Space Science and Technology
|Review of Goals and Plans for NASA's Space and Earth Sciences
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.
|Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars
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.
|Earth Science and Applications from SpaceUrgent Needs and Opportunities to Serve the Nation
The Earth is a dynamic planet whose changes and variations affect our communications, energy, health, food, housing, and transportation infrastructure. Understanding these changes requires a range of observations acquired from a variety of land-, sea-, air-, and space-based platforms. To assist NASA, NOAA, and the USGS develop these tools, the NRC was asked by these agencies to carry out a decadal strategy survey of Earth science and applications from space. In particular, the study is to develop the key scientific questions on which to focus Earth and environmental observations in the period 2005-2015, and a prioritized list of space programs, missions, and supporting activities to address these questions. This interim report outlines a key element of the study—the rationale for tying Earth observations to societal need—and identifies urgent near-term actions needed to achieve this goal. A final report, due in late 2006, will provide the list of recommended space missions, programs, and supporting.
|Navy's Needs in Space for Providing Future Capabilities
The United States must operate successfully in space to help assure its security and economic well being. The Department of the Navy is a major user of space capabilities, although those capabilities are now primarily provided by DOD, the Air Force, and NOAA. Following a DOD assessment of national space security management in 2001, the Navy commissioned a Panel to Review Space to assess Navy space policy and strategy. As an extension of that review, the NRC was requested by the Navy to examine its needs in space for providing future operational and technical capabilities. This report presents a discussion of the strategic framework of future space needs, the roles and responsibilities for meeting those needs, an assessment of Navy support to space mission areas, and a proposed vision for fulfilling Naval forces space needs.
|Science in NASA's Vision for Space Exploration
In January 2004, President Bush announced a new space policy directed at human and robotic exploration of space. The National Academies released a report at the same time that independently addressed many of the issues contained in the new policy. In June, the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy issued a report recommending 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. This report provides an initial response to those requests. It presents guiding principles for selecting science missions that enhance and support the exploration program. The report also presents findings and recommendations to help guide NASA’s space exploration strategic planning activity. Separate NRC reviews will be carried out of strategic roadmaps that NASA is developing to implement the policy.
|The Astrophysical Context of Life
In 1997, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) formed the National Astrobiology Institute to coordinate and fund research into the origins, distribution, and fate of life in the universe. A 2002 NRC study of that program, Life in the Universe: An Assessment of U.S. and International Programs in Astrobiology, raised a number of concerns about the Astrobiology program. In particular, it concluded that areas of astrophysics related to the astronomical environment in which life arose on earth were not well represented in the program. In response to that finding, the Space Studies Board requested the original study committee, the Committee on the Origins and Evolution of Life, to examine ways to augment and integrate astronomy and astrophysics into the Astrobiology program. This report presents the results of that study. It provides a review of the earlier report and related efforts, a detailed examination of the elements of the astrobiology program that would benefit from greater integration and augmentation of astronomy and astrophysics, and an assessment of ways to facilitate the integration of astronomy with other astrobiology disciplines.
|Principal-Investigator-Led Missions in the Space Sciences
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.
|Review of NASA Plans for the International Space Station
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.
|Extending the Effective Lifetimes of Earth Observing Research Missions
While NASA Earth Science missions are planned on the basis of a specified lifetime, often they are able to function beyond the end of that period. Until recently NASA had no formal mechanism for determining whether those missions should be extended or whether the resources necessary for the extension should be applied to new missions. In August 2004, when NASA merged Earth and space sciences, the agency began using the Science Review process to make those extension determinations. NASA had asked the NRC to assess extension review processes, and after the merger, this study focused on the Science Review process. This report presents an assessment of that process and provides recommendations for adapting it to Earth Science missions.
|Priorities in Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion
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.
|Government/Industry/Academic Relationships for Technology DevelopmentA Workshop Report
NASA’s Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) program within the Office of Space Flight has proposed a new framework for space technology and systems development—Advanced Systems, Technology, Research, and Analysis (ASTRA) for future space flight capabilities. To assist in the development of this framework, NASA asked the National Research Council to convene a series of workshops on technology policy issues concerning the relationship of the various stakeholders in advancing human and robotic exploration and development of space. The second workshop, which is the summarized in this report, focused on the interrelationship between government, industry, and academia in the development of technology. Examples from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation were covered in order to discuss best practices of such cooperative efforts as possible lessons for NASA’s space exploration activities.