Space Science and Technology
|Sharing the Adventure with the PublicThe Value and Excitement of 'Grand Questions' of Space Science and Exploration: Summary of a Workshop
On November 8-10, 2010, the National Research Council's Space Studies Board (SSB) held a public workshop on how NASA and its associated science and exploration communities communicate with the public about major NASA activities and programs. The concept and planning of the workshop developed over a period of two years. In conjunction with the SSB, the workshop planning committee identified five "Grand Questions" in space science and exploration around which the event was organized. As outlined in the summary, the workshop concluded with sessions on communicating space research and exploration to the public.
|Space Studies Board Annual Report 2010
The Space Studies Board (SSB) was established in 1958 to serve as the focus of the interests and responsibilities in space research for the National Academies. The SSB provides an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications, and it serves as the focal point within the National Academies for activities on space research. It oversees advisory studies and program assessments, facilitates international research coordination, and promotes communications on space science and science policy between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public. The SSB also serves as the U.S. National Committee for the International Council for Science Committee on Space Research (COSPAR).
This volume reviews the organization, activities, and reports of the SSB for the year 2010.
|Recapturing a Future for Space ExplorationLife and Physical Sciences Research for a New Era
More than four decades have passed since a human first set foot on the Moon. Great strides have been made in our understanding of what is required to support an enduring human presence in space, as evidenced by progressively more advanced orbiting human outposts, culminating in the current International Space Station (ISS). However, of the more than 500 humans who have so far ventured into space, most have gone only as far as near-Earth orbit, and none have traveled beyond the orbit of the Moon. Achieving humans' further progress into the solar system had proved far more difficult than imagined in the heady days of the Apollo missions, but the potential rewards remain substantial.
During its more than 50-year history, NASA's success in human space exploration has depended on the agency's ability to effectively address a wide range of biomedical, engineering, physical science, and related obstacles--an achievement made possible by NASA's strong and productive commitments to life and physical sciences research for human space exploration, and by its use of human space exploration infrastructures for scientific discovery. The Committee for the Decadal Survey of Biological and Physical Sciences acknowledges the many achievements of NASA, which are all the more remarkable given budgetary challenges and changing directions within the agency. In the past decade, however, a consequence of those challenges has been a life and physical sciences research program that was dramatically reduced in both scale and scope, with the result that the agency is poorly positioned to take full advantage of the scientific opportunities offered by the now fully equipped and staffed ISS laboratory, or to effectively pursue the scientific research needed to support the development of advanced human exploration capabilities.
Although its review has left it deeply concerned about the current state of NASA's life and physical sciences research, the Committee for the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space is nevertheless convinced that a focused science and engineering program can achieve successes that will bring the space community, the U.S. public, and policymakers to an understanding that we are ready for the next significant phase of human space exploration. The goal of this report is to lay out steps and develop a forward-looking portfolio of research that will provide the basis for recapturing the excitement and value of human spaceflight--thereby enabling the U.S. space program to deliver on new exploration initiatives that serve the nation, excite the public, and place the United States again at the forefront of space exploration for the global good.
|Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022
In recent years, planetary science has seen a tremendous growth in new knowledge. Deposits of water ice exist at the Moon's poles. Discoveries on the surface of Mars point to an early warm wet climate, and perhaps conditions under which life could have emerged. Liquid methane rain falls on Saturn's moon Titan, creating rivers, lakes, and geologic landscapes with uncanny resemblances to Earth's.
Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 surveys the current state of knowledge of the solar system and recommends a suite of planetary science flagship missions for the decade 2013-2022 that could provide a steady stream of important new discoveries about the solar system. Research priorities defined in the report were selected through a rigorous review that included input from five expert panels. NASA's highest priority large mission should be the Mars Astrobiology Explorer Cacher (MAX-C), a mission to Mars that could help determine whether the planet ever supported life and could also help answer questions about its geologic and climatic history. Other projects should include a mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa and its subsurface ocean, and the Uranus Orbiter and Probe mission to investigate that planet's interior structure, atmosphere, and composition. For medium-size missions, Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 recommends that NASA select two new missions to be included in its New Frontiers program, which explores the solar system with frequent, mid-size spacecraft missions. If NASA cannot stay within budget for any of these proposed flagship projects, it should focus on smaller, less expensive missions first.
Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 suggests that the National Science Foundation expand its funding for existing laboratories and establish new facilities as needed. It also recommends that the program enlist the participation of international partners. This report is a vital resource for government agencies supporting space science, the planetary science community, and the public.