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The Human Exploration of Space Committee on Human Exploration Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1997
NOTICE: The projects that are the subject of this volume were 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 committees responsible for the three reports collected and reprinted in this volume were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distin- guished 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. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the Na- tional Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing 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 recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf 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. Kenneth I. Shine 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 community 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 government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this work was provided by Contract NASW 96013 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Cover: Mars mosaic image courtesy of Alfred McEwen of the U.S. Geological Survey, Flagstaff, Arizona. Lunar crescent image courtesy of Dennis di Cicco. Cover design by Penny Margolskee. Copies of this report are available from Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20418 Copyright 1997 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
Foreword During 1988, the National Research Council's Space Science Board reorga- nized itself to more effectively address NASA's advisory needs. The Board's scope was broadened: it was renamed the Space Studies Board and, among other new initiatives, the Committee on Human Exploration was created. The new committee was intended to focus on the scientific aspects of human exploration programs, rather than engineering issues. Early on, the committee recognized that an orderly review and clear statement of the role of science in human explo- ration should include, but distinguish between, science that must be conducted before human exploration beyond Earth's immediate environs could be practi- cally undertaken, and science that would be enabled or facilitated by human presence on other worlds. This approach led to two reports, Scientific Prerequi- sites for the Human Exploration of Space and Scientific Opportunities in the Human Exploration of Space, published in 1993 and 1994, respectively. While these studies were in progress, the value of a third study that would focus on issues of science management within a human exploration program was recog- nized; this third topic was taken up after the Opportunities report was completed, and was published this year as Science Management in the Human Exploration of Space. These three reports are collected and reprinted in this volume in their entirety as originally published. During the decade of existence of the Committee on Human Exploration, the prospects for human exploration have ebbed and flowed. On July 20, 1989, President George Bush announced that the United States should undertake "a sustained program of manned exploration of the solar system." Timed to com- memorate the 20th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, this announcement formalized a deep aspiration that has suffused space enthusiasts . . .
iv FOREWORD and professionals since the very beginning of the rocket era in this century and motivated the formation of the Board's Committee on Human Exploration and its studies. Cost estimates for interplanetary travel proved very discouraging, how- ever, and NASA's human flight capabilities were soon focused on the space station program. But the goal of flight beyond the Earth-Moon system has never entirely faded and has remained the subject of dreams and long-range studies at a low level. The present series of reports, eight years in the making from the initial formation of the committee, seems to have been paced exactly right: the subject of human exploration of Mars is coming increasingly to the fore. Significant progress has been made in many scientific areas during this period; for example, in 1996 the Board enlarged on a key topic in the committee's first report with a detailed survey of research required in the area of biological effects of radiation.] Also in 1996, possible evidence for ancient Mars life was found in an Antarctic meteorite. Technology, too, has advanced enormously. As this volume goes to press, the Mars Pathfinder's Sagan Station is operating on Mars, and its tiny Sojourner rover is conducting the first mobile field geology of another planet. Last fall, a historic partnership was formalized between NASA's human spaceflight, life science, and space science offices to collaborate in an integrated program of robotic, and ultimately human, exploration of Mars. At the same time, reinvention of NASA over the past five years has renewed commitment to developing and applying new technology and to lowering project costs. A sus- tained and systematic drive toward the needed science and technology may be bringing the grand challenge of human exploration of the solar system within reach. Claude R. Canizares Chair Space Studies Board Louis J. Lanzerotti Former Chair Space Studies Board 1Space Studies Board, National Research Council, Radiation Hazards to Crews of Interplanetary Missions: Biological Issues and Research Strategies, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1996.
Contents Scientific Prerequisites for the Human Exploration of Space Scientific Opportunities in the Human Exploration of Space Science Management in the Human Exploration of Space v