NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
The Space Studies Board is a unit of the National Research Council, which serves as an independent advisor to the federal government on scientific and technical questions of national importance. The National Research Council, jointly administered by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, brings the resources of the entire scientific and technical community to bear through its volunteer advisory committees.
Support for the work of the Space Studies Board and its committees was provided by National Aeronautics and Space Administration contracts NNH06CE15B, NNH10CC48B, and NNH11CD57B; by National Science Foundation grants AGS-1050550, AST-1050744, and AGS-1106426; and by U.S. Geological Survey grant G11AP20217.
Front cover: A “self-portrait” of NASA’s Curiosity rover—a photo mosaic of raw images taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager, the camera on the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm, which accounts for the foreground camera distortion (available at http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16457), courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/ MSSS. Back cover: Valles Marineris, created from data captured during 20 individual orbits of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express (available at http://spaceinimages.esa.int/Images/2012/10/Valles_Marineris), courtesy of ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).
There is pervasive uncertainty about the long-range direction of the federal funding for science. The recent budgetary turmoil and a succession of continuing resolutions have given Congress little opportunity to express its goals for space science and exploration in tangible form, yet never before has congressional action been more critical to America’s leadership in space than now. It is not just the Congress; a kind of policy miasma is in the air; neither those who give advice nor those who receive it have a clear grasp of what the future holds. This reality was underscored for NASA in the recently released report NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus (NRC, 2012). The report, carried out under the auspices of the SSB’s parent Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS) but organized by SSB and ASEB staff, concluded that: “There is no national consensus on strategic goals and objectives for NASA. Absent such a consensus, NASA cannot reasonably be expected to develop enduring strategic priorities for the purpose of resource allocation and planning.”
NASA’s human spaceflight enterprise is presently in the midst of a profound transition that will take a decade or more to settle out. We can only see dimly what the next phase of human space exploration will be. The absence of settled direction for human space flight and the public clarity that goes with it is bound to unsettle those planning the future of space science and exploration at NASA, including the Space Studies Board.
The 2010 NASA Authorization Act asked the NRC to review the long-term goals, core capabilities, and direction of U.S. human spaceflight activities and to make recommendations that enable a sustainable U.S. human spaceflight program. The study commenced on August 1, 2012; the committee met once in 2012 and is making good progress as we begin 2013. A number of activities were carried out earlier under a separate initiation task led by SSB and ASEB staff: outreach, collection of research materials, and the identification of skillsets, knowledge and perspectives critical to the study. NRC staff had an extensive series of wide-ranging discussions across the spectrum of disciplines represented in the National Academies family, as well as with the NASA community, the international community, and with members of the space community.
Human spaceflight involves technical, sociological, political—even philosophical—issues that extend beyond the remits of the SSB and ASEB. Accordingly, it is being carried out at the NRC level, and the committee members represent an unusually large range of disciplines, backgrounds, and life experiences. The committee will solicit
broadly based, but directed, public and stakeholder input to understand better the motivations, goals, and possible evolution of human spaceflight. It will identify a set of high-priority enduring questions that describe the rationale for and value of human exploration in a national and international context. The recommendations will describe a high-level strategic approach to ensuring the sustainable pursuit of national goals enabled by human space exploration, answering enduring questions, and delivering value to the nation.
Closer to home, between 2010 and 2012, the NRC completed four decadal surveys—in astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, solar and space physics (heliophysics), and life and physical sciences in space. The SSB also completed a decadal midterm review on Earth sciences and applications from space. For the four decadal surveys, the study process started by identifying the most important scientific goals for the coming decade. The study teams sought the views of their disciplinary communities by soliciting hundreds of white papers and conducting dozens of town hall meetings. The four decadal survey teams included experienced managers and engineers, as well as scientists, and the three space science surveys made independent estimates of cost and technical risk so as to make financially responsible recommendations. Taken together, these may comprise the most complete characterization of the state of the space sciences ever achieved. Yet, when the surveys arrived on NASA’s doorstep, NASA could not implement recommendations whose scope it could have dealt with when the surveys commenced their work.
In such circumstances—unprecedented in our experience—the Space Studies Board has been pre-occupied with how to create advice that preserves essential scientific priorities yet remains resilient to budgetary instability and changes in policy direction. We have progressed along two paths—to strengthen the role of the SSB’s standing committees in responding to unanticipated change and to start shaping a future approach by consulting the views of a broad stakeholder community in a “lessons learned” workshop.
How can the SSB shape the next round of decadal surveys to be resilient to unanticipated change? This was a central question motivating the “lessons learned” workshop convened by the SSB and Board on Physics and Astronomy on November 12-13, 2012. Some 150 participants from the domestic and international Earth and space science communities debated all aspects of the decadal review process: how the community reviews its past achievements; how it characterizes its present status and identifies future opportunities; how scientific ideas are shaped and reshaped by committee debate into “placeholder” mission and program concepts; how technical challenges are identified and conservative costs estimated; how cost and technical evaluations influence scientific choices and the committee process; how the survey committees interact with NASA and the scientific community during the study phase; what role international and interagency collaborations play in defining program options; and, permeating all, how to cope with policy fluctuations and budgetary uncertainty.
