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May 2012



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May 2012

New Releases

Space Studies Board Annual Report 2011
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Space Studies Board Annual Report 2011


Space Studies Board Annual Report 2011 covers a message from the chair of the SSB, Charles F. Kennel, where he expresses that 2011 was a challenging and uncertain year for NASA and the space science research communities. This report also explains the origins of the Space Science Board, how the Space Studies Board functions today, the SSB's collaboration with other National Research Council units, assures the quality of the SSB reports, acknowledges the audience and sponsors, and expresses the necessity to enhance the outreach and improve dissemination of SSB reports.

Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies
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Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies


Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies

Ridges and fractures in the icy plains of Jupiter’s moon Europa--shown as long, dark lines in these images obtained by NASA's Galileo spacecraft--contribute to geologic evidence that a subsurface ocean may have once existed on this Galilean satellite. (Image Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

NASA’s exploration of planets and satellites over the past 50 years has led to the discovery of traces of water ice throughout the solar system and prospects for large liquid water reservoirs beneath the frozen ice shells of multiple satellites of the giant planets of the outer solar system. During the coming decades, NASA and other space agencies will send flybys, orbiters, subsurface probes, and, possibly, landers to these distant worlds in order to explore their geologic and chemical context. Because of their potential to harbor alien life, NASA will select missions that target the most habitable outer solar system objects. This strategy poses formidable challenges for mission planners who must balance the opportunity for exploration with the risk of contamination by Earth’s microbes, which could confuse the interpretation of data obtained from these objects. The 2000 NRC report Preventing the Forward Contamination of Europa provided a criterion that was adopted with prior recommendations from the Committee on Space Research of the International Council for Science. This current SSB report revisits and extends the findings and recommendations of the 2000 Europa report in light of recent advances in planetary and life sciences and, among other tasks, assesses the risk of contamination of icy bodies in the solar system.

ASEB & SSB Spring Meetings

The spring meetings of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board and the Space Studies Board took place April 4-5, 2012 at the Keck Center in Washington, DC. The boards met jointly on April 4th and heard from Gale Allen of NASA's Office of the Chief Scientist; Mason Peck, NASA's Chief Technologist; Bill Gerstenmaier, Associate Administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate; and NASA's Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot. The boards heard updates from OSTP, OMB and Senate and House staffers.

On April 5th the boards met individually. SSB conducted discussions with NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Deputy Associate Administrator, Chuck Gay and SMD Division directors and also heard updates from NOAA and NSF representatives. The ASEB heard perspectives from Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, Ambassador Gregory Schulte and had discussions with Jaiwon Shin, NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate Associate Administrator as well as ARMD Program directors. Further details are available on the ASEB Web site and the SSB Web site.

Shuttle Discovery's Last Flight


The Space Shuttle Discovery, after 27 years of service and 39 successful missions, circled Washington, DC on the back of a NASA 747 at low altitude, affording a memorable view to crowds on rooftops and at the National Mall. Discovery landed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy center last week on its final mission. The shuttle will be on display there, along with the Enterprise, for public viewing. You can learn more at the Udvar-Hazy Center's Web site and read some of the Space Shuttle Program's history in DEPS reports:



Photo credit: Sharon Segal
Please click photos for larger versions.


BPA-BEES Report Garners National Press Coverage


The joint BPA-BEES interim report on "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy" was covered by several news outlets following its March release. In addition to articles on the Science and Nature magazine news sites, the report was highlighted by media outlets in the optics and photonics community, including the SPIE newsroom and The final report will evaluate the current status and future prospects for inertial confinement fusion as a component of the U.S. energy generation mix.


Upcoming Meetings

May 7-8, 2012
Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee Spring Meeting
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Keck Center, Washington DC 

May 7-9, 2012
Reusable Rocket Booster Systems
Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board

May 8-10, 2012
Meeting of the Committee on Disposal Options for the Rocket Motors of Nerve Agent Rockets at Blue Grass Army Depot
Board on Army Science and Technology
Keck Center, Washington, DC

May 17-18, 2012
Committee to Assess the Current Status and Future Direction of High Magnetic Field Science in the United States Meeting 2 
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Keck Center, Washington, DC 

May 17-18, 2012
Committee on Radio Frequencies Spring Meeting
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Washington, DC

May 23-25, 2012
Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science
Space Studies Board
Keck Center, Washington, DC

June 4-5, 2012
Committee to Review the U.S. Drive Research Program
Board on Energy and Environmental Systems

June 4-6, 2012
Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Space Studies Board








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