NASA Request for Information: New Science Investigations Using Existing NASA Spacecraft

Status Report From: NASA Science Mission Directorate
Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Synopsis - Mar 13, 2008

General Information

Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA005L
Posted Date: Mar 13, 2008
FedBizOpps Posted Date: Mar 13, 2008
Original Response Date: Apr 09, 2008
Current Response Date: Apr 09, 2008
Classification Code: A -- Research and Development
NAICS Code: 541712 - Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Biotechnology)

Contracting Office Address

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA Headquarters Acquisition Branch, Code 210.H, Greenbelt, MD 20771


REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) New Science Investigations using Existing NASA Spacecraft Science Mission Directorate, NASA Solicitation Number: NNH08ZDA005L Release Date: March 14, 2008 Response Date: April 9, 2008

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) currently sponsors approximately 85 flight missions, involving over 90 spacecraft, divided between missions in development and missions in operations. One of SMD's programmatic objectives is to maximize the science return for the Nation within the available budget. This Request for Information (RFI) solicits input from the broad space science community that would contribute to NASA's study of possible new uses for current NASA spacecraft beyond their current missions. Responses to this RFI (NNH08ZDA005L) will be used to inform NASA's program planning.


NASA has science missions under development and in operation that send spacecraft throughout the Solar System, including low and high Earth orbits, station keeping near Sun-Earth Lagrangian points, orbits around every planet from Mercury to Saturn as well as the Moon and asteroids, drift away Solar orbits, and trajectories out of the Solar System and into interstellar space. Each of these missions has science objectives that will be realized through a prime mission and possible mission extensions when the prime mission has been completed. NASA's science missions are managed by the Science Mission Directorate (SMD); information on these missions may be found at .

It is a programmatic objective of SMD to get more science return from the available budget. One way of increasing the science return from NASA's science missions is to continue operating the spacecraft after the prime mission has been completed. NASA has a biennial review process, called the Senior Review, to consider and approve the operation of spacecraft and extend the prime science mission.

An alternative to extending the prime science mission is to initiate a new science investigation with an existing spacecraft after the prime science mission has been completed. There have been several examples of this in the past, including the 1982 approval to use the ISEE-3 spacecraft (renamed ICE) for an encounter with Comet Giacobini-Zinner and the 2007 approval to use the Deep Impact spacecraft (renamed EPOXI) for a study of extrasolar planets during its cruise to encounter Comet Hartley 2. These new science investigations realized unique, high impact investigations that otherwise would cost substantially more to execute, and they provided high science value for the funds expended.

In this RFI, NASA is soliciting ideas and suggestions from the science and research communities on potential new uses of existing NASA science spacecraft that support NASA's science goals. A new science investigation using an existing spacecraft should address one or more of NASA's science objectives in any of SMD's research disciplines (Astrophysics, Earth Science, Heliophysics, and Planetary Science). NASA's science objectives are described in The Science Plan for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (2007-2016), available at .

In addition to using an existing spacecraft (or multiple spacecraft) for a new mission in the same research discipline as the one it was designed for, such as retargeting a planetary science mission to a new destination or flying a multi-spacecraft heliophysics mission in a new constellation, this request specifically includes the use of existing spacecraft with prime missions in one research discipline for a new science investigation in a different research discipline. This could include, but is not limited to, the use of astrophysics spacecraft for Earth observations, the use of planetary science spacecraft for heliophysics measurements or astrophysics observations, or the use of Earth science spacecraft to study the Moon.

It is not the intent of this RFI to solicit observation requests, i.e. relatively modest changes such as a single observation using an existing spacecraft for a short period of time, but instead to solicit major and entirely new applications for existing spacecraft.

With input from responses to this RFI, NASA intends to consider (i) whether there are science opportunities for new uses of existing spacecraft and (ii) whether a solicitation for proposals is warranted to enable such opportunities.

Instructions for Response:

The response to this RFI will be in the form of a PDF document that is uploaded through NASA's NSPIRES system. The response should not exceed four pages in length. NASA is soliciting information that might be used by NASA to facilitate planning for new uses of existing spacecraft.

Material in a RFI response is confidential, nonbinding on the respondent, and will be used by NASA for information and planning purposes only. This RFI is not to be construed as a commitment by the Government nor will the Government pay for information solicited. No proposals will be awarded funding as a result of this RFI.

The complete RFI including background, requested information, and instructions for responding may be found at (select "Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "Request for Information (NNH08ZDA005L): New Science Investigations using Existing NASA Spacecraft").

Responses to this RFI must be submitted no later than April 9, 2008.

For further information on this RFI, please contact Dr. Paul Hertz, Science Mission Directorate, NASA, Washington, DC 20546; email at

Point of Contact

Name: Dr. Paul Hertz
Title: Senior Advisor for Science Process and Ethics
Phone: 202-358-0986
Fax: 202-358-3987

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