The Space Science
Lessons Learned and Best Practices
Committee on Survey of Surveys: Lessons Learned from the Decadal Survey Process
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
This study is based on work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Contract NNH11CD57B. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-37735-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-37735-8
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2015. The Space Science Decadal Surveys: Lessons Learned and Best Practices. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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OTHER RECENT REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD
Sharing the Adventure with the Student: Exploring the Intersections of NASA Space Science and Education: A Workshop Summary (Space Studies Board [SSB], 2015)
Evaluation of the Implementation of WFIRST/AFTA in the Context of New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (Board on Physics and Astronomy [BPA] with the SSB, 2014)
Opportunities for High-Power, High-Frequency Transmitters to Advance Ionospheric/Thermospheric Research: Report of a Workshop (SSB, 2014)
Pathways to Exploration: Rationales and Approaches for a U.S. Program of Human Space Exploration (Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB] with SSB, 2014)
Landsat and Beyond: Sustaining and Enhancing the Nation’s Land Imaging Program (SSB, 2013)
Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science: Summary of a Workshop (SSB, 2013)
Review of the Draft 2014 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan (SSB, 2013)
Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society (SSB, 2013)
Assessment of a Plan for U.S. Participation in Euclid (BPA with SSB, 2012)
Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies (SSB, 2012)
Earth Science and Applications from Space: A Midterm Assessment of NASA’s Implementation of the Decadal Survey (SSB, 2012)
The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate: A Workshop Report (SSB, 2012)
NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus (Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, 2012)
Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey (BPA and SSB, 2012)
Technical Evaluation of the NASA Model for Cancer Risk to Astronauts Due to Space Radiation (SSB, 2012)
Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Collaboration on Space and Earth Science Missions (SSB, 2011)
An Assessment of the Science Proposed for the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) (BPA, 2011)
Panel Reports—New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (BPA and SSB, 2011)
Recapturing a Future for Space Exploration: Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era (SSB and ASEB, 2011)
Sharing the Adventure with the Public—The Value and Excitement of “Grand Questions” of Space Science and Exploration: Summary of a Workshop (SSB, 2011)
Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (SSB, 2011)
Capabilities for the Future: An Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research (Laboratory Assessments Board with SSB and ASEB, 2010)
Controlling Cost Growth of NASA Earth and Space Science Missions (SSB, 2010)
Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report (SSB with ASEB, 2010)
An Enabling Foundation for NASA’s Space and Earth Science Missions (SSB, 2010)
Forging the Future of Space Science: The Next 50 Years (SSB, 2010)
Life and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era of Space Exploration: An Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2010)
New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (BPA and SSB, 2010)
Revitalizing NASA’s Suborbital Program: Advancing Science, Driving Innovation, and Developing a Workforce (SSB, 2010)
Limited copies of SSB reports are available free of charge from:
Space Studies Board
Keck Center of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001
COMMITTEE ON SURVEY OF SURVEYS: LESSONS LEARNED
FROM THE DECADAL SURVEY PROCESS
ALAN DRESSLER, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Chair
DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado, Boulder
DAVID A. BEARDEN, The Aerospace Corporation
ROGER D. BLANDFORD, Stanford University
STACEY W. BOLAND, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
WENDY M. CALVIN, University of Nevada, Reno
ATHENA COUSTENIS, National Centre for Scientific Research of France
J. TODD HOEKSEMA, Stanford University
ANTHONY C. JANETOS, Boston University
STEPHEN J. MACKWELL, Lunar and Planetary Institute
J. DOUGLAS McCUISTION, X-energy, LLC
NORMAN H. SLEEP, Stanford University
CHARLES E. WOODWARD, University of Minnesota
A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired)
DAVID H. SMITH, Senior Program Officer, Study Director
DIONNA J. WILLIAMS, Program Coordinator
KATIE E. DAUD, Research Associate
ANGELA M. DAPREMONT, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Space Studies Board
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
DAVID N. SPERGEL, Princeton University, Chair
ROBERT D. BRAUN, Georgia Institute of Technology, Vice Chair
MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University
JAMES G. ANDERSON, Harvard University
JAMES P. BAGIAN, University of Michigan
JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant, Round Hill, Virginia
PENELOPE J. BOSTON, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation
THOMAS R. GAVIN, California Institute of Technology
NEIL GEHRELS, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research
RODERICK HEELIS, University of Texas, Dallas
WESLEY HUNTRESS, Carnegie Institution of Washington
ANTHONY C. JANETOS, Boston University
SAUL PERLMUTTER, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
LOUISE M. PROCKTER, Johns Hopkins University
MARCIA J. RIEKE, University of Arizona
MARK THIEMENS, University of California, San Diego
MEENAKSHI WADHWA, Arizona State University
CLIFFORD M. WILL, University of Florida
THOMAS H. ZURBUCHEN, University of Michigan
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director
CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator
TANJA E. PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
MEG A. KNEMEYER, Financial Officer
SANDRA WILSON, Senior Financial Assistant
The National Research Council (NRC) has conducted 11 decadal surveys in the Earth and space sciences since 1964 and released the latest four surveys in the past 8 years. The concept for a “survey of the surveys” arose because each of the recent decadal studies met unforeseen challenges in its implementation, suggesting that a closer look at the decadal survey process is necessary so that this essential tool for strategic planning in the Earth and space sciences might be improved. As the first phase of this examination, the Space Studies Board hosted the November 12-13, 2012, workshop “Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science.” This event brought together a variety of major stakeholders in the space- and Earth-science communities who are impacted by and/or responsible for the formulation and implementation of the decadal surveys. A summary of the discussions during this workshop appear in the 2013 report Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science: Summary of a Workshop.1
While many useful ideas, lessons learned, and suggestions for improving the decadal survey process surfaced during the November 2012 workshop, NRC workshop summaries contain no formal consensus conclusions or recommendations. In addition, summary reports do not contain any discussion or analysis beyond what was actually said by the workshop participants. These limitations prompted the Space Studies Board to propose a second phase to its examination of decadal survey process, leading to the drafting of this consensus report.
