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Letters from Steve Squyres, Chair of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey

 

Dear Colleague:

This is the third newsletter to the community regarding SolarSystem2012, the planetary science decadal survey.  The key points in this newsletter are these:

 

 1. The steering group and all of the panels have been meeting, and work on the decadal survey is proceeding at a good pace.

 2. Nearly 200 white papers were received from the community, and assessment of those white papers has begun.

 3. The first set of mission candidate studies has been identified by the panels and approved by the steering group. More studies will be initiated once the white papers have been assessed.

 4. Decadal survey sessions are planned for the upcoming Fall AGU, LPSC, and AbSciCon meetings.

 5. More information is available on the SolarSystem2012 web site: 

 

 The schedule of steering group and panel meetings is well underway.  The first meeting of the steering group took place on July 6-8, and each of the panels has met at least once.  The full meeting schedule as it now stands is available from the SolarSystem2012 web site.  The web site also provides the agendas for each meeting, links to video archives of past meetings, and links to live webcasts of upcoming meetings.  

Near-term upcoming meetings are as follows:  Inner Planets Meeting 2, 26-28 October, Beckman Center, Irvine, California

Giant Planets Panel Meeting 2, 26-28 October, Beckman Center, Irvine, California

Primitive Bodies Panel Meeting 2, 28-30 October, Beckman Center, Irvine, California

Mars Panel Meeting 2, 4-6 November, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California

Steering Group Meeting 2, 16-18 November, Beckman Center, Irvine, California

 

 The most important activity for the steering group and all of the panels will be assessment of the white papers submitted by the planetary science community.  The response to the call for white papers was tremendous:  199 white papers were received, with a total of 4935 authors and endorsers.  This response represents an enormous amount of thought and effort by the community, and clearly shows your commitment to making the decadal survey process a success.

 The steering group and panels are now reading all of the white papers, and assigning actions to be taken regarding each.  In some cases, these actions may involve initiating studies of the ideas presented, or inviting white paper authors to future decadal survey meetings.  We expect the white papers to be very important in formulating the decadal plan, and the agendas for future steering group and panel meetings will be largely driven by the white paper inputs.

 All of the white papers that were received are posted on the SolarSystem2012 web site, where they can be downloaded and viewed.

 Prior to receiving the white papers, each panel met to identify a first set of candidate missions for study.  Mission candidate studies were then reviewed and approved by the steering group, and an organization (APL, Goddard, or JPL) was chosen to conduct each study.  These studies are just getting underway.  IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THESE ARE JUST THE FIRST SET OF MISSION CANDIDATE STUDIES, selected before the white papers were received.  There will be many more that have been motivated by the white papers once the white papers have been assessed.

 Six of the studies are of the type known as “Rapid Mission Architecture” studies.  These are high-level studies of overall mission architecture that we expect to take a few weeks.  The purpose of these studies is to explore the trade space for a mission candidate, and identify a “point design” for possible subsequent study in much greater depth.  The six Rapid Mission Architecture studies are:

 

 * Mercury lander mission (APL)

 * Venus near-surface mobile explorer mission (Goddard)

 * Mars 2018 skycrane capabilities study (JPL)

 * Uranus system mission (APL)

 * Neptune/Triton mission (JPL)

 * Enceladus flyby/sample return mission (JPL)  

 There are also two full mission studies.  These will be more time-consuming and labor-intensive, and are intended to take these mission concepts to the point where they are ready for a full independent cost estimate.  The two full mission studies are:

 

 * Mars trace gas orbiter mission (Goddard)

 * Titan lake mission (JPL)

 

 There is also one small study to be conducted by JPL that doesn't fit any of the above categories; this study will identify possible targets for Near Earth Object missions.

 In addition to the eight studies listed above, two mission concept studies have been identified that have already been done to a level of maturity such that an independent cost estimate should be possible.  Independent cost estimates for each of those will be performed as soon as the company performing the cost estimates is under contract.  Those two mission concepts are:

 

 * Mars trace gas orbiter mission studied to date by JPL

 * Comet surface sample return mission studied to date by APL.

