Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 11:57:01 -0600
Subject: DPS Mailing #04-29: Message from the Chair, Membership Renewals...
Greetings, DPS Colleagues,
1) Important Message from the Chair
2) Membership Renewals
3) Nominating Subcommittee Members
4) Prize Subcommittee Members
5) Icarus for DPS Members
6) No enews until December 6
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ALL DPS MEMBERS
The following is a letter from Ghassem Asrar (NASA Chief
Exploration Scientist and Deputy Associate Administrator Science
Mission Directorate) that was sent out on the NASA email exploder
on November 5, but which may not have reached everyone. NASA is
undergoing a massive internal reorganization to align itself with
the "Vision for Space Exploration." Part of this process is the
formation of 13 separate Strategic Roadmap committees. The letter
from Asrar, however, is targeted at revising the 2005 ROSS, and
clearly aims to start some new, interdisciplinary research programs
that connect (among all the earth and space sciences) planetary
research and the myriad vision goals. The fate of the existing
R&A programs is not known, but whatever one's view of NASA's
transformation, it is in the interest of the planetary
community to submit white papers, and many of them. The best
should be broad, aimed at fundamental scientific questions, and
designed to capture as much of our existing scientific activities
as possible. While there is obvious uncertainty and danger in all
of this, there is also much opportunity, for planetary science has
a unique and compelling role in the Vision.
Recently NASA has begun the transformation of its Earth and
space science programs by combining them into an integrated
Science Mission Directorate. The new Directorate will be
closely involved in the Vision for Space Exploration through its
support of science that both enables, and is enabled by, NASA's
exploration activities. More information on the Vision for
Space Exploration may be found at
We are seeking input from the science community in developing a
set of research focus areas for interdisciplinary scientific
investigations in support of the Vision for Space Exploration.
We seek your suggestions on how to develop interdisciplinary lines
of scientific inquiry that could connect the goals of the Vision
for Space Exploration to ongoing, but more narrowly focused,
scientific activities within Earth system science, planetary
sciences, astrophysics, and solar physics. We will include such
interdisciplinary research focus areas in our January 2005 omnibus
solicitation for research and analysis, with proposals due in
mid-2005, although we recognize that reaching closure on this
topic may require additional time and thought. We will also
hold a pre-proposal workshop in Spring 2005 to discuss
exploration-related interdisciplinary research focus areas.
One specific goal of the Vision for Space Exploration is the
scientific investigation of the Earth, Moon, Mars and beyond
with emphasis on understanding the history of the solar system,
searching for evidence of habitats for life on Mars, and
preparing for future human exploration. We seek your input on
establishing interdisciplinary scientific research focus areas
that promote our understanding of the formation of diverse
terrestrial planets (with atmospheres) in our solar system, as
well as those beyond. One example might be collisional
processes. How have collisional processes played a role at
differing time and spatial scales within our solar system in
creating such a diverse and yet related set of terrestrial
planets, with unique atmospheres? Could the diversity of
terrestrial planets be purely a product of stochastic processes?
What shaped the biological systems on Earth during the last few
billion years of planetary history?
A second example might be markers available for study on other
planetary bodies (including, but not limited to, the Moon and
Mars) that may provide information about the evolutionary
history of that body in the context of how it is affected by
its broader environment. Are there Martian analogs to terrestrial
ice cores that may provide insight into the prior climate of
the Martian system? Are there markers in dust on the Moon?
And, to the extent there are surfaces on other solar system
bodies like Europa, what signals may be buried in there? How
might such variations get transmitted through the planetary
environment and frozen in time?
Another goal of the Vision for Space Exploration is the
conduct of advanced telescopic searches for Earth-like planets
and habitable environments around other stars. We seek your
input on establishing interdisciplinary scientific research
focus areas with the goal of developing effective astronomically
detectable signatures of biological processes. One example might
be the definition of such biosignatures. Can the study of the Earth
as a system identify atmospheric biosignatures that can distinguish
Earth-like (and potentially habitable) planets around nearby stars?
