2009-2010 Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space


Dear Colleague,

It is my pleasure to tell you about an opportunity to contribute to the 2009-2010 Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space conducted by the National Research Council (NRC) of The National Academies.

As you may know, the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space has been organized by the National Research Council at the request of NASA and in response to Congressional legislation. Its objective is to set clear priorities for microgravity research for the coming decade, incorporating numerous biological, physical and engineering disciplines to address a wide range of issues in basic and exploration-driven research.

The decadal survey will involve the entire U.S. microgravity and exploration community and is being led by a steering committee and seven survey panels. The membership of the committee and panels is provided on the decadal survey web site, http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/microgravdecadal.html, where you may check regularly for updates on meetings, activities, and additional opportunities for input.

With the recent initiation of survey panel activity, we hope that you will consider responding to this Request for Information with a white paper that deals with any one topic, or crosses over many disciplines. The many potential topics for microgravity and exploration research are being grouped into the following panels:

  1. Animal and Human Biology
  2. Applied Physical Sciences
  3. Fundamental Physical Sciences
  4. Human Behavior and Mental Health
  5. Integrative and Translational Research for the Human System
  6. Plant and Microbial Biology Panel
  7. Translation to Space Exploration Systems


Community input serves as one of the cornerstones of an NRC decadal survey. Given the current state of microgravity research and questions regarding future opportunities, your input will help us provide the best advice possible to NASA for creating a microgravity research portfolio for the 2010-2020 decade that will both advance science and enable exploration. A complete description of the survey's scope is provided by the Statement of Task available at the following web site: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/microgravdecadal_task.pdf.

To facilitate document management we have devised the following submission guidelines for white papers:

  • White papers may be no less than 2 pages in length and no more than 5 pages in length;
  • A cover page may be included (beyond the 5-page limit) that should include the title of the white paper, the primary author's name, phone number, institution, and email address, and a list of co-authors with their respective institutions;
  • Multiple authorship that accurately reflects a consensus among many individuals is strongly encouraged. Everyone in the relevant science and engineering communities is encouraged to author white papers - the only exception is the decadal survey panel chairs and steering committee members;
  • Use a 12-pt font with 1-inch margins on all sides of the document;
  • Papers in Microsoft Word (.doc), Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) formats will be accepted. No other formats will be accepted;
  • White paper file sizes should be as small as possible. White papers larger than 50 Mb in size cannot be accepted. For file management purposes, please compress your figures as much as possible. You can provide hyperlinks to higher resolution versions of illustrations if you wish;
  • White papers can be submitted by navigating your browser to:
  • http://www8.nationalacademies.org/ssbsurvey/mds.aspx.


We can only accept white papers submitted by means of this web-based system. Submissions must be made before 11:59 p.m. EDT, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2009. However, the earlier a submission is received, the sooner it can be incorporated into the study process and early submissions are strongly encouraged. Questions on the process can be submitted to microgravity_decadal@nas.edu. Any white papers submitted to that email address will be returned and you will be directed to the decadal survey web site.

All white papers received by the NRC will be posted online where they can be downloaded and viewed freely at http://www8.nationalacademies.org/SSBSurvey/PublicViewMicro.aspx.

I've observed over the past few months that our community is coming together with a very significant set of inputs to the decadal survey process, and I look forward to continuing to work with all of you to merge those inputs into a consensus program that has the community's full support.

Best wishes,

Betsy Cantwell, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Co-Chair, Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space

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