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Committee on NASA Science Mission Extensions


View the Report


Statement of Task

The NRC will convene an ad hoc committee to conduct an assessment of the scientific value of extended missions in the overall program of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD). The committee’s report will provide recommended guidelines for future NASA decision-making about such mission extensions. In conducting this study, the committee could address the following questions:

1. Historically, what have been the scientific benefits of mission extensions? How important are these benefits (for example, benefits that might only accrue during the extended mission phase but not earlier)?

2. What is the current SMD Senior Review process for extending missions--for example, how are reviews chartered and conducted, by whom, and using what criteria? What should be division dependent and what should be uniform across the Directorate?

3. The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 requires biennial Senior Reviews for each mission extension. Is this biennial time period optimal for all divisions? Would a longer or shorter time period between reviews be advantageous in some cases?

4. Does the balance currently struck between starting new missions and extending operating missions provide the best science return within NASA's budget? That is, how much of an acceleration of new mission initiation could realistically be achieved by reallocating resources from mission extensions to new programs, compared to the corresponding scientific loss from terminated or diminished mission extensions?

5. Are there innovative cost reduction approaches that could increase the science cost-effectiveness of extended missions? Are there any general principles that might be applied across the board or to all of the missions for an individual science theme or a particular class? Are there alternative mission management approaches (e.g., transfer to an outside technical or educational institution for training or other purposes) that could reduce mission costs during extended operations and continue to serve SMD's science objectives?


Committee Meetings

February 1-2, 2016, Washington, DC
View Agenda I View Presentations

March 2-4, 2016, Irvine, CA
View agenda I View Presentations


April 18-20, 2016, Washington, DC
View Agenda I View Presentations


Committee Members
View Bios

Victoria E. Hamilton (Co-Chair)
Southwest Research Institute

Harvey D. Tananbaum (Co-Chair)
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Alice Bowman
Johns Hopkins University

John R. Casani
Jet Propulsion Laboratory - Retired

James H. Clemmons
The Aerospace Corporation

Neil Gehrels
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Fiona A. Harrison
California Institute of Technology

Michael D. King
University of Colorado Boulder

Margaret G. Kivelson
University of California, Los Angeles

Ramon E. Lopez
The University of Texas at Arlington

Amy Mainzer
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Alfred S. McEwen
University of Arizona

Deborah Vane
Jet Propulsion Laboratory 


Dwayne Day

Study Director

Mia Brown
Research Associate

Anesia Wilks
Senior Program Assistant



*Below is an archive list of names and a link to the slides presented at the committee meeting during open session. We have only included the slides for which the presenter has given consent to post.


February 1-2, 2016
John Grunsfeld
Jim Green
Paul Hertz
Michael Freilich
Steven Clark
Vanessa Griffen -No slides
Jeff Bingham -No slides
David Goldston -No slides
Chris Shank -No slides
Pamela Whitney -No slides
M. Fabio Favata -No Slides
Art Poland


March 2-3, 2016
Clive Neal -Permission pending
Andy Boden-Permission pending
Rebecca Oppenheimer
Guosheng Liu-Permission pending
Nathan Schwardron-Permission pending
Christopher Martin-Permission pending
Chuck Scott
Ed Stone-Permission pending
Kurt Thome-Permission pending
Byron Tapley-Permission pending
Tom Woods
Linda Spilker-Permission pending
Tom Soifr-Permission pending

April 18-20, 2016
Charles Holmes-No Slides
No presentations have been made available from this meeting for posting.

* No slides indicate that the presenter did not utilize slides during their presentation.

* Permission pending indicates that the presenter has not given us consent to publish the slides they presented at the meeting.

*Written materials submitted to a study committee by external sources are listed in the project's public access file and can be made available to the public upon request via the Academies Public Access Records Office.