Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
- Deps home
deps_leftnav_icon08 America's Energy Future
- Reports
- DEPSNews Archives
- Boards, Standing Committees, Roundtables/Forums
- Contact DEPS Staff
- Our Mission
- Current Projects
DEPS Reports
2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Procedures and Standards for a Multipurpose Cadastre  
Released 2006-12-15

A Review of United States Air Force and Department of Defense Aerospace Propulsion Needs   (AFSB)
Released 2006-12-14

Rocket and air-breathing propulsion systems are the foundation on which planning for future aerospace systems rests. A Review of United States Air Force and Department of Defense Aerospace Propulsion Needs assesses the existing technical base in these areas and examines the future Air Force capabilities the base will be expected to support. This report also defines gaps and recommends where future warfighter capabilities not yet fully defined could be met by current science and technology development plans.

Climate in Earth HistoryStudies in Geophysics  
Released 2006-12-07

A Matter of SizeTriennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative   (NMAB)
Released 2006-11-30

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was created in 2000 to focus and coordinate the nanoscience and nanotechnology research and development (R&D) activities being funded by several federal agencies. The purpose of the NNI is to marshal these research activities in order to accelerate responsible development and deployment of nanotechnology for economic benefit and national security. To take stock of the progress of the NNI, Congress, in P. L. 108-153, the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, directed the National Research Council to carry out a review of the program every three years. This report presents the results of the first of those reviews, which addresses the economic impact of nanotechnology developments and provides a benchmark of U.S. R&D efforts relative to those undertaken by foreign competitors. In addition, the report offers an assessment of the current status of responsible development of nanotechnology and comments on the feasibility of molecular self-assembly.

Third Report of the National Academy of Engineering/National Research Council Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects  
Released 2006-11-21

This report reviews a June 1, 2006 draft study by the federal Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force (IPET), which was established in 2005 to evaluate the performance of the New Orleans regional hurricane protection system during Hurricane Katrina. This is the third report in a series from a committee that is jointly overseen by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Research Council (NRC). The IPET June 1 study is ambitious in scope and extensive, containing over 6,000 pages of text, figures, and tables. The NAE/NRC report finds that the IPET study does not provide an executive summary that clearly explains the primary IPET study objectives and findings to date. Because this summary will be reviewed carefully by policymakers and New Orleans officials and citizens, it should be written in a style that can be easily understood and present clear conclusions that are linked to analyses in the body of the study. Although the IPET study represents several advances in geotechnical evaluation at specific levee breach sites, it should provide a better presentation of geologic and soil conditions across the region. Future studies from the IPET should pay close attention to characterizing uncertainties--particularly with regard to estimates of storm surge and future levels of flooding risks--to better inform future planning and decision making.

Review of International Technologies for Destruction of Recovered Chemical Warfare Materiel   (BAST)
Released 2006-11-02

The Chemical Weapons Convention requires, among other things, that the signatories to the convention--which includes the United States--destroy by April 29, 2007, or as soon possible thereafter, any chemical warfare materiel that has been recovered from sites where it has been buried once discovered. For several years the United States and several other countries have been developing and using technologies to dispose of this non-stockpile materiel. To determine whether international efforts have resulted in technologies that would benefit the U.S. program, the U.S. Army asked the NRC to evaluate and compare such technologies to those now used by the United States. This book presents a discussion of factors used in the evaluations, summaries of evaluations of several promising international technologies for processing munitions and for agent-only processing, and summaries of other technologies that are less likely to be of benefit to the U.S. program at this time.

Revealing the Hidden Nature of Space and TimeCharting the Course for Elementary Particle Physics   (BPA)
Released 2006-10-12

As part of the Physics 2010 decadal survey project, the National Research Council was asked by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation to recommend priorities for the U.S. particle physics program for the next 15 years. The challenge faced in this study was to identify a compelling leadership role for the United States in elementary particle physics given the global nature of the field and the current lack of a long-term and distinguishing strategic focus. Revealing the Hidden Nature of Space and Time provides an assessment of the scientific challenges in particle physics, including the key questions and experimental opportunities, the current status of the U.S. program and the strategic framework in which it sits and a set of strategic principles and recommendations to sustain a competitive and globally relevant U.S. particle physics program.

Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space ExplorationReport of a Workshop   (SSB)
Released 2006-10-10

Fulfilling the President’s Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) will require overcoming many challenges. Among these are the hazards of space radiation to crews traveling to the Moon and Mars. To explore these challenges in some depth and to examine ways to marshal research efforts to address them, NASA, NSF, and the NRC sponsored a workshop bringing together members of the space and planetary science, radiation physics, operations, and exploration engineering communities. The goals of the workshop were to increase understanding of the solar and space physics in the environment of Earth, the Moon, and Mars; to identify compelling relevant research goals; and discuss directions this research should take over the coming decade. This workshop report presents a discussion of radiation risks for the VSE, an assessment of specifying and predicting the space radiation environment, an analysis of operational strategies for space weather support, and a summary and conclusions of the workshop.

Future Air Force Needs for Survivability   (AFSB)
Released 2006-10-03

A key technical issue for future Air Force systems is to improve their ability to survive. Increased use of stealth technology is proposed by many to be the major element in efforts to enhance survivability for future systems. Others, however, suggest that the high cost and maintenance required of stealth technology make increased speed potentially more productive. To help address this issue, the Air Force asked the NRC to investigate combinations of speed and stealth that would provide U.S. aircraft with a high survival capability in the 2018 period, and to identify changes in R&D plans to enable such aircraft. This report presents a review of stealth technology development; a discussion of possible future missions and threats; an analysis of the technical feasibility for achieving various levels of stealth and different speeds by 2018 and of relevant near-term R&D needs and priorities; and observations about the utility of speed and stealth trade-offs against evolving threats.

Decadal Survey of Civil AeronauticsFoundation for the Future   (ASEB)
Released 2006-09-27

The U.S. air transportation system is very important for our economic well-being and national security. The nation is also the global leader in civil and military aeronautics, a position that needs to be maintained to help assure a strong future for the domestic and international air transportation system. Strong action is needed, however, to ensure that leadership role continues. To that end, the Congress and NASA requested the NRC to undertake a decadal survey of civil aeronautics research and technology (R&T) priorities that would help NASA fulfill its responsibility to preserve U.S. leadership in aeronautics technology. This report presents a set of strategic objectives for the next decade of R&T. It provides a set of high-priority R&T challenges—-characterized by five common themes—-for both NASA and non-NASA researchers, and an analysis of key barriers that must be overcome to reach the strategic objectives. The report also notes the importance of synergies between civil aeronautics R&T objectives and those of national security.

Alternatives to the Indian Point Energy Center for Meeting New York Electric Power Needs   (BEES)
Released 2006-09-27

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, many in the New York City area have become concerned about the possible consequences of a similar attack on the Indian Point nuclear power plants—located about 40 miles from Manhattan, and have made calls for their closure. Any closure, however, would require actions to replace the 2000 MW of power supplied by the plants. To examine this issue in detail, the Congress directed DOE to request a study from the NRC of options for replacing the power. This report presents detailed review of both demand and supply options for replacing that power as well as meeting expected demand growth in the region. It also assesses institutional considerations for these options along with their expected impacts. Finally, the report provides an analysis of scenarios for implementing the replacement options using simulation modeling.

Defense Modeling, Simulation, and AnalysisMeeting the Challenge   (BMSTA,BMSA)
Released 2006-09-22

Modeling, simulation, and analysis (MS&A) is a crucial tool for military affairs. MS&A is one of the announced pillars of a strategy for transforming the U.S. military. Yet changes in the enterprise of MS&A have not kept pace with the new demands arising from rapid changes in DOD processes and missions or with the rapid changes in the technology available to meet those demands. To help address those concerns, DOD asked the NRC to identify shortcomings in current practice of MS&A and suggest where and how they should be resolved. This report provides an assessment of the changing mission of DOD and environment in which it must operate, an identification of high-level opportunities for MS&A research to address the expanded mission, approaches for improving the interface between MS&A practitioners and decision makers, a discussion of training and continuing education of MS&A practitioners, and an examination of the need for coordinated military science research to support MS&A.

