Assessment of the National Science
Foundation’s 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review
Committee on Assessment of the National Science Foundation’s
2015 Geospace Portfolio Review
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
A Report of
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This study is based on work supported by Contract AGI-1551518 with the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
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Digital Object Identifier: 10.17226/24666
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Suggested Citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Assessment of the National Science Foundation’s 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:10.17226/24666.
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COMMITTEE ON ASSESSMENT OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION’S 2015 GEOSPACE PORTFOLIO REVIEW
TIMOTHY S. BASTIAN, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Chair
SUSAN K. AVERY, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Vice Chair
MARCEL AGÜEROS, Columbia University
PETER M. BANKS, NAE,1 Visual Communications, Inc., and Liberty Plugins, Inc.
GEORGE GLOECKLER, NAS,2 University of Maryland
J. TODD HOEKSEMA, Stanford University
JUSTIN C. KASPER, University of Michigan
KRISTINA A. LYNCH, Dartmouth College
TERRANCE G. ONSAGER, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
AARON RIDLEY, University of Michigan
NATHAN A. SCHWADRON, University of New Hampshire
MARIA SPASOJEVIC, Stanford University
ABIGAIL A. SHEFFER, Program Officer, Study Director
ANESIA WILKS, Senior Program Assistant
CHARLES HARRIS, Research Associate (through August 2016)
CHERIE ACHILLES, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
CAROLINE JUANG, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director, Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board
1 National Academy of Engineering.
2 National Academy of Sciences.
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
FIONA HARRISON, NAS, California Institute of Technology, Chair
ROBERT D. BRAUN, NAE, University of Colorado, Boulder, Vice Chair
DAVID N. SPERGEL, NAS, Princeton University and Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Simons Foundation, Vice Chair
JAMES G. ANDERSON, NAS, Harvard University
JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant
JAY C. BUCKEY, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates, Inc.
JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation
THOMAS R. GAVIN, California Institute of Technology
NEIL GEHRELS,1 NAS, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research
WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, JR., Carnegie Institution of Washington (retired)
ANTHONY C. JANETOS, Boston University
CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University
DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles
ROSALY M.C. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University
LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory
SAUL PERLMUTTER, NAS, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
ELIOT QUATAERT, University of California, Berkeley
BARBARA SHERWOOD LOLLAR, University of Toronto
HARLAN E. SPENCE, University of New Hampshire
MARK THIEMENS, NAS, University of California, San Diego
MEENAKSHI WADHWA, Arizona State University
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director
CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator
TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
MARGARET KNEMEYER, Financial Officer
SU LIU, Financial Assistant
1 Deceased on February 6, 2017.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) conducted a portfolio review for the facilities, science programs, and other activities of the Geospace Section (GS) of the Directorate for Geosciences’ Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. This review was carried out in 2015 by a 14-member Portfolio Review Committee (PRC), organized by NSF under its Advisory Committee for Geosciences. This review was, in part, a response by NSF to the recommendations highlighted for the geospace scientific community in the 2013 National Research Council (NRC) decadal survey Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society1 and the challenge of implementing those recommendations in a highly constrained fiscal environment. The resulting report, Investments in Critical Capabilities for Geospace Science 2016 to 2025 (hereafter, “ICCGS”), was submitted to the Advisory Committee for Geosciences on February 5, 2016, and was released to the public on April 14, 2016.
NSF asked the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine2 to provide an independent assessment of the portfolio review report. The ad hoc Committee on the Assessment of the National Science Foundation’s 2015 Geospace Portfolio Review (hereafter, “the assessment committee” or “the committee”), comprised of members and supported by staff that were fully independent of the PRC, was formed in January 2016 and began its work in April 2016, following the public release of ICCGS. The assessment committee held three face-to-face meetings—May 13-14 and July 18-19, in Washington, D.C., and August 22-23 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts—and biweekly teleconferences. During the May meeting, the committee had discussions with members of the PRC, the Geospace Section Head, and several of the Geospace program directors. At the July meeting, the committee held follow-up discussions with the PRC chair, heard perspectives on the review from the Director of the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences, and was briefed on the recently released report of the National Academies regarding the science potential for CubeSats, Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box.3 The committee also heard from selected members of the geospace science community with experience and perspective relevant to geospace facilities and programs. The objective of the third meeting was to prepare a first draft of this report.
1 National Research Council (NRC), 2013, Solar and Space Physics: A Science for a Technological Society, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
2 Effective July 1, 2015, the institution is called the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. References in this report to the National Research Council are used in an historical context identifying programs prior to July 1.
3 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016, Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
The assessment of the ICCGS requested by NSF is consistent with the responsibilities of the National Academies and the SSB to review and comment on government agency implementation actions and plans in response to the decadal survey recommendations. The assessment is not meant to second guess the recommendations of the report, or to suggest alternative recommendations, but to assess the process used to establish and prioritize its recommendations and to place them in a broader context. The assessment committee therefore chose not to comment on each of the many findings and recommendations presented in the report. Instead, the committee primarily focused on broader implications raised by the ICCGS recommendations and their implementation. The assessment report discussed some issues regarding large facilities in more detail than other parts of the GS portfolio, because ICCGS’s recommended changes to facilities would result in the largest budgetary changes.
The committee would like to thank the members of the PRC for their generous time spent in discussions as the committee sought to understand the processes behind their report. Thanks are also due to the NSF Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences Division Director and the Geospace Section Head and other representatives who were generous both with their time and their insights. Finally, the committee thanks the members of the geospace science community and representatives of geospace facilities for informative discussion and for their responsiveness to requests for information.
The committee notes with great sadness the passing of committee member Dr. Maha Ashour-Abdalla on May 1, 2016, and regrets not having had the pleasure of working with her during the course of this assessment.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution 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. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
M. Joan Alexander, NorthWest Research Associates,
Daniel Eisenstein, NAS,1 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics,
Lennard A. Fisk, NAS, University of Michigan,
Jason Jackiewicz, New Mexico State University,
Janet G. Luhmann, University of California, Berkeley,
Jens Oberheide, Clemson University, and
Larry Paxton, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory.
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 the report was overseen by Marcia J. Rieke, University of Arizona, who was 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 the report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
1 National Academy of Sciences.
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