Opening New Frontiers in Space

Choices for the Next New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity

Committee on New Opportunities in Solar System Exploration: An Evaluation of the New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity

Space Studies Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences



Washington, D.C.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
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Committee on New Opportunities in Solar System Exploration: An Evaluation of the New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity Space Studies Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study is based on work supported by Contract NNH06CE15B between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agency that provided support for the project. Cover: Cover design by Timothy Warchocki. All images courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-11889-7 International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-11889-1 Copies of this report are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Wash- ington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, shar- ing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and rec- ognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad com- munity of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the gov- ernment, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

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OTHER REPORTS OF THE SPACE STUDIES BOARD Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System: Interim Report (SSB with the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board [ASEB], 2008) Space Science and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations: Summary of a Workshop (SSB, 2008) Workshop Series on Issues in Space Science and Technology: Summary of Space and Earth Science Issues from the Workshop on U.S. Civil Space Policy (SSB, 2008) Assessment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (2007) An Astrobiology Strategy for the Exploration of Mars (SSB with the Board on Life Sciences [BLS], 2007) Building a Better NASA Workforce: Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Explora- tion (SSB with ASEB, 2007) Decadal Science Strategy Surveys: Report of a Workshop (2007) Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond (2007) Exploring Organic Environments in the Solar System (SSB with the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technol- ogy, 2007) Grading NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program: A Midterm Review (2007) The Limits of Organic Life in Planetary Systems (SSB with BLS, 2007) NASA’s Beyond Einstein Program: An Architecture for Implementation (SSB with the Board on Physics and Astronomy [BPA], 2007) Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: A Workshop Report (2007) A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Astrophysics Program (SSB with BPA, 2007) Portals to the Universe: The NASA Astronomy Science Centers (2007) The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon (2007) An Assessment of Balance in NASA’s Science Programs (2006) Assessment of NASA’s Mars Architecture 2007-2016 (2006) Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Venus Missions: Letter Report (2006) Distributed Arrays of Small Instruments for Solar-Terrestrial Research: Report of a Workshop (2006) Issues Affecting the Future of the U.S. Space Science and Engineering Workforce: Interim Report (SSB with ASEB, 2006) Review of NASA’s 2006 Draft Science Plan: Letter Report (2006) The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon—Interim Report (2006) Space Radiation Hazards and the Vision for Space Exploration (2006) Limited copies of these reports are available free of charge from: Space Studies Board National Research Council The Keck Center of the National Academies 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3477/ NOTE: Listed according to year of approval for release, which in some cases precedes the year of publication. iv

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COMMITTEE ON NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN SOLAR SySTEM ExPLORATION: AN EvALUATION OF THE NEW FRONTIERS ANNOUNCEMENT OF OPPORTUNITy RETA BEEBE, New Mexico State University, Co-chair WARREN W. BUCK, University of Washington, Co-chair DOUGLAS P. BLANCHARD, NASA Johnson Space Center (retired) ROBERT D. BRAUN, Georgia Institute of Technology BERNARD F. BURKE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ALAN DELAMERE, Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation (retired) ROSALY M. LOPES, Jet Propulsion Laboratory STEPHEN MACKWELL, Lunar and Planetary Institute TIMOTHY J. McCOY, Smithsonian Institution RALPH McNUTT, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory SANDRA PIZZARELLO, Arizona State University GERALD SCHUBERT, University of California, Los Angeles DONNA L. SHIRLEY, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (retired) JOHN SPENCER, Southwest Research Institute ELIZABETH P. TURTLE, Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory Staff DWAYNE A. DAY, Study Director VICTORIA SWISHER, Research Associate CATHERINE A. GRUBER, Assistant Editor CELESTE A. NAYLOR, Senior Program Assistant v