Review of the Science Mission Directorate's (SMD's) Draft Science PlanLetter Report   (SSB)
Released 2006-09-21

In response to the 2005 NASA Authorization Act and to provide a strategy document t to guide implementation of the 2006 NASA Strategic Plan in the areas of Earth and space science, the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) prepared a 2006 draft science plan. To help guide the SMD as it completes this effort, NASA asked the NRC to review the draft science plan. This letter report provides general observations about the plan, and assessments of the plan’s responsiveness to recommendations from recent NRC studies, its attention to interdisciplinary aspects and scientific balance, the plan’s utility to stakeholders, and its general readability and clarity. Finally the report presents recommendations for improving the plan.

The Scientific Context for Exploration of the MoonInterim Report   (SSB)
Released 2006-09-19

Because of the Moon's unique place in the evolution of rocky worlds, it is a prime focus of NASA's space exploration vision. Currently NASA is defining and implementing a series of robotic orbital and landed missions to the Moon as the initial phase of this vision. To realize the benefits of this activity, NASA needs a comprehensive, well-validated, and prioritized set of scientific research objectives. To help establish those objective, NASA asked the NRC to provide guidance on the scientific challenges and opportunities enabled by sustained robotic and human exploration of the Moon during the period 2008-2013+. This interim report, which focuses on science of the Moon, presents a number of scientific themes describing broad scientific goals important for lunar research, discussions of how best to reach these goals, a set of three priority areas that follow from the themes, and recommendations for these priorities and related areas. A final report will follow in the summer of 2007.

Condensed-Matter and Materials PhysicsThe Science of the World Around Us: An Interim Report   (BPA)
Released 2006-09-14

As part of the 2010 physics decadal survey project, DOE and NSF requested the NRC to assess opportunities, over roughly the next decade, in condensed matter and materials physics (CMMP). The study is to review recent accomplishments and new opportunities; identify potential future impact of CMMP; consider its contributions to national needs; assessing priorities for tools and facilities; analyze current research and funding; and make recommendations for realizing the full benefit of CMMP. This interim report provides a summary of the early assessment of eight important challenges facing CMMP research in the coming decade and a brief review of the international situation. The final report will present a detailed discussion of these challenges including recommendations for addressing them.

Renewing U.S. Telecommunications Research   (CSTB)
Released 2006-09-01

The modern telecommunications infrastructure—made possible by research performed over the last several decades—is an essential element of the U.S. economy. The U.S. position as a leader in telecommunications technology, however, is at risk because of the recent decline in domestic support of long-term, fundamental telecommunications research. To help understand this challenge, the National Science Foundation asked the NRC to assess the state of telecommunications research in the United States and recommend ways to halt the research decline. This report provides an examination of telecommunications research support levels, focus, and time horizon in industry, an assessment of university telecommunications research, and the implications of these findings on the health of the sector. Finally, it presents recommendations for enhancing U.S. telecommunications’ research efforts.

Space Studies Board Annual Report 2005   (SSB)
Released 2006-08-25

Assessment of NASA's Mars Architecture 2007-2016   (SSB)
Released 2006-08-21

The United States and the former Soviet Union have sent spacecraft to mars as early as 1966, with Mars' exploration being priority for NASA spacecraft. Both sides, however, have failed as well as succeed. The inability to determine if life exists on Mars is considered one of NASA's failures and undercut political support for additional Mars missions in the U.S. until the launch of the Mars Observer in 1992. Thus, the exploration of life on Mars continues, but with a new approach. Assessment of NASA's Mars Architecture, 2007-2016 is an assessment by the Committee to Review the Next Decade Mars Architecture of the National Research Council (NRC) conducted by request of Dr. Mary Cleave, NASA's Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. The Committee addresses the following questions: Is the Mars architecture reflective of the strategies, priorities, and guidelines put forward by the National Research Council's solar system exploration decadal survey and related science strategies and NASA plans?, Does the revised Mars architecture address the goals of NASA's Mars Exploration Program and optimize the science return, given the current fiscal posture of the program?, and Does the Mars architecture represent a reasonably balanced mission portfolio? After several months of study, consideration and incorporation of the guidance from NRC studies, especially New Frontiers in the Solar System, and the Vision for Space Exploration; community consultations via individual inputs; and a MEPAG-sponsored working group, a plan was created. This report includes the plan, which has an Astrobiology Field Laboratory or two Mild Rovers mission planned for 2016, recommendations from the committee, NRC guidelines for mars exploration, and more.

