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Phone: (202) 334-3477
Fax: (202) 334-3701

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Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science

Project Information


The overarching purpose of the committee is to support scientific progress in astrobiology and planetary science and assist the federal government in integrating and planning programs in these fields.

The CAPS scope spans space-based and supporting ground-based planetary research within our own solar system, including, for example, geosciences, atmospheres, particles and fields of planets, moons, and small bodies, as well as astrobiology, planetary astronomy, and planetary protection. The CAPS provides an independent, authoritative forum for identifying and discussing issues in astrobiology and planetary science between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public.

The CAPS will also monitor the progress in implementation of the recommendations of the Vision and Voyages (V&V) decadal survey--building on the survey that was tasked with canvassing the field of space- and ground-based planetary science to determine the current state of knowledge and then identify the most important scientific questions expected to face the community during the interval 2013-2022 and addressing relevant programmatic and implementation issues of interest to NASA and NSF--and the consequences to V&V and the research community of the changes in budget structure anticipated in the near future. The need for careful monitoring is underscored by the fact that some of the survey's recommendations are associated with a set of triggers and decision rules. Other developments that trigger the need for reassessment include cost growth and/or changes of scope in the project baseline.

In fulfilling these responsibilities, the committee may formulate and oversee ad-hoc studies related to the implementation of the V&V survey and on issues in astrobiology and planetary science more broadly, including.

  • The scientific quality and the potential for discovery in the field;
  • The scientific impact of a change in the technical design, cost estimate, schedule, or programmatic sequencing of one or more of the decadal survey recommended activities;
  • The impact of scientific advances on the technical design, schedule, or programmatic sequencing of one or more decadal survey recommended activities;
  • The impact of changing budget priorities, especially those that challenge the fundamental assumptions of V&V, on the implementation of decadal survey priorities and on planetary science research more broadly; and
  • The potential impact on a recommended course of action at a decision point described in the decadal survey.

The committee is pleased to acknowledge support from NASA for this activity.

Meetings and Events

March 31-April 2, 2015
Washington, DC
View Agenda | View Presentations
View the NRC Space Science Week Outline Agenda
March 29-31, 2016
Washington, DC

September 3-4, 2014
Irvine, CA
View Agenda | View Presentations

 March 3-5, 2014
Washington , DC
View Agenda | View Presentations
View Full Space Science Week Agenda
September 4-6, 2013
Washington, DC
View Agenda | View Presentations

March 6-8, 2013
Washington, DC
View AgendaView Presentations

May 23-25, 2012
Washington, DC

View Agenda | View Presentations

September 24-25, 2012
Irvine, CA
View Agenda | View Presentations                                                                                                       
Future Meeting Dates:
March 31-April 2, 2015 (Washington Dc) and September 16-17, 2015 ( Irvine, California)
March 29-31(Washington, D.C.) and  September 14-15, 2016 (Irvine, California)
March 28-30 (Washington, D.C.)  and September 13-14, 2017 (Irvine, California)
March 27-29 (Washington, D.C.) and September12-13,  2018 (Irvine, California)
March 26-28  (Washington, D.C.) and September 11-12,  2019 (Irvine, California)
March 31 - April 2 (Washington, D.C.) and September16-17,  2020 (Irvine, California)

Current Membership

Philip R. Christensen, Arizona State University (Co-Chair)
James Gregory Ferry, Pennsylvania State University (Co-Chair)
Sushil K. Atreya, University of Michigan
Amy C. Barr, Brown University
Richard P. Binzel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ronald Breaker, Yale University
John Clarke, Boston University
Geoffrey Collins, Wheaton College
Pascale Ehrenfreund, George Washington University
Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Carnegie Institution for Science
James A. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University
Laurie A. Leshin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Stephen Mackwell, Lunar and Planetary Institute
Norman Pace, University of Colorado Boulder
Gary Ruvkun, NAS, IOM Harvard Medical School
Mark P. Saunders, Independent Consultant
Gerald Schubert, NAS University of California, Los Angeles
Norman H. Sleep, NAS Stanford University
Cristina Takacs-Vesbach University of Mexico
Roger V. Yelle, University of Arizona

View Member Bios


David H. Smith, Senior Program Officer
Abigail Sheffer, Program Officer
Andrea Rebholz, Program Coordinator

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Past Meeting Presentations

We have posted only presentations which have been made available to us by the presenter.

September 3-4, 2014 (In order of agenda)
James Green (PSD Status)
James Green
May 23-25, 2012 (In order of agenda)
*This list of available presentations contains only those in which the presenter has agreed to permit its posting on this website.  If there are other presentations you hope to view, please send your request to for further information.
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