 

 Note that undergoing an independent cost estimate is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a mission candidate to be included in the final SolarSystem2012 plan.  Again, I stress that most of the studies will be commissioned once the white papers have been assessed!

 Finally, we are continuing to organize a number of sessions at major scientific conferences where discussion of the decadal survey among the community will take place.  A “town hall” session took place at the DPS meeting in Puerto Rico, and was very well attended.  Several of the panels also held town hall workshops.  Future sessions are planned for Fall AGU, LPSC, and AbSciCon.

 As always, more details on all of this are available at the SolarSystem2012 web site: 

 We've still got a long way to go, but work on the decadal survey is now well underway. All of your hard work on the white papers is very much appreciated!

Best wishes,

 

Steve Squyres

SolarSystem2012 Chair

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Colleague:
This is the second newsletter to the community regarding the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. A great deal has happened since my first newsletter back in April.
The key points in this newsletter are these:


1. Candidates for the chairs and members of the five decadal survey panels have
been identified and under review for approval by the National Research Council.
2. The guidelines, schedule, and procedure for submitting white papers have been
finalized. The deadline is September 15th. Length limits have been imposed.
3. The schedule of upcoming steering committee and panel meetings has been
established.
4. We have put in place a mechanism for webcasting and archiving the webcasts
of all steering committee and panel meetings.
5. Decadal survey sessions are planned for the upcoming DPS and Fall AGU
meetings.
6. More information is available on the decadal survey web site:
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal2011.html
 

As most of you know, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey is organized by the National Research Council at the request of NASA and NSF. Its objective is to set clear priorities for solar system exploration for the coming decade. The decadal survey will involve the entire U.S. planetary science community, and will be led by six groups. There is a steering committee, chaired by me. The membership of the steering committee is provided on the decadal survey web site (link provided at the end of this newsletter).
 

There are also five panels (Inner Planets, Mars, Outer Planets, Outer Planet Satellites, and Primitive Bodies). Candidates to serve as the chairs and members of these panels have been identified, and are under review by the NRC. Once approved, their names will be provided in a subsequent newsletter. The decadal survey process depends heavily on white papers provided by the community. White papers on all topics of relevance to the survey are strongly encouraged. A complete description of the survey’s scope is provided by the Statement of Task available at the following web site: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/1SSEdecadal2011_SOT.pdf. Please note that white papers are welcome on topics specific to a single panel, and also on topics that cut across multiple panels. To facilitate document management we have devised the following submission guidelines for white papers:
 