Review and Assessment of the Proposals for Design and Operation of Designated Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (DCAPP-Blue Grass II)Letter Report   (BAST)
Released 2006-08-17

In 2002, the Army asked for proposals for a full-scale pilot plant to destroy chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and, in 2003, for a similar plant for the Blue Grass Army Depot. In both cases, the initial designs proved to be too costly, and redesigns were requested. At the same time, the Army asked the NRC to form committees to review and assess these proposals. This report focuses on the technical aspects, maturity, and schedule for the proposed full intermediate design for the Blue Grass facility, less the supercritical water oxidation process, which was reviewed in a previous report.

Review and Assessment of the Proposals for Design and Operation of Designated Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (DCAPP-Pueblo)Letter Report   (BAST)
Released 2006-08-16

n 2002, the Army asked for proposals for a full-scale pilot plant to destroy chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot and, in 2003, for a similar plant for the Blue Grass Army Depot. In both cases, the initial designs proved to be too costly, and redesigns were requested. At the same time, the Army asked the NRC to form committees to review and assess these proposals. This report focuses on the technical aspects, maturity, and schedule of the proposed modified design for the Pueblo facility.

Letter Report on Electronic Voting   (CSTB)
Released 2006-07-20

In September 2005, the NRC released a report, Asking the Right Questions about Electronic Voting, which provided an extensive list of questions that must be addressed about the use of electronic information technology in election administration. In May 2006, the NRC held a workshop that addressed progress that has been made since the publication of that report. This letter report summarizes the workshop and notes that many of the issues raised in the first report remain open and quite fluid as the nation approaches the 2006 election. The letter report presents a review of the current status of preparation for and a set of emerging factors that are likely to effect the election, and a series of recommendations to assist preparations and address these factors.

Letter Report of Review and Assessment of the Proposals for Design and Operation of Designated Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plants (DCAPP-Blue Grass)   (BAST)
Released 2006-07-11

In 2003, the Army asked for proposals for a full-scale pilot plant to destroy chemical weapons at the Blue Grass Army Depot using a neutralization process. The initial proposal from Bechtel and Parsons Corporations, using a supercritical water oxidation process (SCWO), proved to be too costly, so the Army asked for a revised proposal. At the same time, the Army asked the NRC to form committees to review and assess this proposal along with one developed for the chemical weapon storage facility in Pueblo, CO. This letter report provides an assessment of the intermediate design proposal of the modified SCWO Blue Grass Chemical Agent Destruction Pilot Plant. The assessment is confined to the technical aspects, maturity, and schedule of the proposed facility.

Instrumentation for a Better TomorrowProceedings of a Symposium in Honor of Arnold Beckman   (BPA)
Released 2006-07-11

On November 15, 2004, the National Academies sponsored a symposium at the Beckman Center in honor of Arnold O. Beckman. The symposium concentrated on the wide-ranging practical applications of scientific instrumentation as was the focus of much of Arnold Beckman’s career. The report begins with two presentations: a remembrance by Arnold Beckman’s daughter, Pat, and an overview of his life and accomplishments by Arnold Thackray, President of the Chemical Heritage Foundation. The next section contains presentations on the application of instrumentation in seven, diverse areas: organic chemistry, molecular and systems biology, synchrotron x-ray sources, nanoscale chemistry, forensics, and clinical medicine. Finally, there is a summary of a panel discussion on the evolving relationship between instrumentation and research.

Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering WorkforceInterim Report   (SSB,ASEB)
Released 2006-06-20

In January 2006, the President announced a new civilian space policy focusing on exploration. As part of its preparations to implement that policy, NASA asked the NRC to explore long-range science and technology workforce needs to achieve the space exploration vision, identify obstacles to filling those needs, and put forward solutions to those obstacles. As part of the study, the NRC held a workshop to identify important factors affecting NASA’s future workforce and its capacity to implement the exploration vision. This interim report presents a summary of the highlights of that workshop and an initial set of findings. The report provides a review of the workforce implications of NASA’s plans, an assessment of science and technology workforce demographics, an analysis of factors affecting the aerospace workforce for both NASA and the relevant aerospace industry, and preliminary findings and recommendations. A final report is scheduled for completion in early 2007.

