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NASA Astronomy Science Centers: An Assessment of Best Practices and Guiding Principles for the Future

Project Scope

Click here to read this report.

A committee reviewed lessons learned from experience with NASA's ensemble of
space astronomy science centers and recommended a set of guiding principles
and best practices for consideration in making decisions about approaches to
meeting the needs of the astronomy community with future science centers.

The study will include the following tasks:
1. Conduct a comparative review of current astronomy science centers in terms
of the kinds of roles and services that they provide, their size (e.g. budget,
staff), the extent to which they utilize centralized or distributed approaches
to their architecture, the roles and status of their staff, the nature of their
host or governing institution, governance structure, how they were established
by NASA (e.g. sole source vs. competition).
2. Identify best practices and lessons learned from experience to date with
NASA astronomy science centers.
3. Assess the questions of whether there are optimum sizes or approaches for
science centers, and why or why not.

The study considered all aspects of the centers' service to the astronomy
community, including space mission operations planning, data processing and
archival, grants to observers and data users, science community communications
and advocacy.

The study is not intended to be a performance review of current centers, but
was expected to provide an assessment to serve decision-making with regard to
future centers.

This study was funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Committee Membership:

Dr. Steven R. Bohlen - (Chair)
Joint Oceanographic Institutions

Dr. Roger G. Barry
University of Colorado at Boulder

Mr. Stephen S. Holt
Babson College

Dr. Richard A. McCray
University of Colorado at Boulder

Dr. Alexander Sandor Szalay
Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Paula Szkody
University of Washington

Dr. Paul Adrian Vanden Bout
National Radio Astronomy Observatory


Brian Dewhurst, Study Director
Space Studies Board