may also highlight scientific discoveries and engineering and technical advances relevant to progress on the science objectives identified in [Vision and Voyages].2
CAPS addressed the four topics identified by Dr. Green during and shortly after its March 28-30, 2017, meeting in Washington, D.C. The committee’s discussions and deliberations focused on two topics: (1) actions taken to implement the recommendation in Vision and Voyages concerning mission studies and (2) whether some decadal science priorities might be addressed by missions not considered in Vision and Voyages but motivated by recent scientific discoveries and technical advances.
Mission Studies Completed in Recent Years
What publicly available studies of future flagship- and New Frontiers-class missions has NASA initiated since the completion of Vision and Voyages?3 The 2011 Vision and Voyages decadal survey made use of mission and technology studies carried out by leading design centers (including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory [JPL], NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center). These studies are listed in the decadal survey’s report, and the results of these studies are publicly available.4 The Vision and Voyages mission and technology study reports remain an important starting point for future mission-planning activities. Since the publication of Vision and Voyages, several large- and medium-class mission concept studies have been carried out (see Table 1), and these will likely be relevant to the next decadal survey. In addition, several other community-organized activities have been carried out that are directly or indirectly relevant to the next planetary science decadal survey. These include the following:
- Various biosignatures and life-detection workshops (including the Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments,5 the Biosignatures of Extant Life on Ocean Worlds Workshop,6 and Searching for Life Across Space and Time7);
- The Planetary Science Vision 2050 workshop;8
- Reports from the various community-based analysis and assessment groups that address future mission concepts to varying degrees of specificity.9 These reports address the following topics:
2 The statement of task for the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science is available at http://www8.nationalacademies.org/cp/projectview.aspx?key=49864.
3 The term “flagship” is used to denote a large, strategic mission. That is one, larger than those within the current scope of the competitively selected New Frontiers (medium-class) and Discovery (small-class) spacecraft missions. In addition, the term New Frontiers- and Discovery-class are often taken as being synonymous with, respectively, medium- and small-class missions.
4 NRC, Vision and Voyages, 2011, pp. 331-368 and 381-382. The full text of Appendix G (i.e., pp. 381-382 plus the 25 mission and four technology study) is available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13117.
5 See, for example, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Meeting Planning Services, “Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments,” 2016, https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/biosignature2016/.
7 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Searching for Life Across Space and Time: Proceedings of a Workshop, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2017, in review.
8 Although the time horizon of the workshop extended to the 2050s, some of the activities discussed are germane to the next planetary science decadal survey. For more details see Lunar and Planetary Institute, Meeting Planning Services, “Planetary Science Vision 2020 Workshop,” 2017, https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/V2050/.
CAPS has been briefed on most of the study activities listed in Table 1 during the course of its recent meetings. As a result of these briefings, examination of respective study reports, and subsequent deliberations during its March 2017 meeting, CAPS was satisfied that all of the reports listed in Table 1 contain sufficient qualitative information to determine the degree to which the described missions can address priority science goals as described in Vision and Voyages. The alignment between missions listed in Table 1 and crosscutting themes and priority questions from Vision and Voyages is outlined in the Table A.1 in the Appendix.13 Of particular note is the recent completion of a comprehensive ice giant (i.e., Uranus and Neptune) mission study. Vision and Voyages underlined the dearth of knowledge about the composition, interior structure, and evolution of Uranus and Neptune and the ramifications for overall understanding of the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems. For these and other reasons, a Uranus orbiter and probe mission was ranked in Vision and Voyages as the third-highest-priority large mission for initiation during the current decade.
TABLE 1 Publicly Available Mission Studies Initiated Since the Completion of the 2011 Vision and Voyages Decadal Survey
|Missions Studied (study concluded)||Availability|
|Uranus and Neptune (Ice Giants) system missions (2017)||Full text of the NASA science definition team reporta|
|Europa lander (2017)||Full text of the NASA science definition team reportb|
|Venus orbiter and lander (Venera-D) (2017)||Full text of the joint U.S.-Russian science definition team report for Venera-Dc|
|Mars orbiter (2015)||Full text of MEPAG’s Next Orbiter Science Analysis Groupd|
NOTE: See Table A.1 in the Appendix for the alignment between these missions and the crosscutting science themes from Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (National Research Council, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2011).
a Solar System Exploration Directorate, Ice Giants Pre-Decadal Study Final Report, JPL D-100520, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 2017, http://www.lpi.usra.edu/icegiants/mission_study/Full-Report.pdf.
b NASA, Report of the Europa Lander Science Definition Team, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 2017, http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/docs/Europa_Lander_SDT_Report_2016.pdf.
c Space Research Institute, Venera-D: Expanding our Horizon of Terrestrial Planet Climate and Geology through the Comprehensive Exploration of Venus—Report of the Venera-D Joint Science Definition Team, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 2017, http://iki.rssi.ru/events/2017/venera_d.pdf.
d Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group, Report from the Next Orbiter Science Analysis Group, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., 2015, https://mepag.jpl.nasa.gov/reports/NEX-SAG_draft_v29_FINAL.pdf.
10 Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, Volatiles Specific Action Team: Final Report, December 31, 2014, http://www.lpi.usra.edu/leag/reports/vsat_report_123114x.pdf.
12 Venus Exploration Analysis Group, Roadmap for Venus Exploration, 2014, http://www.lpi.usra.edu/vexag/reports/Roadmap-140617.pdf.
13 The crosscutting themes and priority questions are summarized in NRC, Vision and Voyages, 2011, Table 3.1, p. 71.