Second Report of the National Academy of Engineering/National Research Council Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects  
Released 2006-06-07

An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs   (SSB)
Released 2006-05-30

When the space exploration initiative was announced, Congress asked the NRC to review the science NASA proposed to carryout under the initiative. It also asked the NRC to assess whether this program would provide balanced scientific research across the established disciplines supported by NASA in addition to supporting the new initiative. In 2005, the NRC released three studies focusing on a portion of that task, but changes at NASA forced the postponement of the last phase. This report presents that last phase with an assessment of the health of the NASA scientific disciplines under the budget requests imposed by the exploration initiative. The report also provides an analysis of whether the science budget appropriately reflects cross-disciplinary scientific priorities.

Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial ResearchReport of a Workshop   (SSB)
Released 2006-05-19

A recommendation of the NRC’s decadal survey in solar and space physics, published in 2002, was the Small Instrument Distributed Ground-Based Network, which would provide global-scale ionospheric and upper atmospheric measurements crucial to understanding the atmosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere system. To explore the scientific rationale for this distributed array of small instruments (known as DASI), the infrastructure needed to support and make use of such arrays, and proposals for a deployment implementation plan, the NRC held a workshop of interested parties at the request of the National Science Foundation. This report presents a summary of that workshop focusing on the science and instruments, and on infrastructure issues. It describes the themes emerging from the workshop: the need to address the magnetosphere-ionosphere-magnetosphere ensemble as a system; the need for real-time observations; and the insufficiency of current observations.

Proceedings of a Workshop to Review PATH Strategy, Operating Plan, and Performance Measures   (BICE)
Released 2006-05-19

Critical Technology Accessibility   (AFSB)
Released 2006-05-15

In 2003, the Defense Intelligence Agency asked the NRC to form a standing committee to help develop study topics about technology warning. One issue that was identified was the growing dependence on foreign suppliers of critical technology as a result of the increase in globalization of economic activity. Two important questions emerged for study: what is the risk of denial of critical products from foreign sources and what must the United States do to assure access to future critical products and technologies? This report presents an assessment addressing those two questions. It also provides an analysis of a strategic approach to manage the consequences of this trend towards increased globalization. Finally, the report offers a set of recommendations to implement this strategy and to increase assurance of access to critical technologies.

C4ISR for Future Naval Strike Groups   (NSB)
Released 2006-04-26

The Navy has put forth a new construct for its strike forces that enables more effective forward deterrence and rapid response. A key aspect of this construct is the need for flexible, adaptive command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. To assist development of this capability, the Navy asked the NRC to examine C4ISR for carrier, expeditionary, and strike and missile defense strike groups, and for expeditionary strike forces. This report provides an assessment of C4ISR capabilities for each type of strike group; recommendations for C4ISR architecture for use in major combat operations; promising technology trends; and an examination of organizational improvements that can enable the recommended architecture.

Proceedings from the Workshop on Biomedical Materials at the EdgeChallenges in the Convergence of Technologies   (NMAB)
Released 2006-04-24

Recent advances in biomedical materials technology hold the promise of a revolution in clinical medicine. These advances are being made possible by a convergence of technologies arising from a wide array of scientific discoveries. This convergence, however, is presenting new challenges as well as new opportunities. To explore these findings and to discuss possible ways to overcome the challenges, a workshop on this topic was held under the auspices of the NRC's Roundtable on Biomedical Engineering Materials and Applications. This report and accompanying CD provides a summary and the proceedings of the workshop. They present discussions of the context for new biomedical materials and of the three emerging technologies that were covered at the workshop: stem cells as biomaterials of the future, biomolecular materials composites, and superamolecular/nanoscale engineering and design.

Is That Real? Identification and Assessment of the Counterfeiting Threat for U.S. Banknotes   (BMED)
Released 2006-04-19

A key mission of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing of the Department of the Treasury is the design and printing of U.S. banknotes. The BEP is responsible for producing easily recognizable currency that is difficult to counterfeit. In recent years, the bureau has recognized the modern information technology could lead to entirely new types of counterfeiting threats, and it has requested a number of studies by the NRC to assess these evolving threats. In this new request, the BEP asked the NRC to identify and evaluate significant emerging counterfeiting threats and to assess technologically feasible counterfeit-deterrent features for potential use in new designs. This first report provides an assessment of emerging threats including a wide range of digital imaging and printing techniques. It also presents an analysis of a systems approach to the counterfeiting threat. The second report will offer an evaluation of new banknote features to address these threats.

Review of Goals and Plans for NASA's Space and Earth Sciences   (SSB)
Released 2006-04-05

Both the President’s commission on how to implement the President’s space exploration initiative and Congress asked the NRC undertake an assessment and review of the science proposed to be carried out under the initiative. An initial response to that request was the NRC February 2005 report, Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration. While that report’s preparation, NASA created capabilities and strategy roadmapping efforts which became the object of the next phase of the NRC review. The new NASA administrator modified that NASA activity resulting in changes in the NRC review effort. This report provides a review of six science strategy roadmaps: robotic and human exploration of Mars; solar system exploration; universe exploration; search for earth-like planets; earth science and applications from space; and sun-earth system connection. In addition, an assessment of cross-cutting and integration issues is presented.

Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station   (SSB)
Released 2006-04-05

In January 2004, President Bush announced a new space policy directed at human and robotic exploration of space. In June 2004, the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy issued a report recommending among other things that NASA ask the National Research Council (NRC) to reevaluate space science priorities to take advantage of the exploration vision. Congress also directed the NRC to conduct a thorough review of the science NASA is proposing to undertake within the initiative. In February 2005, the NRC released Science in NASA’s Vision for Space Exploration, the first report of the two studies undertaken to carry out these requests. The second report focuses on NASA’s plan for the ISS. This report provides broad advice on programmatic issues that NASA is likely to face as it attempts to develop an updated ISS utilization plan. It also presents an assessment of potentially important research and testbed activities that may have to be performed on the ISS to help ensure success of some exploration objectives.

Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars   (SSB)
Released 2006-03-22

Recent spacecraft and robotic probes to Mars have yielded data that are changing our understanding significantly about the possibility of existing or past life on that planet. Coupled with advances in biology and life-detection techniques, these developments place increasing importance on the need to protect Mars from contamination by Earth-borne organisms. To help with this effort, NASA requested that the NRC examine existing planetary protection measures for Mars and recommend changes and further research to improve such measures. This report discusses policies, requirements, and techniques to protect Mars from organisms originating on Earth that could interfere with scientific investigations. It provides recommendations on cleanliness and biological burden levels of Mars-bound spacecraft, methods to reach those levels, and research to reduce uncertainties in preventing forward contamination of Mars.

Principal-Investigator-Led Missions in the Space Sciences   (SSB)
Released 2006-03-22

Principal Investigator-Led (PI-led) missions are an important element of NASA’s space science enterprise. While several NRC studies have considered aspects of PI-led missions in the course of other studies for NASA, issues facing the PI-led missions in general have not been subject to much analysis in those studies. Nevertheless, these issues are raising increasingly important questions for NASA, and it requested the NRC to explore them as they currently affect PI-led missions. Among the issues NASA asked to have examined were those concerning cost and scheduling, the selection process, relationships among PI-led team members, and opportunities for knowledge transfer to new PIs. This report provides a discussion of the evolution and current status of the PIled mission concept, the ways in which certain practices have affected its performance, and the steps that can carry it successfully into the future. The study was done in collaboration with the National Academy of Public Administration.

Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion   (SSB,ASEB)
Released 2006-03-20

In 2003, NASA began an R&D effort to develop nuclear power and propulsion systems for solar system exploration. This activity, renamed Project Prometheus in 2004, was initiated because of the inherent limitations in photovoltaic and chemical propulsion systems in reaching many solar system objectives. To help determine appropriate missions for a nuclear power and propulsion capability, NASA asked the NRC for an independent assessment of potentially highly meritorious missions that may be enabled if space nuclear systems became operational. This report provides a series of space science objectives and missions that could be so enabled in the period beyond 2015 in the areas of astronomy and astrophysics, solar system exploration, and solar and space physics. It is based on but does not reprioritize the findings of previous NRC decadal surveys in those three areas.

