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Space Science and Technology
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book coverLaunching Science:Science Opportunities Provided by NASA's Constellation System   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2009-02-12

In January 2004 NASA was given a new policy direction known as the Vision for Space Exploration. That plan, now renamed the United States Space Exploration Policy, called for sending human and robotic missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In 2005 NASA outlined how to conduct the first steps in implementing this policy and began the development of a new human-carrying spacecraft known as Orion, the lunar lander known as Altair, and the launch vehicles Ares I and Ares V. Collectively, these are called the Constellation System. In November 2007 NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to evaluate the potential for new science opportunities enabled by the Constellation System of rockets and spacecraft. The NRC committee evaluated a total of 17 mission concepts for future space science missions. Of those, the committee determined that 12 would benefit from the Constellation System and five would not. This book presents the committee's findings and recommendations, including cost estimates, a review of the technical feasibility of each mission, and identification of the missions most deserving of future study.

book coverEnsuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring   (SSB)
Released 2008-08-25

In 2000, the nation's next-generation National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program anticipated purchasing six satellites for $6.5 billion, with a first launch in 2008. By November 2005, however, it became apparent that NPOESS would overrun its cost estimates by at least 25 percent. In June 2006, the planned acquisition of six spacecraft was reduced to four, the launch of the first spacecraft was delayed until 2013, and several sensors were canceled or descoped in capability. Based on information gathered at a June 2007 workshop, "Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft," this book prioritizes capabilities, especially those related to climate research, that were lost or placed at risk following the 2006 changes. This book presents and recommends a prioritized, short-term strategy for recovery of crucial climate capabilities lost in the NPOESS and GOES-R program descopes. However, mitigation of these recent losses is only the first step in establishing a viable long-term climate strategy-one that builds on the lessons learned from the well-intentioned but poorly executed merger of the nation's weather and climate observation systems.

book coverScience Opportunities Enabled by NASA's Constellation System: Interim Report   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2008-05-08

To begin implementation of the Vision for Space Exploration (recently renamed "United States Space Exploration Policy"), NASA has begun development of new launch vehicles and a human-carrying spacecraft that are collectively called the Constellation System. In November 2007, NASA asked the NRC to evaluate the potential for the Constellation System to enable new space science opportunities. For this interim report, 11 existing "Vision Mission" studies of advanced space science mission concepts inspired by earlier NASA forward-looking studies were evaluated. The focus was to assess the concepts and group them into two categories: more-deserving or less deserving of future study. This report presents a description of the Constellation System and its opportunities for enabling new space science opportunities, and a systematic analysis of the 11 Vision Mission studies. For the final report, the NRC issued a request for information to the relevant communities to obtain ideas for other mission concepts that will be assessed by the study committee, and several issues addressed only briefly in the interim report will be explored more fully.

book coverUnited States Civil Space Policy: Summary of a Workshop   (SSB ,ASEB)
Released 2008-05-13

In 2004, the NRC released a workshop report about the future direction of the U.S. civil space program. At the same time, the Administration announced the Vision for Space Exploration, and in June 2004, it issued a report that articulated a balanced space program for human and robotic exploration and science. Subsequent NRC reports, however, have noted that NASA has not been given the resources to carry out this broad-based program. This challenge, along with others faced by the U.S. civil space program, stimulated the NRC to form an ad hoc committee to organize a second workshop, held in November 2007, to address the space program's future directions. The workshop's goal was to air a range of views and perspectives so as to inform discussions of these questions by policymakers and the public. This book presents a summary of the workshop.

book coverManaging Space Radiation Risk in the New Era of Space Exploration   (ASEB)
Released 2008-05-29

As part of the Vision for Space Exploration (VSE), NASA is planning for humans to revisit the Moon and someday go to Mars. An important consideration in this effort is protection against the exposure to space radiation. That radiation might result in severe long-term health consequences for astronauts on such missions if they are not adequately shielded. To help with these concerns, NASA asked the NRC to further the understanding of the risks of space radiation, to evaluate radiation shielding requirements, and recommend a strategic plan for developing appropriate mitigation capabilities. This book presents an assessment of current knowledge of the radiation environment; an examination of the effects of radiation on biological systems and mission equipment; an analysis of current plans for radiation protection; and a strategy for mitigating the risks to VSE astronauts.

book coverOpening New Frontiers in Space:Choices for the Next New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity   (SSB)
Released 2008-07-21

The New Frontiers Program was created by NASA in 2002 at the recommendation of the NRC's decadal survey for solar system research. In order to optimize solar system research, the NRC recommended a series of principal-investigator missions that encourage innovation and accomplish the main scientific objectives presented in the survey. Two of the five recommended missions have been selected and, as was also recommended in the survey, the NRC was asked in 2007 to provide criteria and guiding principles to NASA for determining the list of candidate missions. This book presents a review of eight missions: the three remaining from the original list of five from the survey plus five missions considered by the survey committee but which were not recommended. Included in the review of each mission is a discussion of relevant science and technology developments since the survey and set of recommended science goals.

book coverWorkshop Series on Issues in Space Science and Technology: Summary of Space and Earth Science Issues from the Workshop on U.S. Civil Space Policy   (SSB)
Released 2008-02-04

NASA has asked the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the NRC to examine issues related to space science and technology through a series of three workshops. The first of these was held in November 2007 in conjunction with another workshop being held jointly by the SSB and ASEB to assess U.S. civil space policy broadly. Some of the workshop sessions focused more than others on issues of interest to NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD). This book concentrates on those sessions and presents a summary of the views of the participants on the issues that are relevant to SMD. A separate book will be prepared on the full range of issues about U.S. civil space policy discussed at the workshop.