* White papers may not be more than 7 pages in length, single spaced, including
all figures, tables, references and appendices. Papers can include web links to other
documents among the references.
* A cover page may be included (beyond the 7-page limit) that should include the
title of the white paper, the primary author’s name, phone number, institution, and email
address, and a list of co-authors with their respective institutions.
* Use a 12-pt font with 1-inch margins on all sides of the document.
* Papers in Microsoft Word (.doc), Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) formats will be
accepted. No other formats will be accepted.
* White paper file sizes should be as small as possible. White papers larger than
50 Mb in size cannot be accepted, and files much smaller than this are encouraged. For
file management purposes, please compress your figures as much as possible. You can
provide hyperlinks to higher resolution versions of illustrations if you wish.
* White papers can be submitted by navigating your browser to:
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/ssbsurvey/. We will only accept white papers
submitted by means of this web-based system. Submissions must be made before 11:59
p.m. EDT, Tuesday, September 15, 2009. Questions on the process can be submitted to
planetary_decadal@nas.edu. Any white papers submitted to that email address will
be returned and you will be directed to the decadal survey web site.
As I noted in my last newsletter, multiple authorship that accurately reflects a consensus
among many individuals is strongly encouraged. Everyone in the planetary science
community is encouraged to author white papers; the only exception is the decadal
survey panel chairs and steering committee members.
In order to help everyone in the community know what white papers are being prepared,
the Lunar and Planetary Institute has developed a web site where anyone can state their
intention to organize a white paper. Feel free to use this site to let your colleagues know
what you are doing! The url for the site is: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/decadal/.
All white papers received by the NRC will be posted online where they can be
downloaded and viewed freely.
We have developed a schedule of upcoming meetings for the steering committee and all
the panels, as follows:
Steering Group Meeting 1 6-8 July National Academies’ Keck Center Washington, D.C.
Satellites Panel Meeting 1 24-26 August National Academy of Sciences Washington, D.C.
Giant Planets Panel Meeting 1 24-26 August National Academy of Sciences Washington, D.C.
Inner Planets Panel Meeting 1 26-28 August National Academy of Sciences Washington, D.C.
Primitive Bodies Panel Meeting 1 9-11 September National Academy of Sciences Washington, D.C.
Mars Panel Meeting 1 9-11 September Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona
Satellites Panel Meeting 2 21-23 September National Academies’ Beckman Center Irvine, California
Inner Planets Meeting 2 26-28 October National Academies’ Beckman Center Irvine, California
Giant Planets Panel Meeting 2 26-28 October National Academies’ Beckman Center Irvine, California
Primitive Bodies Panel Meeting 2 28-30 October National Academies’ Beckman Center Irvine, California
Mars Panel Meeting 2 4-6 November California Institute of Technology Pasadena, California
Steering Group Meeting 2 16-18 November National Academies’ Beckman Center Irvine, California
Steering Group Meeting 3 22-24 February Location to be determined Arizona or California
Giant Planets Panel Meeting 3 4-6 May Location to be determined Massachusetts
Steering Group Meeting 4 25-27 May Location to be determined Washington, D.C.
 

The remaining panel meetings will be scheduled at a later date. In order to keep the community fully informed about decadal survey activities, we are
attempting to webcast all of these meetings, and to archive all of the webcasts online. Links to each webcast will be provided on the decadal survey web site. Links to an archive of the first steering committee meeting are available at: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal_webcasts.html and a summary of the
meeting, including links to presentation materials, is available at: http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/pages/images/stories/Planetary_Science_Decadal_Meeting_1_Summary.pdf.
 

I would like to thank the NASA Astrobiology Institute and SpacePolicyOnline.com for
their generous help in webcasting and archiving our meetings.
 

Finally, we are also organizing a number of sessions at major scientific conferences
where discussion of the decadal survey among the community will take place. One of
these will be a “town hall” session at the upcoming DPS meeting in Puerto Rico.
 

Another will be a session at the Fall AGU:
http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm09/program/scientific_session_search.php?show=detail
&sessid=558. Abstract submissions for this AGU session are strongly encouraged.
As always, more details on all of this are available at the decadal survey web site:
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal2011.html.
 

I’ve observed over the past few months that our community is coming together with a
very substantial set of inputs to the decadal survey process, and I look forward to
continuing to work with all of you to merge those inputs into a consensus program that
has the community's full support.
 

Best wishes,
Steve Squyres
2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey Chair

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Colleague:


This is the first of what will be a regular series of newsletters to the community regarding the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. We all get too much email, so I'll try to keep these concise!
The key points in this newsletter are these:
1) The decadal survey will establish the priorities for planetary exploration in the U.S. for the coming decade.
2) The process is just getting started, and will take place over the next two years.
3) The goal is to formulate a plan for planetary exploration that truly represents the consensus view of the science community.
4) Community input to the decadal survey via participation in Town Hall meetings and generation of written white papers is strongly encouraged and in fact is necessary for the success of the survey. White papers should be submitted no later than September of this year.
5) More information is available at
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal2011.html
---
As most of you know, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey is organized by the National Research Council at the request of NASA and NSF. Its objective is to set clear priorities for solar system exploration for the coming decade. Congress and the Office of Management and Budget highly value the decadal survey process for establishing the science priorities in various NASA fields. The astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey is also now underway, and the political leadership -- i.e., the people who control the funding-- are familiar with this process and want it to be used for solar system exploration as well.
The distinguishing characteristic of the decadal survey process is that it is based on broad input from the science community. The goal is to establish a true community consensus regarding the key science questions for the next decade, and the suite of missions that should address them.
To describe NASA's view of the decadal survey, I've asked Jim Green, the Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, and Doug McCuistion, the Director of the Mars Exploration Program, to write a few words.
1
From Jim:
We are at the beginning of the development of the Planetary Science Decadal Survey that will chart our course for the next 10 years. If you are asked to be on one of the survey panels, I encourage you to accept. If you are not on a panel, please check the schedule for when and where the panel you are interested in will meet and plan to attend and participate. What makes the decadal a powerful document is the strong science focus and commitment by the community to follow it. It is the guide we use at NASA Headquarters, the current Administration and Congress. It is that important!
From Doug:
This decadal survey may be the most important one in decades for Mars exploration. I hope each of you will consider how to assist, advise and support the decadal team to create a successful and implementable approach to continue Mars scientific discovery. Jump in, take the opportunity to participate when asked, or volunteer. These proceedings will shape your Mars Program for at least the next 10 years, and I hope you will all engage to the fullest extent possible!
As Jim and Doug's comments make clear, the decadal survey is the process by which NASA's goals for exploring the solar system will be established for the coming decade.
The process will start from the science, summarizing the current state of knowledge in planetary science and identifying the key outstanding science questions. We will then address what mix of mission sizes (e.g., Discovery, New Frontiers, Flagship) would best address those questions, and generate a prioritized list of New Frontiers and Flagship missions for the coming decade. Missions to Mars and the Moon will be considered on an equal basis with all others. We will also consider a range of other topics, including NSF-funded infrastructure for planetary science, research and analysis activities, and technology development.
This decadal survey will differ from previous ones in that much greater emphasis will be placed on evaluating the technical maturity and probable costs of candidate missions. The goal is to produce a clearly prioritized list of missions that can be flown in the coming decade within the available budget. We will strive to avoid creating an oversubscribed plan!
The decadal survey will involve the entire U.S. planetary science community, and will be led by six groups. There will be a steering committee, chaired by me. Larry Soderblom of the USGS is the vice-chair of the steering committee. There will also be five panels, on the following topics:
Inner planets (Mercury, Venus, the Moon), Mars, Outer planets (including magnetospheres and rings), Outer planet satellites, Primitive bodies (asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects).
2
Each panel will have a chair and a vice-chair; the panel vice-chairs will all serve on the steering committee. Total membership of the steering committee will be about 15, and total membership of each panel will be about 11.
This panel structure was arrived at after considerable thought, and consideration of a number of alternatives. Strong practical considerations regarding budget, schedule and logistics dictate that the number of panels be minimized. In the end, it was decided to use a panel structure that mimicked the one used for the last decadal survey. This has the considerable advantage of allowing each panel to use the work done by the equivalent panel from last time as a starting point. The primary difference from last time is that ten years ago astrobiology was segregated from the rest of the survey in a sixth panel. This time, astrobiology will be fully integrated into the five-panel structure, with astrobiologists as appropriate on each of the panels.
Over the next couple of months, membership for the steering committee and panels will be established. This is a careful process, conducted by the NRC and aimed at establishing a distinguished membership with the appropriate balance among scientific disciplines, institutional affiliations, gender, and so forth. The panels will do most of their work in the second half of 2009. 2010 will be devoted to studying and costing mission concepts, establishing priorities, and writing the report. The final report will be released in the first quarter of 2011.
The primary job of all the decadal survey groups will be to actively engage the entire US planetary science community in the process. We will do this via a variety of mechanisms.
We will hold a number of Town Hall meetings at major science conferences, at community gatherings like meetings of the standing Analysis Groups (LEAG, VEXAG, MEPAG, OPAG), in conjunction with panel and steering committee meetings, and in other settings. Your participation in these sessions is strongly encouraged.
We will also solicit white papers from the community. These written inputs are a key part of the survey process, and white papers on any topic of relevance to the survey are strongly encouraged. A good white paper should be very concise, with strongly-reasoned arguments. Because the goal of the decadal survey is to build community consensus, it will be particularly effective for white papers to have many co-authors. We need to receive white papers no later than September of this year, so a good time to get started writing them is now.
Finally, we will try to make the activities of the steering committee and panels as transparent to the community as possible. For example, we hope to conduct live webcasts of the open sessions of all steering committee and panel meetings.
There's much more that I could write, but in the interest of brevity I'm going to save more details for future newsletters. If you'd like more information now, or if you'd like to volunteer to serve on one of the panels, go to:
3
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal2011.html
This web site includes the formal statement of task for the decadal survey, a presentation about the survey that I recently gave at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, and instructions for how to volunteer. We will soon add a "Frequently Asked Questions" section and information about how to submit white papers to the site.
The Planetary Science Decadal Survey is the process by which the US program of solar system exploration for the coming decade will be established. Its effectiveness is derived directly from the broad community participation that characterizes it. I look forward to working with all of you in the months ahead.
Best wishes,
Steve Squyres
2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey Chair
4

