Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 10:41:59 -0600 (MDT)
Subject: DPS Mailing #01-16: A PLANETARY DECADAL STUDY

Greetings, DPS Members-



Solar System Exploration Survey Committee Formed

The National Research Council's Committee on Planetary and Lunar Exploration
(COMPLEX) met from January 29-31, 2001 in Tucson, Arizona to begin the
organization of a major activity, "A New Strategy for Solar System
Exploration."  The objectives of the study are to identify the:

        - Key science questions expected to occupy the planetary-science
          community for the decade 2003-2013;
        - Outline the initiatives, missions, and other supporting activities
          needed to address those questions; and
        - Recommend priorities.

The scope of the study is broad and not limited to space-based programs.
Moreover, it is expected that the report's science and mission priorities will
form the foundation for the construction of the next solar system exploration

This study and a companion activity to determine science and mission
priorities for the fields of solar and space physics were requested by
Dr. Edward Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Space
Science.  Both of these studies will be analogous to the decadal surveys
regularly conducted by the astronomy and astrophysics communities.

The study will be undertaken by a 13-member, ad-hoc Solar System Exploration
Survey Committee, under the direction of Dr. Michael Belton, National Optical
Astronomy Observatories, retired.  The Survey Committee will be assisted by
subsidiary study panels, which are tasked with producing reports in the
following subject areas:

        - Inner Planets - Mercury, Venus, and Earth-Moon system;
        - Primitive Bodies including comets, asteroids, Pluto-Charon,
          Kuiper Belt, and other small bodies;
        - Giant Planets - the interiors, atmospheres, rings and
          magnetospheres of the gas giants; and
        - Large Satellites - principally Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto
          and Titan.

Now that its role as the organizing committee for the new study is completed,
COMPLEX will devote its full attention to the completion of a separate task
requested by NASA - a study concerning Mars science and mission priorities.
To avoid duplication of effort and to ensure evenhanded treatment,
COMPLEX will act as the Survey Committee's fifth panel.  Appointments to
the Survey Committee and the Panels will be made by the leadership of the
National Research Council in late-April and early-May.  The vice-chairs of
each panel will serve on the Survey Committee.  The remaining members of
the Survey Committee will act as the foci for cross-panel activities relating
to topics such as, planetary astronomy, astrobiology, space physics, and
theoretical studies.  The priorities and recommendations contained in the
five panel reports, together with the deliberations of cross-panel groups
will be integrated into a single report.  This document will set global
science and mission priorities, and will be published as an NRC-approved
report in the second half of 2002.

A number of different outreach activities are planned to ensure the
widest-possible involvement of all interested communities in the study.
These include community forums that will be held in conjunction with
major community activities.  Those interested in hosting such an event are
encouraged to contact the Survey Committee's Study Director, Dr. David
H.Smith, at


                      Nick Schneider, on behalf of the DPS Committee
                      (submissions to Al Harris: