Task group finding. NASA budget and expenditure records did not allow the task group to determine whether equivalent funds for the new DA demands on R&DA programs were actually transferred with the tasks. The data do show (see Table 4.1, Chapter 4) that the fraction of R&A funding relative to NASA's science-related budget has decreased by approximately 35 percent over the past 8 years at the same time that MO&DA funding as a fraction of the total science budget fell about 30 percent. It is also clear that, although R&A has become a smaller fraction of the science enterprise, it has assumed roles that were once part of flight projects (see Chapter 3). These observations are consistent with scientists' sense of ''shrinking" research dollars.

Perception Of Excessive Concentration Of R&DA Activities In NASA Field Centers And At The Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The external science community is concerned that a disproportionate fraction of R&DA research resides in the field centers and that the trend is toward increasing this fraction. Many scientists argue that field centers have a history of pulling work that was once in universities into the centers. The NRC report Managing the Space Sciences notes that field centers should maintain highly qualified, practicing scientists, but only insofar as the research these scientists conduct relates to the programs and projects the scientists are responsible for supporting. 2 However, some members of the external science community argue that prototype instruments, once the domain of universities and industry, are now thought to be developed disproportionately in field centers or at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as "facility" instruments or as investments to capture future flight opportunities.

Despite the current emphasis on missions led by principal investigators (PIs), members of the science community note that it is very difficult for universities to acquire and maintain capabilities to build flight instruments. Moreover, some members note that instrument development teams and instrument design skills therefore cannot be maintained at universities without sufficient infrastructure, opportunities, and resources to build them. The university role in flight hardware development is important for the creation of new and innovative technologies and sensors and for the training of young scientists and engineers. For example, the value of developing these technologies within universities is recognized by the National Science Foundation through its instrument development postdoctoral program.

Task group finding. About 40 percent of NASA basic research (see Table 4.2) is performed in NASA field centers and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and some fraction of the 30 percent of NASA basic research funds that go to industry likely is used for contractor support of field center research.

Perception About Opportunities In Universities For Instrument And Technology Development To Support Smaller And Shorter-Duration Missions

The NRC report Managing the Space Sciences describes the role of NASA field centers in managing complex missions. Scientists from the community at large value field center assistance with, for example, mission design, ground systems for mission operations, and facilities for integration and test of


 National Research Council, Space Studies Board, Managing the Space Sciences, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 44.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement