In 2016, the Space Studies Board (SSB) held two forums and one workshop and held observer status on a steering group for a European initiative. These activities do not result in the provision of advice and, therefore, are not governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Section 15.
The SSB continued its engagement with space scientists affiliated with the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and other Chinese institutions via the “Forum for New Leaders in Space Science.” The forum series is designed to provide opportunities for a highly select group of young space scientists from China and the United States to discuss their research activities in an intimate and collegial environment. Each cohort attends two forums, one in China, and one in the United States. The first cohort of young scientists participated in the first and second forums, held in Beijing, China, and Irvine, California, in May and November of 2014, respectively.
The second cohort held their first meeting (forum three) in Shanghai on October 9-10, 2015, and their second meeting (forum four) at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in Irvine, California, on May 16-17, 2016. Scientific discussions in Shanghai and Irvine focused on planetary science and Earth observations from space.
Thanks to an infusion of new funds from the Presidents Fund of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the third cohort of participants, a group of 16 early career scientists representing the life- and physical-science research communities, were recruited in August. Also selected in August were the two senior U.S. scientists—James Pawelczyk (Pennsylvania State University) and Peter Voorhees (Northwestern University).
The third cohort held their first meeting (forum five) at the NSSC in Beijing on December 2-3, 2016, and is scheduled to meet again (forum six) at the National Academy of Sciences J. Erik Jonsson Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, on May 16-17, 2017.
SSB and CAS staff have outlined tentative plans to recruit a fourth cohort of young U.S. and Chinese scientists representing the astrophysics and heliophysics communities in mid-to-late-2017. If sufficient funds can be raised to support this fourth cohort, a forum will be held in China, in January 2018, and in California, immediately prior to the July 2018 COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Pasadena. Additional details concerning this activity can be found at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/SSB_086017.
New Leaders in Space Science—Third and Fourth Forums
Michael Busch, SETI Institute
Abigail Fraeman, California Institute of Technology
Rebecca Greenberger, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Wenbiao Han, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Jun Huang, China University of Geosciences
Edwin Kite, University of Chicago
Han Li,* National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Hao Liu, National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Orenthal J. Tucker, University of Michigan
Meng Su, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ying Sun, University of Texas
Xiaobin Yin, National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Jindong Wang. National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Ryan Clegg-Watkins, Washington University
Tianjie Zhao, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Qin Zhou, National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Senior Participants—Third and Fourth Forums
Robert Braun,** Georgia Institute of Technology
Philip Christensen, Arizona State University
Chengli Huang,* Shanghai Astronomical Observatory
Charles F. Kennel,** Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Soroosh Sorooshian,** University of California, Irvine
Byron Tapley, University of Texas
Feng Tian, Tsingua University
Jiancheng Shi, Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Ji Wu, National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Peng Zhang,* National Satellite Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration
New Leaders in Space Science—Fifth Forum
Allison Anderson, Dartmouth College
Richard J. Barker, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Xi Chen, Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Torin K. Clark, University of Colorado, Boulder
Kristopher G. Klein, University of Michigan
Xiaohua Lei, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Ting Li, California Institute of Technology
Fangwu Liu, Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Eric Schultz, University of Florida
Heather D. Smith, NASA Ames Research Center
Wei Wang, Dalian Maritime University
Peipei Xu, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Shenghua Xu, Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Bo Zhang, Hefei University of Technology
Lei Zhao, Dalian Maritime University
Mingqi Zhou, University of Florida
* Participated in third forum only.
** Participated in fourth forum only.
Senior Participants—Fifth Forum
Mian Long, Institute of Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Mingxiang Pan, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences
James Pawelczyk, Pennsylvania State University
Peter Voorhees, Northwestern University
Ji Wu, National Space Science Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences
David Smith, Senior Program Officer, SSB
Anesia Wilks, Senior Program Assistant, SSB
Planetary Protection of the Outer Solar System (PPOSS) is a 3-year effort, funded via the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program and organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF), to address a series of closely related topics in the general area of planetary protection for the icy bodies of the outer solar system. Although it is not a formal participant in this activity, the SSB has observer status on the PPOSS steering group. The project was formally initiated in January 2016, and its steering group met for the first time at the Paris headquarters of EuroSpace on March 25, 2016. Specific tasks included with PPOSS include the creation and hosting of a planetary protection website, the drafting of a textbook describing planetary-protection best practices, the construction of a roadmap of planetary-protection technologies, a series of education and training seminars on planetary protection, and discussion and deliberations on planetary protection issues for the icy bodies of the outer solar system. PPOSS had scheduled a workshop on the margins of the COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 31. However, given the cancellation of the COSPAR Assembly, the workshop was rescheduled and held at ESA ESTEC, Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on September 19. The ESTEC meeting was the first devoted to the task of drafting a textbook outlining best practices in addressing the implementation of current planetary protection policies. Work on this project continued at a meeting held at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne on December 14-15, 2016. Work on the next major PPOSS activity—a document identifying current scientific and technical research issues relating to planetary protection for objects in the outer solar system—will commence at a pair of back-to-back meeting scheduled to take place at DLR on January 23-27, 2017.
In addition to its observer status of the PPOSS steering group, the SSB has agreed, with NASA’s concurrence, to sponsor the participation of two U.S. experts in activities associated with January meeting at DLR and follow-on efforts. To this end, ESF selected Geoffrey Collins (Wheaton College) and Mark Saunders (NASA Langley Research Center, retired) as their preferred participants from a list of candidates drafted by SSB staff. Additional U.S. experts will also participate and are being directly supported by PPOSS. Both Dr. Collins and Mr. Saunders are participating in their own recognizance as scientific and technical experts, and their work and that of PPOSS is not endorsed by the SSB or the National Academies. Additional information about PPOSS can be found at http://pposs.org/.
NASA requested that the SSB organize the workshop “Searching for Life Across Space and Time” to address issues relating to the detection of extinct and extant life elsewhere in the solar system and in extrasolar planetary systems. The planning committee for the workshop met virtually via conference calls during the summer and held its one and only in-person meeting at the National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington, D.C., on September 27-28, 2016. During the September meeting, the planning committee heard presentations from the directors of NASA’s Planetary Science Division (James Green), Astrophysics Division (Paul Hertz), and Astrobiology Program (Mary Voytek) on their expectations for the workshop. The committee also heard presentations on recent, related workshops from Jennifer Eigenbrode (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) and Christophe Sotin (Jet Propulsion Laboratory). The remainder of the September meeting was devoted to the ratification of decisions
concerning specific agenda items made during the committee-wide conference calls held during the summer and to the identification of individuals to fill the few remaining time slots on the workshop’s program.
The workshop itself was held on December 5-6, 2016, at the National Academies’ Beckman Center in Irvine, California. Approximately 120 experts from the fields of astrobiology, astrophysics, and planetary science, together with 90-plus online participants, spent 2 full days discussing the search for life in the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems. The in-person presentations and discussions were supplemented by 43 poster displays. A workshop proceedings will be drafted during the first quarter of 2017 and formally published in the second quarter of 2017. Additional details about the workshop can be found at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/ssb/currentprojects/ssb_173278.
Planning Committee Membership*
James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University (chair)
William Bains, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Tanja Bosak, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Irene A. Chen, University of California, Santa Barbara
Kevin Hand, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Christopher H. House, Pennsylvania State University
Victoria S. Meadows, University of Washington
Philip M. Neches, Teradata Corporation
Nilton O. Renno, University of Michigan
Gary Ruvkun, Massachusetts General Hospital
Nita Sahai, University of Akron
Dimitar Sasselov, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Mark H. Thiemens, University of California, San Diego
Margaret Turnbull, SETI Institute
David H. Smith, Senior Program Officer
Mia Brown, Research Associate, SSB (from December)
Katie Daud, Research Associate, SSB (through December)
Dionna Wise, Program Coordinator
* All terms began on June 29, 2016.