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Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032


The guiding document for the decadal survey is the Statement of Task. The Scope, Considerations, Approach, and Products outlined in the hyperlinks below are additional counsel for the committee and its staff while they carry out their work.

Statement of Task


The Space Studies Board shall establish a survey committee (the “committee”) to develop a comprehensive science and mission strategy for planetary science that updates and extends the Board’s current solar system exploration decadal survey, Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022 (2011).

The new decadal survey shall broadly canvas the field of space- and ground-based planetary science to determine the current state of knowledge and to identify the most important scientific questions to be addressed during the interval 2023-2032.

For the first time, this decadal survey will also study aspects of planetary defense, now that this activity is fully incorporated as an element of NASA’s planetary science endeavors. The survey will also take into account planned human space exploration activities.

In addition, the survey and report shall address relevant programmatic and implementation issues of interest to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Since the content and structure of the program portfolios of the two agencies are distinct from one another, implementation and investment recommendations specific to each agency should be elaborated in separate sections of the final report. This will ensure that the report’s investment guidance will be clearly addressed to the appropriate agency.

It is critically important that the recommendations of the Committee be achievable within the boundaries of anticipated funding. NASA and NSF will provide an up-to-date understanding of these limitations to the committee at the time of survey initiation.

The report should provide a clear exposition of the following:

  1. An overview of planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense—what they are, why they are compelling undertakings, and the relationship between space- and ground-based research;
  2. A broad survey of the current state of knowledge of the solar system;
  3. The most compelling science questions, goals and challenges which should motivate future strategy in planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense;
  4. A coherent and consistent traceability of recommended research and missions to objectives and goals;
  5. A comprehensive research strategy to advance the frontiers of planetary science, astrobiology and planetary defense during the period 2023-2032 that will include identifying, recommending, and ranking the highest priority research activities (research activities include any project, facility, experiment, mission, or research program of sufficient scope to be identified separately in the final report). For each activity, consideration should be given to the scientific case, international and private landscape, timing, cost category and cost risk, as well as technical readiness, technical risk, lifetime, and opportunities for partnerships. The strategy should be balanced, by considering large, medium, and small research activities for both ground and space;
  6. Recommendations for decision rules, where appropriate, for the comprehensive research strategy that can accommodate significant but reasonable deviations in the projected budget or changes in urgency precipitated by new discoveries or technological developments;
  7. An awareness of the science and space mission plans and priorities of NASA human space exploration programs and potential foreign and U.S. agency partners reflected in the comprehensive research strategy and identification of opportunities for cooperation, as appropriate;
  8. The opportunities for collaborative research that are relevant to science priorities between SMD’s four science divisions (for example, comparative planetology approaches to exoplanet or astrobiology research); between NASA SMD and the other NASA mission directorates; between NASA and the NSF; between NASA and other US government entities; between NASA and private sector organizations; between NASA and its international partners; and
  9. The state of the profession including issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility, the creation of safe workspaces, and recommended policies and practices to improve the state of the profession. Where possible, provide specific, actionable and practical recommendations to the agencies and community to address these areas.

General Information about the upcoming Planetary Science Decadal Survey


  1. What is a Decadal Survey
  2. Survey Goals
  3. Elements of a Survey Report
  4. Organizing Meeting
  5. Notional Schedule
  6. White Paper Specifications