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book coverExploration of the Outer Heliosphere and the Local Interstellar MediumA Workshop Report   (SSB)
Released 2004-10-25

This report is the summary of a workshop held in May 2003 by the Space Studies Board's Committee on Solar and Space Physics to synthesize understanding of the physics of the outer heliosphere and the critical role played by the local interstellar medium (LISM) and to identify directions for the further exploration of this challenging environment.

book coverReview of Science Requirements for the Terrestrial Planet FinderLetter Report   (SSB ,BPA)
Released 0000-00-00

The NRC, in its 2000 report, Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium, ranked the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TFP) project third among major NASA missions and sixth overall in its research priority recommendations to NASA for the coming decade. In January 2004, NASA asked the NRC for an updated assessment of the TPF mission. In April 2004, NASA also announced its intention to proceed with both coronagrahic and interferometric planet finder missions (TPF-C and TPC-I) on an accelerated schedule. This letter report presents the findings of that updated assessment in light of NASA’s announcement. In it, the NRC concludes that the mission's goals are consistent with the 2000 report, but raises two primary concerns. First, the current schedule for TPF-C does not leave enough time for vital precursor missions, and second, proceeding with the TPF-C now would disrupt the scientific balance of NASA’s space science portfolio.

book coverSolar and Space Physics and Its Role in Space Exploration   (SSB)
Released 2004-10-11

In February 2004, the President announced a new goal for NASA; to use humans and robots together to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In response to this initiative, NASA has adopted new exploration goals that depend, in part, on solar physics research. These actions raised questions about how the research agenda recommended by the NRC in its 2002 report, The Sun to the Earth and Beyond, which did not reflect the new exploration goals, would be affected. As a result, NASA requested the NRC to review the role solar and space physics should play in support of the new goals. This report presents the results of that review. It considers solar and space physics both as aspects of scientific exploration and in support of enabling future exploration of the solar system. The report provides a series of recommendations about NASA's Sun-Earth Connections program to enable it to meet both of those goals.

book coverSetting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation   (COSEMPUP ,BPA)
Released 2004-06-15

In 1995, the National Science Foundation (NSF) created a special account to fund large (several tens of millions of dollars) research facilities. Over the years, these facilities have come to represent an increasingly prominent part of the nation’s R&D portfolio. Recently concern has intensified about the way NSF is selecting projects for this account. In 2003, six U.S. Senators including the chair and ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations expressed these concerns in a letter to the NRC asking it to “review the current prioritization process and report to us on how it can be improved.” This report presents a series of recommendations on how NSF can improve its priority setting process for large research facilities. While noting that NSF has improved this process, the report states that further strengthening is needed if NSF is to meet future demands for such projects.

book coverOpportunities in High Magnetic Field ScienceLetter Report   (BPA)
Released 2004-02-05

In recent years the field of high magnetic field science has become increasingly important to other disciplines, including biology. In 2002, the National Science Foundation concluded that there was a need for an assessment of the field in the United States to set the stage for future planning. Accordingly, it requested that the NRC assess the current state and future prospects for high-magnetic-field science and instrumentation in the United States. This letter report provides a status report of that study. The letter report offers a brief assessment of the current position of the United States in this field and lists a series of questions that will be addressed in the final report.

book coverSmaller FacilitiesLetter Report   (BPA)
Released 2004-03-26

The Committee on Smaller Facilities is review the current state of small and mid-sized facilities for materials research in the United States at the request of NSF and DOE. Such facilities play a major role in materials research, but they are widely considered to be less than optimally developed or used. To address this concern, the NRC was asked to assess these facilities to help determine ways to use them more effectively. This letter report presents key topics that the committee will explore in depth to carry out this assessment. In particular, the study will assess the characteristics of successful smaller facilities and challenges they face. Recommendations will be provided to enhance the effectiveness of such facilities in performing materials research.

book coverAssessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space TelescopeLetter Report   (ASEB ,SSB)
Released 2004-07-13

book coverPlasma Physics of the Local Cosmos   (SSB)
Released 2004-05-06

Solar and space physics is the study of solar system phenomena that occur in the plasma state. Examples include sunspots, the solar wind, planetary magnetospheres, radiation belts, and the aurora. While each is a distinct phenomenon, there are commonalities among them. To help define and systematize these universal aspects of the field of space physics, the National Research Council was asked by NASA’s Office of Space Science to provide a scientific assessment and strategy for the study of magnetized plasmas in the solar system. This report presents that assessment. It covers a number of important research goals for solar and space physics. The report is complementary to the NRC report, The Sun to the Earth—and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy for Solar and Space Physics, which presents priorities and strategies for future program activities.

book coverAssessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space TelescopeLetter Report   (ASEB ,SSB)
Released 2004-07-13