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
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.
Bill McKinnon
Dear Colleagues:
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
Suite 5E39-A
NASA Headquarters
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 to request a copy. Please note 
that renewals also allow the opportunity for members to make a 
donation to the Division if desired.
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:
Suggestions for nominees for the 2005 elections can be sent to 
Bobby at
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  
The deadline for nominations for 2005 will be 1 March.
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
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
Linda French Emmons, DPS Secretary
send submissions to 
Submissions should be in text format (no attachments, please).