Identification of Promising Naval Aviation Science and Technology Opportunities   (NSB)
Released 2006-03-09

The Department of Defense is developing the means to transform the nation’s armed forces to meet future military challenges. For the Navy and Marine Corps, this vision is encompassed in Naval Power 21. Many new war-fighting concepts will be needed to implement this vision, and the ONR has requested the NRC to identify new science and technology opportunities for new naval aviation capabilities to support those concepts. This report presents an assessment of what they imply for naval aviation, an analysis of some capabilities that, if developed, would make a significant contribution to realizing those concepts, and an identification of key technologies in which ONR could invest to achieve those capabilities. In particular, the report focuses on seven key capabilities: multispectral defense, unmanned air operations, hypersonic weapons delivery, fast-kill weapons, heavy-lift air transport, intelligent combat information management, and omniscient intelligence.

Midsize FacilitiesThe Infrastructure for Materials Research   (BPA)
Released 2006-03-06

Most of the instruments now used for materials research are too complex and expensive for individual investigators to own, operate, and maintain them. Consequently, they have become increasingly consolidated into multi-user, small to midsized research facilities, located at many sites around the country. The proliferation of these facilities, however, has drawn calls for a careful assessment of best principles for their operation. With support from the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, the NRC carried out a study to characterize and discuss ways to optimize investments in materials research facility infrastructure with attention to midsize facilities. This report provides an assessment of the nature and importance of mid-sized facilities, their capabilities, challenges they face, current investment, and optimizing their effectiveness.

Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting   (CSTB)
Released 2006-03-02

Many election officials look to electronic voting systems as a means for improving their ability to more effectively conduct and administer elections. At the same time, many information technologists and activists have raised important concerns regarding the security of such systems. Policy makers are caught in the midst of a controversy with both political and technological overtones. The public debate about electronic voting is characterized by a great deal of emotion and rhetoric. Asking the Right Questions About Electronic Voting describes the important questions and issues that election officials, policy makers, and informed citizens should ask about the use of computers and information technology in the electoral process--focusing the debate on technical and policy issues that need resolving. The report finds that while electronic voting systems have improved, federal and state governments have not made the commitment necessary for e-voting to be widely used in future elections. More funding, research, and public education are required if e-voting is to become viable.

Trends in Oil Supply and Demand, the Potential for Peaking of Conventional Oil Production, and Possible Mitigation OptionsA Summary Report of the Workshop   (BEES)
Released 2006-02-17

Recent events and analyses have suggested that global production of oil might peak sometime within the next few years to the next one or two decades. Other analyses, however, conclude that oil supply can meet global demand for some decades to come and that oil production peaking is much further off. To explore this issue, the NRC held a workshop, funded by the Department of Energy, bringing together analysts representing these different views. The workshop was divided into four main sessions: setting the stage; future global oil supply and demand balance; mitigation options and time to implementation; and potential follow-up activities. This report provides a summary of the workshop including the key points, issues and questions raised by the participants, and it identifies possible topics for follow-up studies. No consensus views, conclusions, or recommendations are presented.

Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus MissionsLetter Report   (SSB)
Released 2006-02-16

In 2005, the Planetary Protection Office of NASA asked the NRC to advise the Office on planetary protection concerns about missions to and from Venus. In particular, the NRC was asked to assess whether the surface and atmospheric environments of Venus might be capable of supporting microbial contamination from Earth, and, if so, to recommend prevention measures for future missions; to recommend planetary protection measures associated with return of samples from Venus to Earth; and to identify specific scientific investigations that may be needed to reduce any uncertainty in those assessments. This letter report provides a review of scientific considerations and past NRC studies on the issue; brief assessments of the key topics affecting the potential for forward and back contamination; a review of planetary protection considerations; and conclusions and recommendations.