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

1
Dear Colleague:
This is the first of what will be a regular series of newsletters to the astrobiology
community regarding the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. We all get too
much email, so I’ll try to keep these concise!
The key points in this newsletter are these:
1) The decadal survey will establish the priorities for planetary exploration in the
U.S. for the coming decade.
2) Astrobiology is a major crosscutting theme of NASA’s planetary science
activities and a central facet of the survey’s scientific scope.
3) The process is just getting started, and will continue for the next two years.
4) The goal is to formulate a plan for planetary exploration that truly represents
the consensus view of the science community.
5) Community input to the decadal survey via participation in town hall meetings
and generation of written white papers is strongly encouraged and in fact is necessary for
the success of the survey.
6) More information is available at the URL given at the end of this letter
As most of you know, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey is organized by the
National Research Council at the request of NASA and NSF. Its objective is to set clear
priorities for solar system exploration for the coming decade. Congress and the Office of
Management and Budget highly value the decadal survey process for establishing the
science priorities in various NASA disciplines. The astronomy and astrophysics decadal
survey is also now underway, and the political leadership—i.e., the people who control
the funding—are familiar with this process and want it to be used for solar system
exploration as well.
The distinguishing characteristic of the decadal survey process is that it is based
on broad input from the science community. The goal is to establish a true community
consensus regarding the key science questions for the next decade, and the suite of
missions that should address them.
To describe NASA’s view of the decadal survey, I’ve asked Jim Green, the
Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division (the division within which the
Astrobiology Program resides), Mary Voytek, the Interim Senior Scientist for
Astrobiology at NASA Headquarters, and Carl Pilcher, Director of the NASA
Astrobiology Institute to write a few words.
From Jim:
We are at the beginning of the development of the Planetary Science Decadal
Survey that will chart our course for the next 10 years. If you are asked to be on one of
the survey panels, I encourage you to accept. If you are not on a panel, please check the
schedule for when and where the panel you are interested in will meet and plan to attend
and participate. What makes the decadal a powerful document is the strong science
focus and commitment by the community to follow it. It is the guide we use at NASA
Headquarters, the current Administration and Congress. It is that important!
Deleted:
2
From Mary:
The NRC Planetary Science Decadal Survey has begun and it is important for the
Survey to hear from the many voices of the Astrobiology community. Astrobiology is a
unifying, multidisciplinary endeavor that provides crucial insights into planetary
habitability, which has become a driving concept in NASA’s exploration of our Solar
System. The Survey is a unique opportunity for the research community to participate in
establishing science and mission priorities for the next decade. I and my colleagues with
the NASA Astrobiology Program urge you to take full advantage of all opportunities to
participate in the decadal survey process.
From Carl:
Astrobiology is central to solar system exploration, and provides some of the most
compelling questions motivating planetary science missions. Articulating these
connections for the Planetary Science Decadal Survey is a key responsibility of the
astrobiology community. The NAI places very high priority on supporting the community
and the Survey Committee in developing the astrobiology content of the survey.
As these comments make clear, the decadal survey is the process by which
NASA’s goals for exploring the solar system will be established for the coming decade.
The process will start from the science, summarizing the current state of
knowledge in planetary science and identifying the key outstanding science questions.
We will then address what mix of mission sizes (e.g., Discovery, New Frontiers,
Flagship) would best address those questions, and generate a prioritized list of New
Frontiers and Flagship missions for the coming decade. Missions to Mars and the Moon
will be considered on an equal basis with all others. We will also consider a range of
other topics, including NSF-funded infrastructure for planetary science, research and
