Announcement regarding the US-NRC Solar System Exploration Decadal Study

Press Release From: Canadian Space Agency
Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2001

For those of you who have not yet heard, Dr. Edward Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Space Science, has asked the National Research Council (U.S.) to organize and oversee a planetary science "decadal" study. The study is intended to follow along the sames lines as the highly successful astronomy and astrophysics decadal reports. For the planetary version (under the leadership of Dr. Michael Belton), we are expected to

1). Define a "big picture" of solar system exploration -- what it is, how it fits into other scientific endeavors, and why it is a compelling goal today;

2). Conduct a broad survey of the current state of knowledge about our solar system today; 3). Identify the top-level scientific questions that should provide the focus for solar system exploration today (and within the next decade, 2003-2013); and 4). Draft a prioritized list of the most promising avenues for flight investigations and supporting ground-based activities.

The corresponding astronomy studies historically have had great political impact with Congress and the White House, primarily because they have enjoyed broad-based support and participation from the astronomy community. For it to be as successful, the solar-system decadal study must receive the same community support, through open discussions and broad-based input from the entire planetary-science community.


Please contribute to the decadal study. Although formal panels have already been organized along subject lines (e.g., giant planets, inner planets, primitive bodies, etc.), you are encouraged to contact the individual panel chairs and offer your views on their subjects. In addition, you should consider joining an existing "community" panel or simply initiate a new community panel on a topic of your choice. Topics that do not fall easily into the "object" categories of the formal panels or that span several categories (such as solar system formation and evolution, comparative planetology, planetary atmospheres) might be particularly good subjects for community panels and forum discussions. Note that different groups or individuals can work on the same subjects within separate panels.

For more information on these activities, please see the Web site that is sponsored by the DPS/AAS, AGU, GSA, and Meteoritical Society:

As Mark Sykes, DPS Chair states, "We want to cast the broadest possible net across the planetary science community. All of your voices are needed, individually and collectively." A number of different outreach activities are planned to ensure the widest-possible involvement of all interested communities in the study. These include public forums that will be held in conjunction with major community activities (e.g., meetings). Those interested in hosting such an event are encouraged to contact the Survey Committee's Study Director, Dr. David H.Smith, at

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