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Phone: (202) 334-3477
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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

September 14-15, 2016 
Irvine, CA

**Please see updated agenda for new conference code. 9/14/16**
View Agenda I View Presentations

 March 29-31, 2016
Washington, DC
View Agenda
View Space Science Week Outline Agenda

September 16-17, 2015 
Irvine, CA
View Agenda| View Presentations

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

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
 View Full Space Science Week Agenda

May 23-25, 2012
Washington, DC

View Agenda | View Presentations

September 24-25, 2012
Irvine, CA
View Agenda | View Presentations                                                                                                       
Future Meeting Dates:
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)
Christopher H. House, Pennsylvania State University (Co-Chair)
Sushil K. Atreya, University of Michigan
Richard P. Binzel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ronald Breaker (NAS), Yale University
John Clarke, Boston University
Geoffrey Collins, Wheaton College
Bethany Ehlmann, California Institute of Technology
Pascale Ehrenfreund, German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Kevin P. Hand, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Sarah M. Hörst, Johns Hopkins University
James F. Kasting, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen Mackwell, Lunar and Planetary Institute
William McKinnon, Washington University 
Norman Pace (NAS), University of Colorado Boulder
Gary Ruvkun (NAS/NAM), Massachusetts General Hospital
Mark P. Saunders, Independent Consultant
David J. Stevenson, California Institute of Technology
Sarah T. Stewart, University of California, Davis 
Elizabeth P. Turtle, Applied Physics Laboratory

View Member Bios


David H. Smith, Senior Program Officer
Andrea Rebholz, Program Coordinator
Mia Brown, Research Associate

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Past Meeting Presentations

We have posted only presentations which have been made available to us by the presenter.
(In Order of Agenda) 

September 14-15, 2016
Michael Meyer
Kevin McKeegan
William McKinnon
Martin Rahm
Vicky Hamilton-No Slides
Bob Pappalardo
Barry Goldstein

Alison Murray
Ashwin Vasavada-Permission Pending
Linda Spilker
Mary Voytek-No Slides
Robert Wham
Tim Lyons-No Slides

March 29-31, 2016

Phillip Christensen
Chris House
James Green
James Watzin
Penny Boston
Athena Coustenis
Caleb Scharf
Robert Pappalardo
Barry Goldstein
Alan Stern
Gerda Hornek
Carolyn Porco
Christopher Russell
Mary Voytek

September 16-17, 2015 
(In Order of Agenda) 
Michael New-permission pending
Michael Mumma-permission pending
View plenary session slides

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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