Date: Sat, 13 Jul 2002 09:07:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: DPS Mailing #02-20: Planetary Decadal Survey

Greetings DPS colleagues -

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       |1) PLANETARY DECADAL SURVEY RELEASED                     |
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PLANETARY DECADAL SURVEY RELEASED

The National Research Council has just released the Solar System 
Exploration Decadal Survey "New Frontiers in the Solar System: An 
Integrated Exploration Strategy".  The Survey reviews the current 
state of planetary science and exploration, and makes recommendations 
for investments in ground-based and space flight research for the next 
decade, 2003-2013. This is the first such NRC report for Solar System 
science and exploration after four decades of such reports for 
Astronomy and Astrophysics. The DPS was actively involved in the 
Survey, providing ad-hoc reports written by its members as input to 
the NRC Survey Panels. Everyone in the planetary science community has 
had the means and opportunity to provide their ideas in the process.  

The principal purpose of the Survey is to provide a set of priorities
for planetary missions and ground-based research for the next decade. 
There is a wealth of excellent ideas for science to address and 
missions to explore but a limited budget with which to execute them. 
The Solar System Exploration Decadal Survey process just concluded is 
the means to provide a science community driven consensus on which of 
these ideas and missions have the highest priority for the next decade. 
The power of decadal surveys, as demonstrated by forty years of Astronomy 
and Astrophysics Decadal Surveys, is that the Administration and Congress 
regard them as blueprints for the future and as having the imprimatur 
of the entire science community. To be as effective as the A&A Surveys, 
this Solar System Exploration Survey must have the full support of the 
planetary science community. The DPS Committee urges this support.  

The key overall recommendations for non-Mars planetary missions are 

1) maintenance of the Discovery program of low-cost (total mission cost
less than $325M) missions at a flight rate of one every 18 months, 

2) start of a New Frontiers line of medium-cost (less than $650M)
competitively procured missions to be implemented as in the Discovery
program, but selected from a prioritized list provided by the Survey,
with a flight rate of about one every 3 years, and 

3) one large-cost mission (greater than $650M) per decade.  

The recommended large-cost mission is the Europa Geophysical Explorer,
a version of the JPL Europa Orbiter concept.  The recommended
medium-cost New Frontiers missions are in priority order 1) KBO/Pluto
Explorer, 2) Lunar South Polar Aitken Basin Sample Return, 3) Jupiter
Polar Orbiter with Probes, 4) Venus In-Situ Explorer, and 5) Comet
Surface Sample Return.  The prioritized list of New Frontiers missions
includes more than three missions to provide flexibility for
technology and budgetary developments over the next ten years. In
addition to the Discovery program of low-cost missions, the Survey
recommends extension of the Cassini mission beyond its prime mission
termination in 2007. 

The Survey contains a separate set of prioritized recommendations for
the Mars Exploration Program.  After the launch of the Mars 
Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2005, there are two recommendations for the 
low-cost category of missions 1) a Mars Scout program of competitively 
procured missions implemented in the same manner as Discovery, with a 
flight rate of one Scout launch at every other Mars opportunity (one 
every 52 months) beginning in 2007, and 2) a Mars upper atmosphere 
orbiter. In the medium class category, the recommendations are for a 
Mars Smart Lander launch in 2009 and a Mars Long-lived Lander Network 
that could be implemented by international cooperation. The Survey 
recommends that these missions be implemented in a manner to build 
towards a Mars Sample Return mission early in the next decade. The 
Lunar South Polar Aitken Basin Sample Return mission should also be 
implemented in a manner to provide appropriate technological 
development for a Mars Sample Return. 

There are also recommendations on fundamental research and analysis 
including a gradual increase in grant programs, recommendations on 
mission data analysis, the Deep Space Network, and technology 
development with an endorsement of the nuclear power and propulsion 
technologies initiative, and recommendations on ground-based support 
programs including a recommendation to share development and operations 
of a Large Synoptic Survey Telescope with the NSF. Implementation of 
the recommendations in this Survey would provide for a broad, integrated 
program of scientific exploration throughout the Solar System and enable 
new scientific discoveries addressing some of the most compelling 
scientific questions in planetary science. Each of us needs to advocate 
its recommendations to our Representatives in the U.S. Congress and to 
the public who ultimately pay the bill. That is the challenge to every 
DPS member. The rewards will be enormous.  

The full report may be accessed at http://www.nationalacademies.org/ssb/

It is also posted at the community decadal website: 
http://www.aas.org/dps/decadal/

On behalf of the DPS Committee,

Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.
DPS Chair
huntress@gl.ciw.edu

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                               Melissa McGrath, DPS Secretary-Treasurer
                                      submissions to: mcgrath@stsci.edu