Editorial: First Do No Harm (NASA planetary research)


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Mark V. Sykes, Planetary Science Institute

Every community assessment group has found that implementation of NASA planetary research restructuring should be delayed and formally reviewed. At last week's NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG), NASA announced that circulation to the Planetary Science Subcommittee of a draft ROSES2014 announcement containing this restructuring will constitute a "Senior Review." Rollout will be in mid-February.

The most immediate threat is the ROSES2014 proposal due date of late February 2015 for the monster "Solar System Workings" (SSW) to which 1/3 of all planetary research and data analysis proposals will be submitted. For proposers to the major programs Cosmochemistry, Planetary Geology and Geophysics, Planetary Atmospheres and Mars Fundamental Research, this means a 20-22 month interval from the previous due dates in 2013, guaranteeing funding gaps for scientists, many of whom will be forced to seek other employment.

At SBAG, it was announced that the SSW due date might be shifted to "summer". To avoid funding gaps this date would optimally be May 2014.

Numerous National Academy and PSS reports state the critical importance of stability in the planetary research programs to US solar system exploration. Shifting the SSW due date is essential.

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