The workshop was notable for bringing together many different stakeholders and fostering interactions amongst groups and individuals who might not otherwise get an opportunity to talk to one another. Yet, beyond all the constructive suggestions, the most important thing was something we did not hear: the SSB should not do another decadal survey. We heard instead that decadal surveys are the SSB’s most important product and that they are unequivocally worth the great effort.
During the 2 years that the Space Studies Board was managing the three space science decadal surveys, each of the Board’s standing committees temporarily stood down while their respective surveys were being undertaken. However, the standing committees are the way the Board keeps track of ongoing programmatic changes, and they are positioned to provide feedback to NASA on those changes. For 2 years, NASA’s program managers in the Science Mission Division (SMD) had diminished contact with the SSB, and the productive three-way communication channel among SMD’s program offices, the NASA Advisory Council’s space science discipline committees, and SSB’s standing committees was not active. However, in 2012 the SSB implemented a restructuring plan for the standing committees that had the support of both NASA and the NRC. Three of the four reconstituted standing committees met at least once during 2012, and on March 6-8, 2013, they will meet together in joint and overlapping sessions in Washington, D.C. We hope this is the beginning of an NRC “Space Science Week” tradition, when the space science community gets together to review the past year’s accomplishments and to discuss emerging scientific opportunities. Henceforth, the standing committees will meet face-to-face twice—once independently and once during Space Science Week—as well as meeting electronically. We hope that other stakeholders in the space science enterprise will choose come to Space Science Week and take the opportunity to visit with NASA, the Administration, and Congress at the same time.
As always, the Space Studies Board relies on the volunteer efforts of its distinguished and very busy members, and we owe them thanks. In particular, we would like to thank those members who rotated off in 2012, Steven J. Battel (Battel Engineering), Jack D. Fellows (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), James
A. Pawelczyk (Pennsylvania State University), and Warren M. Washington (National Center for Atmospheric Research), and welcome the new members, James G. Anderson (Harvard University), James P. Bagian (University of Michigan), Thomas R. Gavin (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Joseph S. Hezir (EOP Group Inc.) and Meenakshi Wadhwa (Arizona State University), who joined the Board in 2012. None of the volunteer efforts of the SSB members would amount to anything were it not for SSB’s highly professional staff. As chair, I have found that they have given me as up-to-date and insightful view of today’s ever-changing space policy issues as I am going to get, and I thank them, not only for their hard work, but even more for the insights they bring to their work. The SSB worked fruitfully with our NASA liaison, Marc Allen, and we are appreciative. Finally, an excellent staff requires a farsighted director: Michael Moloney is remolding the Space Studies Board to suit a complex, uncertain, and exciting future.
I have the sad duty to report the passing of SSB member Robert P. Lin of the University of California at Berkeley. He will be missed. As is said of many but is true for only a few, “He was a gentlemen and a scholar.” Our condolences go to his family, friends, and colleagues. In addition to his active participation in many Board activities, Bob also served as the U.S. representative to and vice president of COSPAR, the only truly global space organization. I am delighted that my predecessor as Board chair, Len Fisk, has consented to complete Bob’s term as U.S. representative.
Charles F. Kennel
Space Studies Board
Robert P. Lin: 1942-2012 COSPAR Vice President and Pioneering Space Scientist
Robert Lin—a member of the Space Studies Board (SSB), the vice president of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council for Science, and a pioneer in the field of high-energy space physics—collapsed after suffering a stroke in his laboratory at the University of California, Berkley, on November 16, 2012. He died with his wife at his side the following day. On hearing this sad news, COSPAR Executive Director Jean-Louis Fellous commented, “His passing away is and will be felt as a great loss within our space research community. Bob Lin’s memory will remain with us as an example of wisdom and dedication to science and international cooperation.” Bob Lin succeeded Edward C. Stone as U.S. Representative to COSPAR on July 1, 2010, and a few weeks later, he was elected to one of COSPAR’s dual vice presidencies at the 38th Scientific Assembly in Bremen, Germany.
Robert P. Lin on the occasion of his retirement as director of the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Courtesy of Peg Skorpinski.
Robert Peichung Lin was born in Kwangsi, in southern China, on January 24, 1942. He left China with his parents at a young age and, after a brief sojourn in London, England, eventually moved to the United States and settled in Michigan. He completed his undergraduate studies in physics at the California Institute of Technology in 1962. For his graduate studies, he moved on to the Department of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley.
At Berkeley, Bob became a protégé of pioneering space physicist Kinsey Anderson. The latter was the principal investigator of the Ion Chamber and G.-M. Counters experiment on NASA’s Interplanetary Monitoring Platform 3 (IMP 3, also known as Explorer 28). The direction of Bob’s graduate studies and a primary focus of his future research career became apparent in 1966 when he and Anderson reported that high-energy electrons detected by IMP 3 were associated with a solar flare. This discovery lead to the publication of Bob’s first two scientific papers: “Observations on the Propagation of Solar Flare Electrons in Interplanetary Space” in Physical Review Letters and “Evidence for Connection of Geomagnetic Tail Lines to the Interplanetary Field” in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Both papers were coauthored with Anderson. The discovery also formed the basis of Bob’s 1967 doctoral dissertation, “Observations of Solar Flare Electrons in Interplanetary Space."
