Planetary Science Decadal Survey To Be Released March 7

Planetary Science Decadal Survey To Be Released March 7

The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Decadal Survey for planetary science will be released on March 7, 2011. The study was conducted under the auspices of the Space Studies Board.

Decadal Surveys are studies conducted by the NRC on behalf of NASA and other space science agencies. The NRC committees that write the reports use a consensus-based approach to determinig priorities for scientific research in various disciplines. The surveys are conducted about every 10 years — a decade — looking forward to the next decadal of research, hence their name. The most recent Decadal Survey for astronomy and astrophysics was released last year. The NRC is currently conducting another one for the field of solar and space physics (heliophysics).

The agencies that sponsor the Decadal Survey, in this case NASA and the National Science Foundation, typically tell the NRC’s study committee how much money they expect to be able to devote to new missions and research in the upcoming decade. The Decadal Survey committee then is asked to create and prioritize a list of research missions that need to be undertaken to answer the most compelling scientific questions in that discipline.

Prognosticating future budgets is always problematical, especially so today. The planetary science community has been expectantly awaiting the release of the Decadal to see what their community has determined to be the most compelling research priorities. The report will be released in conjunction with the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference being held in The Woodlands, TX, outside Houston, from March 7-11.

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