Space Science and Technology
|Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space ExplorationReport of a Workshop
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.
|Review of the Science Mission Directorate's (SMD's) Draft Science PlanLetter Report
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
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.
|Review of the Space Communications Program of NASA's Space Operations Mission Directorate
The Space Communications Office (SCO) at NASA has two primary roles. The first is to manage two of the communications networks that enable spaceflight operations and research, and the second is to integrate agency-wide telecommunications issues. In 2005, NASA asked the NRC to review the effectiveness of the SCO in carrying out its responsibilities by assessing the overall quality of the space communications program. This report presents a review of each of the program elements within the SCO—the space network, NASA’s integrated space network (NISN), spectrum management, standards management, search and rescue, communications and navigation architecture, technology, and operations integration. The review focuses on formulation of plans for each element, plan development methodology, connections with the broader community, and overall capabilities. Recommendations for improving SCO operations and organization are provided.
|An Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs
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.
|Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering WorkforceInterim Report
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.
|Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial ResearchReport of a Workshop
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.
|Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus MissionsLetter Report
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.