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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Extending Science: NASA's Space Science Mission Extensions and the Senior Review Process. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23624.
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A

Statement of Task

The NRC will appoint an ad hoc committee to conduct an assessment of the scientific value of extended missions in the overall program of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The committee’s report will provide recommended guidelines for future NASA decision-making about such mission extensions. In conducting this study, the committee could address the following questions:

  1. Historically, what have been the scientific benefits of mission extensions? How important are these benefits (for example, benefits that might only accrue during the extended mission phase but not earlier)?
  2. What is the current SMD Senior Review process for extending missions—for example, how are reviews chartered and conducted, by whom, and using what criteria? What should be division dependent and what should be uniform across the Directorate?
  3. The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 requires biennial Senior Reviews for each mission extension. Is this biennial time period optimal for all divisions? Would a longer or shorter time period between reviews be advantageous in some cases?
  4. Does the balance currently struck between starting new missions and extending operating missions provide the best science return within NASA’s budget? That is, how much of an acceleration of new mission initiation could realistically be achieved by reallocating resources from mission extensions to new programs, compared to the corresponding scientific loss from terminated or diminished mission extensions?
  5. Are there innovative cost reduction approaches that could increase the science cost-effectiveness of extended missions? Are there any general principles that might be applied across the board or to all of the missions for an individual science theme or a particular class? Are there alternative mission management approaches (e.g., transfer to an outside technical or educational institution for training or other purposes) that could reduce mission costs during extended operations and continue to serve SMD’s science objectives?
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Extending Science: NASA's Space Science Mission Extensions and the Senior Review Process. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23624.
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Page 63
Next: Appendix B: Scientific Discoveries of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Opportunity Rover During Extended Phase »
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NASA operates a large number of space science missions, approximately three-quarters of which are currently in their extended operations phase. They represent not only a majority of operational space science missions, but a substantial national investment and vital national assets. They are tremendously scientifically productive, making many of the major discoveries that are reported in the media and that rewrite textbooks.

Extending Science – NASA’s Space Science Mission Extensions and the Senior Review Process evaluates the scientific benefits of missions extensions, the current process for extending missions, the current biennial requirement for senior reviews of mission extensions, the balance between starting new missions and extending operating missions, and potential innovative cost-reduction proposals for extended missions, and makes recommendations based on this review.

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