation 3: To increase the number of space scientists, engineers, and system engineers with hands-on training, NASA should use the suborbital program elements as an integral part of on-the-job train- ing and career development for engineers, experimental scientists, systems engineers, and project managers. Recommendation 4: NASA should make essential investments in stabilizing and advancing the capabilities in each of the suborbital program elements, including the development of ultralong-duration super-pressure balloons with the capability to carry 2 to 3 tons of payload to 130,000 feet, the execution of a thorough conceptual study of a short-duration orbital capability for sounding rockets, and modernization of the core sub rbital airborne fleet. (The committee notes that it was not asked to prioritize the different ele- o ments of the suborbital program, but such a prioritization should be an integral part of implementing this recommendation.) Recommendation 5: NASA should continue to monitor commercial suborbital space developments. Given that the commercial developers stated to the committee that they do not need NASA funding to meet their business objectives, this entrepreneurial approach offers the potential for a range of opportunities for low- cost quick access to space that may benefit NASA as well as other federal agencies.