After receiving his doctorate, Bob maintained his association with Berkley and, in particular, the university’s Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) for the rest of his career. Over the next 30 years he ascended through the ranks of
the SSL hierarchy from assistant research physicist (1967) to associate director (1992). In 1998, he became director of the SSL and retained the directorship until his retirement in 2008. In addition to his various positions at the SSL, Bob also held professorships in Berkeley’s physics and astronomy departments.
Bob’s research topics were diverse. He defied easy categorization into one of the traditional space science disciplines. His interests included supernovae, solar flares, magnetic fields on the surface of the Moon and Mars, and the geospace environment. Thus, his interests encompassed astrophysics, solar physics, planetary science, and space physics. However, a common theme linking many of his research activities was that of how particles are accelerated to high energies in cosmic environments.
During his long association with the SSL, Bob was actively involved with numerous spacecraft missions, including IMP 4, 5, and 6; Explorer 33 and 35; the lunar subsatellites deployed by Apollo 15 and 16; International Sun-Earth Explorer 1, 2, and 3; Wind, Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS); Mars Global Surveyor and Lunar Prospector; and Giotto and Cluster.
Bob’s greatest achievement was probably the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI), a spacecraft for which he was the principal investigator. This Small Explorer mission was launched in 2002 to investigate the basic physical processes responsible for particle acceleration and the explosive release of energy during solar flares.
Robert P. Lin (right) and David Curtis (left) indicate the location of the Electron Reflectometer (ER) on the Lunar Prospector spacecraft. Lin was the principal investigator of the ER and Curtis was the project engineer. Courtesy of Peg Skorpinski.
Even after retiring as director of SSL, Bob remained an active researcher. He was deeply involved in the development of new spacecraft and balloon missions at the time of his death. His innovative modular microsatellite known as Cubesat for Ions, Neutrals, Electrons, and Magnetic fields (CINEMA) was launched on September 13, 2012. His new instrument, the Focusing Optics X ray Solar Imager (FOXSI) was successfully tested on a balloon flight on November 2, 2012. Finally, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatiles Evolution (MAVEN) mission, for which he served as the deputy principal investigator, is scheduled to launch later this year.
Bob participated in numerous National Research Council activities during his long career. In addition to being a member of the SSB and the U.S. Representative to COSPAR, he also chaired the 2008 Arctowski Medal Selection Committee. He also served as a member of the Committee on Solar and Space Physics (1995-1997), the Science Panel of the Review of NASA Strategic Roadmaps (2005), the Panel on Solar and Space Physics of the Committee on Priorities for Space Science Enabled by Nuclear Power and Propulsion (2004-2006), the Committee on Cost Growth in NASA Earth and Space Science Missions (2009), the Committee on NASA’s Suborbital Research Capabilities (2009-2010), the Panel on Solar and Heliospheric Physics of the Committee on a Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics (2010-2012), and the Planning Committee on Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space: A Workshop (2012).
Bob received many honors and awards during his long and distinguished career. He was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2006. His election citation reads: “Lin is a world-renowned experimentalist in space science. Through numerous, innovative instruments that have flown on NASA missions, he has revealed the behavior of electrons and ions accelerated by the Sun, and detected the accompanying x-ray and gamma-ray emissions.” He was also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Geophysical Union. He was a recipient of COSPAR-Chinese Academy of Sciences Jeoujang Jaw Award and the George Ellery Hale Prize of American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division. He received a Docteur Honoris Causa de l’Universite de Toulouse in France.
Bob is survived by his wife, Lily Lin of Berkley, California, and his stepson, Linus Sun, of New York, New York. The SSL is establishing a graduate scholarship in his honor.
David H. Smith, Executive Secretary
U.S. National Committee for COSPAR
NOTE: This is a slightly modified version of an item appearing in the April 2013 issue of Space Research Today. It is reproduced here courtesy of COSPAR.
SPACE STUDIES BOARD CHAIRS
Lloyd V. Berkner (deceased), 1958-1962
Harry H. Hess (deceased), 1962-1969
Charles H. Townes, 1970-1973
Richard M. Goody, 1974-1976
A.G.W. Cameron (deceased), 1977-1981
Thomas M. Donahue (deceased), 1982-1988
Louis J. Lanzerotti, 1989-1994
Claude R. Canizares, 1994-2000
John H. McElroy (deceased), 2000-2003
Lennard A. Fisk, 2003-2008
Charles F. Kennel, 2008-
SPACE STUDIES BOARD VICE CHAIRS
George A. Paulikas, 2003-2006
A. Thomas Young, 2006-2010
John M. Klineberg, 2011-