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book coverSpace Studies Board Annual Report 2008   (SSB)
Released 2009-05-06

book coverAn Enabling Foundation for NASA's Earth and Space Science Missions   (SSB)
Released 2010-02-25

NASA's space and Earth science program is composed of two principal components: spaceflight projects and mission-enabling activities. Most of the budget of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is applied to spaceflight missions, but NASA identifies nearly one quarter of the SMD budget as "mission enabling." The principal mission-enabling activities, which traditionally encompass much of NASA's research and analysis (R&A) programs, include support for basic research, theory, modeling, and data analysis; suborbital payloads and flights and complementary ground-based programs; advanced technology development; and advanced mission and instrumentation concept studies. While the R&A program is essential to the development and support of NASA's diverse set of space and Earth science missions, defining and articulating an appropriate scale for mission-enabling activities have posed a challenge throughout NASA's history. This volume identifies the appropriate roles for mission-enabling activities and metrics for assessing their effectiveness. Furthermore, the book evaluates how, from a strategic perspective, decisions should be made about balance between mission-related and mission-enabling elements of the overall program as well as balance between various elements within the mission-enabling component. Collectively, these efforts will help SMD to make a good program even better.

Report in Brief
book coverNear-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation StrategiesInterim Report   (ASEB ,SSB)
Released 2009-12-30

The United States is currently the only country with an active, government-sponsored effort to detect and track potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs). Congress has mandated that NASA detect and track 90 percent of NEOs that are 1 kilometer in diameter or larger. These objects represent a great potential hazard to life on Earth and could cause global destruction. NASA is close to accomplishing this goal. Congress has more recently mandated that by 2020 NASA should detect and track 90 percent of NEOs that are 140 meters in diameter or larger, a category of objects that is generally recognized to represent a very significant threat to life on Earth if they strike in or near urban areas. Achieving this goal may require the building of one or more additional observatories, possibly including a space-based observatory. Congress directed NASA to ask the National Research Council to review NASA's near-Earth object programs. This interim report addresses some of the issues associated with the survey and detection of NEOs. The final report will contain findings and recommendations for survey and detection, characterization, and mitigation of near-Earth objects based on an integrated assessment of the problem.

book coverAmerica's Future in SpaceAligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2009-09-16

As civil space policies and programs have evolved, the geopolitical environment has changed dramatically. Although the U.S. space program was originally driven in large part by competition with the Soviet Union, the nation now finds itself in a post-Cold War world in which many nations have established, or are aspiring to develop, independent space capabilities. Furthermore discoveries from developments in the first 50 years of the space age have led to an explosion of scientific and engineering knowledge and practical applications of space technology. The private sector has also been developing, fielding, and expanding the commercial use of space-based technology and systems. Recognizing the new national and international context for space activities, America's Future in Space is meant to advise the nation on key goals and critical issues in 21st century U.S. civil space policy.

book coverApproaches to Future Space Cooperation and Competition in a Globalizing WorldSummary of a Workshop   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2009-06-23

Numerous countries and regions now have very active space programs, and the number is increasing. These maturing capabilities around the world create a plethora of potential partners for cooperative space endeavors, while at the same time heightening competitiveness in the international space arena. This book summarizes a public workshop held in November 2008 for the purpose of reviewing past and present cooperation, coordination, and competition mechanisms for space and Earth science research and space exploration; identifying significant lessons learned; and discussing how those lessons could best be applied in the future, particularly in the areas of cooperation and collaboration. Presentations and initial discussion focused on past and present experiences in international cooperation and competition to identify "lessons learned." Those lessons learned were then used as the starting point for subsequent discussions on the most effective ways for structuring future cooperation or coordination in space and Earth science research and space exploration. The goal of the workshop was not to develop a specific model for future cooperation or coordination, but rather to explore the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches and stimulate further deliberation on this important topic.

book coverAssessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Mars Sample Return Missions   (SSB)
Released 2009-05-06

NASA maintains a planetary protection policy to avoid the forward biological contamination of other worlds by terrestrial organisms, and back biological contamination of Earth from the return of extraterrestrial materials by spaceflight missions. Forward-contamination issues related to Mars missions were addressed in a 2006 National Research Council (NRC) book, Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars. However, it has been more than 10 years since back-contamination issues were last examined. Driven by a renewed interest in Mars sample return missions, this book reviews, updates, and replaces the planetary protection conclusions and recommendations contained in the NRC's 1997 report Mars Sample Return: Issues and Recommendations. The specific issues addressed in this book include the following: The potential for living entities to be included in samples returned from Mars; Scientific investigations that should be conducted to reduce uncertainty in the above assessment; The potential for large-scale effects on Earth's environment by any returned entity released to the environment; Criteria for intentional sample release, taking note of current and anticipated regulatory frameworks; and The status of technological measures that could be taken on a mission to prevent the inadvertent release of a returned sample into Earth's biosphere.

book coverSevere Space Weather EventsUnderstanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report   (SSB)
Released 2008-12-17

The adverse effects of extreme space weather on modern technology--power grid outages, high-frequency communication blackouts, spacecraft anomalies--are well known and well documented, and the physical processes underlying space weather are also generally well understood. Less well documented and understood, however, are the potential economic and societal impacts of the disruption of critical technological systems by severe space weather. As a first step toward determining the socioeconomic impacts of extreme space weather events and addressing the questions of space weather risk assessment and management, a public workshop was held in May 2008. The workshop brought together representatives of industry, the government, and academia to consider both direct and collateral effects of severe space weather events, the current state of the space weather services infrastructure in the United States, the needs of users of space weather data and services, and the ramifications of future technological developments for contemporary society's vulnerability to space weather. The workshop concluded with a discussion of un- or underexplored topics that would yield the greatest benefits in space weather risk management.