STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS IN INSTRUMENTATION
AND FACILITIES FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL
SAMPLE CURATION AND ANALYSIS
Committee on Extraterrestrial
Sample Analysis Facilities
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
A Consensus Study Report of
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
This activity was supported by Contract No. NNH17CB02B with National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 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.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-48669-9
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-48669-6
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25312
Cover: Polarized light microscope image of a lunar basalt returned by the Apollo 15 mission. Design by Jonathan Lutz, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern, Space Studies Board.
Additional copies of this publication are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2019 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25312.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. C. D. Mote, Jr., is president.
The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) was established in 1970 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to advise the nation on medical and health issues. Members are elected by their peers for distinguished contributions to medicine and health. Dr. Victor J. Dzau is president.
The three Academies work together as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 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.
Learn more about the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine at www.nationalacademies.org.
Consensus Study Reports published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine document the evidence-based consensus on the study’s statement of task by an authoring committee of experts. Reports typically include findings, conclusions, and recommendations based on information gathered by the committee and the committee’s deliberations. Each report has been subjected to a rigorous and independent peer-review process and it represents the position of the National Academies on the statement of task.
Proceedings published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine chronicle the presentations and discussions at a workshop, symposium, or other event convened by the National Academies. The statements and opinions contained in proceedings are those of the participants and are not endorsed by other participants, the planning committee, or the National Academies.
For information about other products and activities of the National Academies, please visit www.nationalacademies.org/about/whatwedo.
COMMITTEE ON EXTRATERRESTRIAL SAMPLE ANALYSIS FACILITIES
ROBERTA L. RUDNICK, NAS,1 University of California, Santa Barbara, Chair
GEORGE D. CODY, Carnegie Institution of Washington
JAMES H. CROCKER, NAE,2 Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (retired)
VINAYAK P. DRAVID, Northwestern University
JOHN M. EILER, NAS, California Institute of Technology
ABBY KAVNER, University of California, Los Angeles
TIMOTHY J. McCOY, Smithsonian Institution
CLIVE R. NEAL, University of Notre Dame
FRANK M. RICHTER,3 NAS, University of Chicago
HANIKA RIZO, Carleton University
KIMBERLY T. TAIT, Royal Ontario Museum
ABIGAIL A. SHEFFER, Senior Program Officer, Study Director
SARAH C. BROTHERS, Associate Program Officer
ANESIA WILKS, Senior Program Assistant
CARSON BULLOCK, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
JONATHAN LUTZ, Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Intern
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
3 Resigned from the committee on April 13, 2018.
SPACE STUDIES BOARD
FIONA HARRISON,1 NAS, California Institute of Technology, Chair
JAMES H. CROCKER, NAE, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (retired), Vice Chair
GREGORY P. ASNER, NAS, Carnegie Institution for Science
JEFF M. BINGHAM, Consultant
ADAM S. BURROWS, NAS, Princeton University
MARY LYNNE DITTMAR, Dittmar Associates, Inc.
JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara
JOSEPH FULLER, JR., Futron Corporation
SARAH GIBSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research
VICTORIA E. HAMILTON, Southwest Research Institute
CHRYSSA KOUVELIOTOU, NAS, George Washington University
DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, NAE, University of California, Los Angeles
ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
STEPHEN J. MACKWELL, Universities Space Research Association
DAVID J. McCOMAS, Princeton University
LARRY PAXTON, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics 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
ERIKA WAGNER, Blue Origin
PAUL WOOSTER, Space Exploration Technologies
EDWARD L. WRIGHT, NAS, University of California, Los Angeles
COLLEEN HARTMAN, Director (after August 6, 2018)
MICHAEL H. MOLONEY, Director (until March 2, 2018)
RICHARD ROWBERG, Interim Director (March 2, 2018 to August 6, 2018)
CARMELA J. CHAMBERLAIN, Administrative Coordinator (until June 30, 2018)
TANJA PILZAK, Manager, Program Operations
CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Information Management Associate