Review and Assessment of the Health and Productivity Benefits of Green SchoolsAn Interim Report   (BICE)
Released 2006-02-06

Some educational professionals have suggested that so-called green schools would result in superior performance and increased health for students and teachers. While there is no commonly accepted definition of a green school, there are a number of attributes that such schools appear to have: low cost operations, security, healthy and comfortable, and an environment that enhances learning are among them. To determine the health and productivity benefits of green schools, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Barr and Kendall Foundations, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, and the U.S. Green Building Council asked the NRC to examine available studies about the effects of green schools on student learning and teacher productivity. This interim report presents an evaluation of evidence for relationships between various health, learning, and productivity outcomes and five characteristics of green schools: the building envelope, ventilation, lighting, acoustics, and condition. The final report will present evaluations for additional characteristics, a synthesis of the results of all assessments, and promising areas of research.

Summary of a Workshop on the Technology, Policy, and Cultural Dimensions of Biometric Systems   (CSTB)
Released 2006-02-06

Biometrics—the use of physiological and behavioral characteristics for identification purposes—has been promoted as a way to enhance security and identification efficiency. There are questions, however, about, among other issues, the effectiveness of biometric security measures, usability, and the social impacts of biometric technologies. To address these and other important questions, the NRC was asked by DARPA, the DHS, and the CIA to undertake a comprehensive assessment of biometrics that examines current capabilities, future possibilities, and the role of the government in their developments. As a first step, a workshop was held at which a variety of views about biometric technologies and systems were presented. This report presents a summary of the workshop’s five panels: scientific and technical challenges; measurement, statistics, testing, and evaluation; legislative, policy, human, and cultural factors; scenarios and applications; and technical and policy aspects of information sharing. The results of this workshop coupled with other information will form the basis of the study’s final report.

Basic Research in Information Science and Technology for Air Force Needs   (BMSTA,BMSA)
Released 2006-01-23

The U.S. Air Force is developing new force capabilities appropriate to an emerging array of threats. It is clear that advances in information science and technology (IS&T) are essential for most of these new capabilities. As a consequence, the Air Force is finding it necessary to refocus its IS&T basic research program to provide stronger support for reaching these goals. To assist this effort, the AFOSR asked the NRC for a study to create a vision and plan for the IS&T-related programs within the Office’s Mathematics and Space Science Directorate. This report provides an assessment of basic research needs for Air Force systems and communications, software, information management and integration, and human interactions with IS&T systems. The report also offers a set of priorities for basic IS&T research, and an analysis of funding mechanisms its support.

Managing Construction and Infrastructure in the 21st Century Bureau of Reclamation   (BICE)
Released 2006-01-19

In the more than 100 years since its formation, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of Interior (DOI), through its construction program, has brought water, electric power, and recreation facilities to millions of people in the Western United States. With major water and power systems in place, the Bureau’s attention has now turned to operation, maintenance, repair, and modernization of those facilities in an environmentally and economically sound manner. To help with this effort, DOI asked the NRC to advise the Bureau on “appropriate organizational, management, and resource configurations to meet its construction, maintenance, and infrastructure requirements for its missions of the 21st century.” This report presents an assessment of the requirements facing the Bureau in the 21st century, an analysis of good practices and techniques for addressing those challenges, and a review of workforce and human resource needs. The report also provides alternative scenarios that describe possible future organizations for infrastructure management.

Defending the U.S. Air Transportation System Against Chemical and Biological Threats   (NMAB)
Released 2006-01-10

Historically, most terrorist attacks on civilian targets have involved the use of firearms or explosives, and current defensive strategies are aimed at preventing attacks perpetrated by such means. However, the use of the nerve agent sarin in 1995 to attack the Tokyo subway system, the use of the U.S. mail in 2001 to distribute letters containing anthrax spores, and the discovery in 2004 of the biological toxin ricin in U.S. Senate Office Buildings in Washington, D.C., demonstrate that chemical and biological agents have been added to terrorists' arsenals. Attacks involving chemical/biological agents are of great concern, not only because of the potential for mass casualties but also because there is no strategy or technology fielded today that can respond adequately to this threat. As the United States and other countries reassess the security measures they have in place to prevent or defend against such attacks, the risks to the air transportation system as a primary target become clear. Defending the U.S. Air Transportation System Against Chemical and Biological Threats is an exploration of defensive strategies that could be used to protect air transportation spaces (specifically, airport terminals and aircraft) against attack with chemical or biological agents and makes recommendations with respect to the role of TSA in implementing these strategies.