Download A Performance Assessment of NASA's Astrophysics Program by National Research Council, Division on Engineering and PDF

By National Research Council, Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences, Board on Physics and Astronomy, Space Studies Board, NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee

Whereas a few striking discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics have taken position during the last two decades, many very important questions stay. endured growth in those fields would require NASA's management. to aid make certain if NASA can meet this problem, Congress, within the 2005 NASA Authorization Act, directed the enterprise to have "the functionality of every department within the technological know-how directorate...reviewed and assessed through the nationwide Academy of Sciences at 5-year intervals." In early 2006, NASA requested the NRC to behavior such an evaluate for the agency's Astrophysics department. This file provides an overview of the way good NASA's present software addresses the suggestions, targets, and priorities defined in prior Academy stories. The record offers an research of development towards understanding those ideas, targets, and priorities; and a dialogue of activities that may be taken to optimize the clinical price of this system within the context of present and forecasted assets.

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Additional info for A Performance Assessment of NASA's Astrophysics Program

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Since the release of the AANM survey report, cost estimates for both Con-X and LISA have grown, and as a result LISA is now also classiied as a lagship mission—an Einstein Great Observatory. To this point both missions have received technology development support from NASA, but the investment has been unsteady and far less than that envisioned in the AANM decadal survey ($1,050 million combined). LISA is a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), and both ESA and NASA have funded the Space Technology-7 (ST-7) technology demonstration mission, which will validate a number of technologies critical to the project.

The dominant reason for the delay or deferral of large sections of the Astrophysics Division’s program (as well as for the imbalance in the program) is the growth in the cost of the projects that the division is implementing. The higherthan-anticipated costs to the division for missions currently in development will total roughly $2 billion more over the course of the decade than the AANM decadal survey anticipated based on the cost data the survey committee was given by NASA. In addition, the cost estimates for the missions still in the formulation phase (such as LISA and Con-X) are also signiicantly greater than anticipated at the time of the AANM survey.

In so doing, the Astrophysics Division has failed to adequately respond to the AANM survey report’s recommendation that NASA maintain a diverse mission portfolio. 4 Slowdown of Progress— Analysis and Appraisal The NRC reports Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium and Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos identiied a compelling set of scientiic goals and opportunities that the ield is in a position to address. NASA’s 2003 roadmaps presented a set of plans to address many of these goals. However, between 2003 and 2006 the iscal posture of the Astrophysics Division changed considerably, and the resulting 2006 plan is substantially different from the 2003 plan in two key ways.

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