analysis activities, and technology development.
This decadal survey will differ from previous ones in that much greater emphasis
will be placed on evaluating the technical maturity and probable costs of candidate
missions. The goal is to produce a clearly prioritized list of missions that can be flown in
the coming decade within the available budget. We will strive to avoid creating an
oversubscribed plan!
The decadal survey will involve the entire U.S. planetary science community, and
will be led by six groups. There will be a steering group, chaired by me. Larry
Soderblom of the USGS is the vice-chair of the steering group. There will also be five
panels, on the following topics:
• Inner planets—Mercury, Venus and the Moon;
• Mars;
• Outer planets—including magnetospheres and rings;
• Outer planet satellites, and
• Primitive bodies—including asteroids, comets and Kuiper belt objects.
Each panel will have a chair and a vice-chair; the panel vice-chairs will all serve
on the steering group. Total membership of the steering group will be about 16, and total
membership of each panel will be about 11.
3
This panel structure was arrived at after considerable thought, and consideration
of a number of alternatives. Strong practical considerations regarding budget, schedule
and logistics dictate that the number of panels be minimized. In the end, it was decided
to use a panel structure that mimicked the one used for the last decadal survey. This has
the considerable advantage of allowing each panel to use the work done by the equivalent
panel from last time as a starting point. The primary difference from last time is that
then, astrobiology was segregated from the rest of the survey in a sixth panel. This time,
astrobiology will be fully integrated into the five-panel structure, with astrobiologists, as
appropriate, on each panel and on the steering group.
Over the next couple of months, membership for the steering group and panels
will be established. This is a careful process, conducted by the NRC and aimed at
establishing a distinguished membership with the appropriate balance among scientific
disciplines, institutional affiliations, gender, and so forth. The panels will do most of
their work in the second half of 2009. 2010 will be devoted to studying and costing
mission concepts, establishing priorities, and writing the report. The final report will be
released in the first quarter of 2011.
The primary job of all the decadal survey groups will be to actively engage the
entire US planetary science community in the process. We will do this via a variety of
mechanisms.
We will hold a number of town hall meetings at major science conferences, at
community gatherings like meetings of the standing Analysis Groups (LEAG, VEXAG,
MEPAG, OPAG, SBAG), in conjunction with panel and steering committee meetings,
and in other settings. Your participation in these sessions is strongly encouraged.
We will also solicit white papers from the community. These written inputs are a
key part of the survey process, and white papers on any topic of relevance to the survey
are strongly encouraged. A good white paper should be very concise, with stronglyreasoned
arguments. Because the goal of the decadal survey is to build community
consensus, it will be particularly effective for white papers to have many co-authors. We
need to receive white papers no later than September of this year, so a good time to get
started writing them is now.
Finally, we will try to make the activities of the steering committee and panels as
transparent to the community as possible. For example, we hope to conduct live
webcasts of the open sessions of all steering committee and panel meetings.
There's much more that I could write, but in the interest of brevity I'm going to
save more details for future newsletters. If you'd like more information now, or if you'd
like to volunteer to serve on one of the panels, go to:
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/SSEdecadal2011.html
This web site includes the formal statement of task for the decadal survey, a
presentation about the survey that I recently gave at the Lunar and Planetary Science
Conference, and instructions for how to volunteer. We will soon add a “Frequently
Asked Questions” section and information about how to submit white papers to the site.
The Planetary Science Decadal Survey is the process by which the US program of
solar system exploration for the coming decade will be established. Its effectiveness is
4
derived directly from the broad community participation that characterizes it. I look
forward to working with all of you in the months ahead.
Best wishes,
Steve Squyres
2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey Chair

 

 


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