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Editorial: NASA Planetary R&A Reorganization

Status Report From: Planetary Exploration Newsletter
Posted: Sunday, November 10, 2013

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Mark V. Sykes Planetary Science Institute

NASA (and the Administration) has not had a good track record of late,  putting the cart way before the horse with the recent EPO  reorganization debacle, Mars 2020, and the Asteroid Retrieval Mission.  Sometimes plans can go awry, as with the rephasing of research awards in 2010 to free up money to cover an MSL cost overrun. Failure to cover  those rephased obligations in subsequent years was the primary reason  for a collapse in proposal selection rates.

The planetary research and analysis programs, along with mission data  analysis programs, support most of the US planetary community. Their streamlining could provide benefits. A misstep could permanently damage  US solar system exploration capability. The plan laid out by Jim Green  is very vague: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/pss/nov2013/Green__Rall_PSS_Nov%20_2013.pdf

(beginning on slide 41). Its implementation is premature. So, it is  very good that NASA is reaching out to the community for input. This  should be the first step in a more extended process that will  transparently and iteratively add important details and well-defined  improvements to any reorganization plan. It is far more important to  get it right, than to rush and cause harm.

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