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book coverAdvancing Aeronautical SafetyA Review of NASA's Aviation Safety-Related Research Programs   (ASEB)
Released 2010-09-29

Advancing the state of aviation safety is a central mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Congress requested this review of NASA's aviation safety-related research programs, seeking an assessment of whether the programs have well-defined, prioritized, and appropriate research objectives; whether resources have been allocated appropriately among these objectives; whether the programs are well coordinated with the safety research programs of the Federal Aviation Administration; and whether suitable mechanisms are in place for transitioning the research results into operational technologies and procedures and certification activities in a timely manner. Advancing Aeronautical Safety contains findings and recommendations with respect to each of the main aspects of the review sought by Congress. These findings indicate that NASA's aeronautics research enterprise has made, and continues to make, valuable contributions to aviation system safety but it is falling short and needs improvement in some key respects.

book coverCapabilities for the FutureAn Assessment of NASA Laboratories for Basic Research   (SSB ,LAB ,ASEB)
Released 2010-05-13

Over the past 5 years or more, there has been a steady and significant decrease in NASA's laboratory capabilities, including equipment, maintenance, and facility upgrades. This adversely affects the support of NASA's scientists, who rely on these capabilities, as well as NASA's ability to make the basic scientific and technical contributions that others depend on for programs of national importance. The fundamental research community at NASA has been severely impacted by the budget reductions that are responsible for this decrease in laboratory capabilities, and as a result NASA's ability to support even NASA's future goals is in serious jeopardy.

book coverDefending Planet EarthNear-Earth-Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2010-06-21

The United States spends approximately $4 million each year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs). The objective is to detect those that may collide with Earth. The majority of this funding supports the operation of several observatories that scan the sky searching for NEOs. This, however, is insufficient in detecting the majority of NEOs that may present a tangible threat to humanity. A significantly smaller amount of funding supports ways to protect the Earth from such a potential collision or "mitigation." In 2005, a Congressional mandate called for NASA to detect 90 percent of NEOs with diameters of 140 meters of greater by 2020. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies identifies the need for detection of objects as small as 30 to 50 meters as these can be highly destructive. The book explores four main types of mitigation including civil defense, "slow push" or "pull" methods, kinetic impactors and nuclear explosions. It also asserts that responding effectively to hazards posed by NEOs requires national and international cooperation. Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies is a useful guide for scientists, astronomers, policy makers and engineers.