Can an understanding of the origin of life, and the time evolution
of our own atmosphere on Earth reveal likely signatures of life on
extrasolar planets? What are the most effective search strategies
for detecting atmospheric biosignatures on planets orbiting
distant stars of various properties?
A third goal of the Vision for Space Exploration is to explore
the solar system for scientific purposes and to support human
exploration in order to ultimately establish a sustained
"presence" throughout the solar system. We seek your input
on establishing interdisciplinary scientific research focus
areas in order to develop diagnostic and predictive methods
and models for assessing the state and conditions of the
interplanetary medium in support of safe human travel and a
sustained presence by both robots and humans. One example
might be the fundamental physical mechanisms that cause
large-scale coronal mass ejections from the Sun and exert a
profound influence on the interplanetary medium. NASA is
exploring various observational vantage points via robotic
spacecraft to increase knowledge in this arena (e.g. STEREO,
Solar Dynamics Observatory, perhaps Solar Probe). Such mass
ejections produce a large flux of solar proton events of
potentially lethal consequence to improperly shielded human
flight systems, as well as some types of robotic systems.
What interdisciplinary research focus areas involving
fundamental physics, modeling, and observations could lead
to improved systems engineering decision-making?
In addition to using your input to develop a solicitation
for scientific research and analysis, we intend to hold a
pre-proposal workshop at a suitable time in early 2005 to
continue this dialogue. Through your input in response to
this letter, through the dialogues that are developed at
the 2005 and subsequent workshops, and through the research
investigations that are selected in response to a
solicitation, a full suite of interdisciplinary science
activities can be included within the agenda of the Vision
for Space Exploration.
Your input on the subject of interdisciplinary research focus
areas supporting the Vision for Space Exploration would be
most helpful if they are received by Friday, December 10, 2004.
Your input, in the form of a white paper of 2 pages or less,
should be sent to the address below. It would also be helpful
if you send an electronic copy of your white paper to the e-mail
address given below.
Thank you for your interest in NASA's science and exploration
Dr. Ghassem Asrar
Chief Exploration Scientist and
Deputy Associate Administrator
Science Mission Directorate
Address for hard-copy submission of white papers:
Dr. Ghassem Asrar
"Exploration Science White Papers"
Science Mission Directorate
Washington, DC 20546-0001
Address for electronic submission of white papers:
Subject line: "Exploration Science White Papers"
This letter is available online [PDF] at:
DPS/AAS membership renewals were mailed out by the AAS in early
October. If you have not received yours by now, please contact
the AAS at email@example.com to request a copy. Please note
that renewals also allow the opportunity for members to make a
donation to the Division if desired.
NOMINATING SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS
At the 2004 DPS business meeting, Andy Rivkin was elected to
the Nominating Subcommittee. The other members are
Rosaly Lopes-Gautier and S. J. (Bobby) Bus (chair). More
information about the work of the subcommittee is available on
the DPS web page: http://www.AAS.org/~dps/subcommittee.html
Suggestions for nominees for the 2005 elections can be sent to
Bobby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRIZE SUBCOMMITTEE MEMBERS
The current Prize Subcommittee consists of William Cochran (chair),
Reta Beebe, Heidi Hammel, M. A. Barucci, and Glen Stewart.
Suggestions for nominees for the Urey, Kuiper, Masursky, and
Sagan prizes can be sent to Bill at email@example.com.
The deadline for nominations for 2005 will be 1 March.
ICARUS FOR DPS MEMBERS FOR 2005
The special subscription rate of $99 for DPS Members will continue
for 2005. This rate includes both online and print editions.
The order form is available on the DPS website at
NO ENEWS UNTIL DECEMBER 6
I will be out of the country from November 22 until December 6, and
so there will be no regular enews sent out during that time.
Please do not send items until December 6. Should a timely notice
to the community become necessary, it may be sent to
Vice-Chair Richard French at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Linda French Emmons, DPS Secretary
send submissions to email@example.com
Submissions should be in text format (no attachments, please).