Space Studies Board
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
The Space Studies Board is a unit of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Medicine work together as the National Academies to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. The National Academies also encourage education and research, recognize outstanding contributions to knowledge, and increase public understanding in matters of science, engineering, and medicine.
Support for the work of the Space Studies Board and its committees in 2016 was provided by National Aeronautics and Space Administration contracts NNH10CC48B, NNH11CD57B, NNH16CE01B, and NNH17CB02B; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Contract WC133R-11-CQ-0048; National Science Foundation Grants AST-1535742 and AGS-1551518; U.S. Geological Survey Grant G15AP00107; Department of Energy Grant DE-SC0014211; Lockheed Martin; and the Heising-Simons 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.
Cover: A solar collage of wavelengths. This collage of solar images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows how observations of the Sun in different wavelengths helps highlight different aspects of the Sun’s surface and atmosphere. The collage also includes images from other SDO instruments that display magnetic and Doppler information. Credit: National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Solar Dynamics Observatory/Goddard Space Flight Center.
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226.24748.
2016 was a productive year for the Space Studies Board (SSB). The work of the panels and steering committee for the new decadal survey for Earth science and applications from space got under way in earnest, and we also completed a mid-decadal review for the New Worlds, New Horizons survey for astronomy and astrophysics. The SSB’s most important role is providing long-term strategic advice to NASA and other agencies interested in space science, exploration and space applications. While government priorities may change, the fundamental scientific questions remain. SSB reports have also explored the implementation of these goals with this year’s studies looking at the role of missions in extended operations (Extending Science: NASA’s Space Science Mission Extensions and the Senior Review Process) and the unique role of large strategic NASA missions in a balanced portfolio (Committee on Large Strategic NASA Science Missions: Science Value and Role in a Balanced Portfolio).
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine also convenes workshops and other forums to focus on compelling scientific issues. One of the enduring questions of space science is “Are We Alone?” Our well-attended December workshop, “Searching for Life Across Space and Time,” asked, “What is our current understanding of the limits of life and life’s interactions with the environments of planets and moons? Are we today positioned to design, build, and conduct experiments or observations capable of life detection remotely or in situ in our own solar system and from afar on extrasolar worlds? How could targeted research help advance the state of the art for life detection, including instrumentation and precursor research, to successfully address these challenges?” Our upcoming workshop proceedings will summarize the discussions that took place at the December event.
Another role of the National Academies is to build bridges to other scientific communities. The “Forum for New Leaders in Space Science” is a model program that brings together early-career space scientists from China and the United States with a goal of building inter-personal connections that will enable future space science collaborations between the world’s two largest economies. The forum held two meetings in 2016, one in Irvine, California, in May focused on Earth science and one in Beijing in December focused on biological/biomedical research in the space environment.
In the coming year, the SSB standing committees—now rechartered as discipline committees—will be able to more directly advise the federal government. I served on one of those committees some years ago—the Com-
mittee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA)—when the committee was able to write letter reports that provided recommendations and findings in a timely fashion to the program managers at NASA and the National Science Foundation. After a rechartering of the four space science standing committees by the National Academies at the request of NASA, these committees will be able issue short reports on the implementation of decadal survey recommendations and, therefore, be more responsive to requests for assistance from NASA and elsewhere. I believe that this will be very beneficial, particularly in the coming years as the new administration looks to modify the direction of NASA and other agencies.
This annual report is my last as SSB chair. I am pleased that Fiona Harrison will assume leadership of the SSB, and I am confident that she and the Board will provide the federal government with valuable advice during this period of transition in Washington.
David N. Spergel
Space Studies Board
Space Studies Board Chairs and Vice Chairs
SPACE STUDIES BOARD CHAIRS
Lloyd V. Berkner (deceased), 1958–1962
Harry H. Hess (deceased), 1962–1969
Charles H. Townes (deceased), 1970–1973
Richard M. Goody, 1974–1976
A.G.W. Cameron (deceased), 1977–1981
Thomas M. Donahue (deceased), 1982–1988
Louis J. Lanzerotti, 1989–1994
Claude R. Canizares, 1994–2000
John H. McElroy (deceased), 2000–2003
Lennard A. Fisk, 2003–2008
Charles F. Kennel, 2008–2014
David N. Spergel, 2014–2016
Fiona A. Harrison 2017–present
SPACE STUDIES BOARD VICE CHAIRS
George A. Paulikas, 2003–2006
A. Thomas Young, 2006–2010
John M. Klineberg, 2011–2014
Robert D. Braun, 2014–present
David N. Spergel, 2016–present
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Dedicated to the Memory of
|Patti Grace Smith (1947-2016) a respected friend and colleague who served as Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board Vice Chair from 2014 until her death|
|Molly K. Macauley (1957-2016) a respected friend and colleague who served as a member of the Space Studies Board from 2007-2013, and as a member of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board from 2004-2007|
|Neil Gehrels (1952-2017) a respected friend and colleague who was appointed to the National Academy of Sciences in 2010 and who served as a member of the Space Studies Board from 2013 until his death|