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SPACE STUDIES BOARD LENNARD A. FISK, University of Michigan, Chair A. THOMAS YOUNG, Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired), Vice Chair DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado STEVEN J. BATTEL, Battel Engineering CHARLES L. BENNETT, Johns Hopkins University ELIZABETH R. CANTWELL, Los Alamos National Laboratory ALAN DRESSLER, The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution JACK D. FELLOWS, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research FIONA A. HARRISON, California Institute of Technology TAMARA E. JERNIGAN, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory KLAUS KEIL, University of Hawaii MOLLY MACAULEY, Resources for the Future BERRIEN MOORE III, University of New Hampshire KENNETH H. NEALSON, University of Southern California JAMES PAWELCZYK, Pennsylvania State University SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, University of California, Irvine RICHARD H. TRULY, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (retired) JOAN VERNIKOS, Thirdage LLC JOSEPH F. VEVERKA, Cornell University WARREN M. WASHINGTON, National Center for Atmospheric Research CHARLES E. WOODWARD, University of Minnesota GARY P. ZANK, University of California, Riverside MARCIA S. SMITH, Director vi

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Preface The New Frontiers Program was established at the recommendation of the 2003 NRC solar system explora- tion decadal survey, New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy.1 The decadal survey recommended five medium-size missions as options for the New Frontiers Program. NASA has initiated two mis- sions in the New Frontiers Program and plans to issue an announcement of opportunity in 2008 to enable teams led by a principal investigator to compete for the third New Frontiers mission. NASA asked the National Research Council (NRC) to provide criteria and guiding principles for determining the list of candidate missions for this new competition. The Committee on New Opportunities in Solar System Exploration: An Evaluation of the New Frontiers Announcement of Opportunity was formed to consider the following issues: • Should the next New Frontiers solicitation be completely open relative to any planetary mission, or should it state a candidate list of missions as was done in the previous announcement of opportunity (AO)? • If a candidate list of missions is preferred, what is the process by which candidate missions should be determined? Specifically, there is a need to review the mission categories identified in the previous AO and see if the list needs to be revised or augmented in light of developments since the release of the last AO. Should consid- eration be given to a candidate list of appropriate science themes from the NRC decadal survey on solar system exploration rather than to specific missions? Of the five medium-size missions recommended by the decadal survey as options for the New Frontiers Program, three remain to be implemented. In addition, the decadal survey listed five other medium-size missions that it did not specifically recommend for implementation. The committee sought to follow the guidance of the decadal survey in recommending principles for the next New Frontiers competition. Because of the current study’s limited time and expertise and the new developments in space science and technology, the committee engaged NASA’s solar system analysis groups and sought their input about science and technology developments and also their opinion of the New Frontiers Program. A list of speakers is included in Appendix A.2 Many of the presentations and input from these groups were placed on their public websites, and the committee found their assistance to be extremely useful. 1National Research Council, New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy, The National Academies Press, Wash- ington, D.C., 2003. 2 Note that in addition to the formal presentations by the analysis groups, the committee received written input from the groups. Much of this material is available on the groups’ respective websites. vii

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Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional stan- dards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Richard M. Amasino, University of Wisconsin, Scott Bolton, Southwest Research Institute, Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., Carnegie Institution of Washington, John Mustard, Brown University, Francis Nimmo, University of California, Santa Cruz, Emery Reeves, Independent Consultant, Norman H. Sleep, Stanford University, and Ann L. Sprague, University of Arizona. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University. Appointed by the NRC, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. viii

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Contents SUMMARY 1 1 OVERVIEW AND TOP-LEVEL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 6 Background, 6 New Frontiers Mission Options, 7 Lessons Learned from the Previous Competition, 7 Committee Findings and Recommendations, 9 Opportunities for New Science, 13 2 NEW FRONTIERS MISSION OPTIONS 15 South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return, 16 Venus In Situ Explorer, 20 Comet Surface Sample Return, 24 Network Science, 27 Trojan/Centaur Reconnaissance, 32 Asteroid Rover/Sample Return, 38 Io Observer, 43 Ganymede Observer, 49 Innovative Mission Options, 56 3 SUMMARY OF MISSION-SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS 58 South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return, 58 Venus In Situ Explorer, 59 Comet Surface Sample Return, 59 Network Science, 59 Trojan/Centaur Reconnaissance, 60 Asteroid Rover/Sample Return, 61 Io Observer, 61 Ganymede Observer, 62 ix

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x CONTENTS Innovative Mission Options, 62 Closing Comments, 62 APPENDIXES A Speakers Before the Committee 65 B Biographical Sketches of Committee Members and Staff 68