NASA's space and Earth science program is composed of two principal components: spaceflight projects and mission-enabling activities. Most of the budget of NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is applied to spaceflight missions, but NASA identifies nearly one quarter of the SMD budget as "mission enabling." The principal mission-enabling activities, which traditionally encompass much of NASA's research and analysis (R&A) programs, include support for basic research, theory, modeling, and data analysis; suborbital payloads and flights and complementary ground-based programs; advanced technology development; and advanced mission and instrumentation concept studies.
While the R&A program is essential to the development and support of NASA's diverse set of space and Earth science missions, defining and articulating an appropriate scale for mission-enabling activities have posed a challenge throughout NASA's history. This volume identifies the appropriate roles for mission-enabling activities and metrics for assessing their effectiveness. Furthermore, the book evaluates how, from a strategic perspective, decisions should be made about balance between mission-related and mission-enabling elements of the overall program as well as balance between various elements within the mission-enabling component. Collectively, these efforts will help SMD to make a good program even better.