MARGARET KNEMEYER, Financial Officer
1 Resigned from the board on December 31, 2018.
Five sets of extraterrestrial samples gathered by missions, both human and robotic, have been returned to Earth: lunar materials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Apollo program, lunar materials from the USSR Luna program, solar wind particles from the NASA Genesis mission, cometary dust grains and interstellar particles from the NASA Stardust mission, and asteroid materials from the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa mission. In addition, there are more than 50,000 named meteorites recovered from around the world. In the next decade, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) and JAXA’s Hayabusa2 missions will return samples from two more asteroids, and sample return missions to a comet surface, the Moon, the martian moons, and Mars are being considered. The field of returned sample analysis is active and growing.
As part of preparing for the future influx of samples, the NASA Planetary Science Division (PSD) asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assemble a committee to determine what capabilities will be required for curation and analyses of returned samples, where current capabilities exist and if they are accessible, and whether NASA’s investment strategy provides the resources to meet the analytical requirements in support of current and future sample return missions. The Committee on Extraterrestrial Sample Analysis was formed and began work on its task (see Appendix A for the full statement of task).
The committee held three in-person meetings: November 19-21, 2017, in Irvine, California; January 22-24, 2018, in Houston, Texas; and April 3-5, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (See Appendix D for meeting agendas.) At the first meeting, the committee heard briefings about the OSIRIS-REx mission, NASA’s current plans for a Mars sample return architecture, and an overview of the NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) Astromaterials Acquisition and Curation Office and Planetary Sample Analysis and Mission Science Laboratory. The committee also was briefed on the current mechanism for sample allocation to external laboratories for study, an overview of the Smithsonian Institution meteorite collection, two concepts for cometary sample return, the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geosciences Instrumentation and Facilities Program, and the European Curation of Astromaterials Returned from Exploration of Space (EURO-CARES) project. At the second meeting, the committee held panel discussions on the curation and analysis of challenging materials, laboratory management and viability, and technological developments and innovation with representatives from university laboratories, NASA, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). The committee was briefed on the Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return (CAESAR) mission that had recently been selected for additional study as part of the PSD New Frontiers mission competition. The committee also toured the JSC curation and sample analysis laboratory
facilities. The committee’s third meeting had a short information-gathering session, including briefings on the Reflectance Experiment Laboratory (RELAB) facility at Brown University; the Stardust Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley; and the NASA Goddard Astrobiology Analytical Laboratory, as well as additional discussion regarding the challenges of curation for organic and life detection studies, and a detailed update of the JSC Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science facility strategy. The remainder of the meeting was held in closed session for committee discussion and writing. The committee held two additional open teleconference meetings, a discussion with then NASA Planetary Science Division Director James Green on October 31, 2017, before the committee’s first in-person meeting, and briefings on the sampling system and curation and analysis plans for JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission and the Martian Moons Exploration (MMX) mission concept on May 10, 2018.
The committee requested information from U.S. and international laboratories and museums on their major instrumentation and facilities, staffing, funding models, and major equipment upkeep. The committee thanks the 22 U.S. and 15 international respondents to this request (see Appendixes B and C). The committee also thanks the many planetary science researchers who discussed their work and opinions on the future of returned sample analysis research with the committee. Special thanks are given to the staff of JSC who graciously spent their first afternoon back in the office following a government shutdown giving tours of their facilities and also to the Lunar and Planetary Institute for hosting the committee’s Houston visit.
This report summarizes the history, planned future, and potential future of returned sample analysis missions as well as the current state of relevant laboratory facilities. Sample return from the surface of Mars is not expected until the late 2020s or early 2030s and will require extensive additional planning for special curation and research needs. The committee’s recommendations are focused primarily on the near-future needs for analytical and curation capabilities and the longer-term underpinnings for maintaining a vibrant sample analysis research community; thus, this report only briefly discusses the additional complications for curation and analysis of Mars surface samples.
Acknowledgment of Reviewers
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals 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 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, 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 thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Rodney C. Ewing, NAE,2 Stanford University. He was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
1 Member, National Academy of Sciences.
2 Member, National Academy of Engineering.
This page intentionally left blank.