Phase two was initiated on February 6, 2014, when John M. Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD), requested that the Space Studies Board initiate a formal study of the decadal survey process (see Appendix C). Discussions between NASA and the NRC concerning the scope of the requested activity led to the adoption of the following statement of task:
The NRC will convene an ad hoc committee to consider lessons learned from the most recent NRC decadal surveys in space science. Primary attention should be devoted to the most recent surveys—i.e., solar and space physics (2012), planetary science (2011), astronomy and astrophysics (2010), and Earth science and applications from space (2007)—but important lessons derived from earlier surveys may be noted. The study will also review and consider the first round of NRC mid-decade assessment reports in astronomy and astrophysics (2007), planetary science (2007), solar and space physics (2009), and Earth science and applications from space (2012). The issues identified during the NRC workshop Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science held in November 2012 will be a major input to the committee’s deliberations.
1 National Research Council, Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science: Summary of a Workshop, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2013.
The committee will formulate a set major lessons learned from the recent decadal survey planning process and present a set of options for possible evolutionary changes and improvements to this process, including the statement of task, advanced preparation, organization, and execution.
The proposed study aims to provide a foundation for strengthening future surveys by analyzing and integrating findings in the sources above to address, in particular, the following issues:
• The committee will identify best practices for a well-structured statement of task that will result in a report that reflects the consensus of the authoring community, meets short-term needs of the sponsoring agencies, and addresses the interests of other important constituencies, all while remaining relevant in the face of technology and science advancements, budget evolution, and international cooperation opportunities over the decade (and the following decade, for the largest projects). This analysis should recognize the primacy of science goals over implementing missions. The committee should consider, in particular, the pros and cons of a two-phase decadal survey process that results in a science prioritization report first and then, after a period of community interaction with NASA and mission formulation, a separate implementation prioritization report; and
• While not offering any recommendations to change them, the committee will examine the impacts of the procedures and policies of the NRC (regarding the confidentiality of committee deliberations) and of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (regarding the embargo of pre-release budget formulation) on the operation of decadal survey studies. The committee will consider how to mitigate the impact of these conditions (the so-called “blackout problem”) and, in particular, the impacts of the fact that during critical phases of survey recommendations development, sponsors often cannot share budget (and budget-related planning) information due to the OMB’s embargos on releasing information on the President’s budget request, and the survey committee cannot share details of its ongoing deliberations with the sponsors.
An important consideration for the 2012 workshop and for the study described above is that both were initiated at the requested of, and solely funded by, NASA SMD. Moreover, SMD was the only common sponsor of the four decadal surveys that formed the centerpiece of the workshop’s discussions and upon which the deliberations of this follow-on study would focus. Although representatives from all relevant agencies and organizations were invited to participate in the 2012 workshop, few were able to attend. As a result, the workshop’s discussions focused primarily on issues relevant to and/or expressed by representatives from SMD. Thus, although this study considers all relevant agencies, the close alignment between the activities identified in the statement of task and issues discussed during the workshop resulted in a follow-on study focused more on NASA’s use of the decadal process. Nevertheless, the committee considers the interests of other agencies in decadal surveys, particularly the strong participation of the National Science Foundation (NSF), in appropriate sections of the report.
The Committee on Survey of Surveys: Lessons Learned from the Decadal Survey Process was established in March 2014 and held its first meeting on June 23-24 at the National Academies’ Keck Center in Washington, D.C. Additional presentations and discussions were heard during an August 14 teleconference, at an August 25-27 meeting in Washington, D.C., and during an October 16 teleconference. The committee’s final meeting was held on December 8-10 at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies in Irvine, California. A complete draft of the committee’s report was assembled in February 2015 and sent to external reviewers in early March. Twelve sets of reviewer comments were received in early April, and a revised draft of the report responsive to these comments was completed in late May.
The work of the committee was made easier thanks to the important help, advice, and comments provided by numerous individuals from a variety of public and private organizations. These include the following: Marc Allen (NASA/SMD), Steve Battel (Battel Engineering), Richard Behnke (NSF/Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences), Mike Freilich (NASA/SMD/Earth Sciences), James Green (NASA/SMD/Planetary Sciences), Tom Hammond (House Science, Space and Technology Committee), Paul Hertz (NASA/SMD/Astrophysics), Grace Hu (OMB), Jeffery Newmark (NASA/SMD/Heliophysics), Joel Parriott (American Astronomical Society), Ellen Stofan (NASA Headquarters), and James Ulvestad (NSF/Astronomical Sciences).
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the Academies in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity,
evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
The committee wishes to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:
Joseph Alexander, Consultant, Oro Valley, Arizona,
Jeff M. Bingham, U.S. Senate (retired),
Antonio J. Busalacchi, Jr., University of Maryland,
Jill P. Dahlburg, Naval Research Laboratory,
Stephen A. Fuselier, Southwest Research Institute,
Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center,
Sarah Gibson, National Center for Atmospheric Research,
James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University,
Kristina B. Katsaros, University of Miami,
Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Princeton University (emeritus),
Louise M. Prockter, Johns Hopkins University, and
Graeme L. Stephens, California Institute of Technology.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by George Paulikas, Aerospace Corporation (retired), and Christopher McKee, University of California, Berkeley, who were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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