|Author||National Academy Space Studies Board|
|Publisher||United States National Research Council|
|Published||March 7, 2011|
|Media type||hardcover, PDF|
The Planetary Science Decadal Survey is a publication of the United States National Research Council produced for NASA and other United States Government Agencies such as the National Science Foundation. The document identifies key questions facing planetary science and outlines recommendations for space and ground-based exploration ten years into the future. Missions to gather data to answer these big questions are described and prioritized, where appropriate. Similar Decadal Surveys cover astronomy and astrophysics, earth science, and heliophysics.
As of 2021 there have been two "Decadals", one published in 2002 for the decade from 2003 to 2013, and one in 2011 for 2013 to 2022. Work on the survey for 2023 to 2032 is currently in progress.
New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy, published in 2003, mapped out a plan for the decade from 2003 to 2013. The committee producing the survey was led by Michael J. Belton. Five panels focused on the inner planets, Mars, the giant planets, large satellites and astrobiology. The survey placed heavy emphasis on Mars exploration including the Mars Exploration Rovers, established of the New Frontiers program including New Horizons mission to study Pluto and established programs in power and propulsion to lay a technological basis for programs in later decades including manned missions beyond Earth orbit.
Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013 – 2022 (2011) was published in prepublication form on March 7, 2011, and in final form later that year. Draft versions of the document were presented at town hall meetings around the country, at lunar and planetary conferences, and made available publicly on the NASA website and via the National Academies Press. The report differed from previous reports in that it included a "brutally honest" budgetary review from a 3rd party contractor.
The report highlighted a new Mars rover, a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, and a mission to Uranus and its moons as proposed Flagship Missions. The Mars mission was given highest priority, followed by the Europa mission.
The Mars rover proposal was called MAX-C and it would store samples for eventual return to Earth, but the method of return was left open. It only recommended the rover mission if it could be done cheaply enough (US$2.5 billion).
The committee producing the survey was led by Steve Squyres of Cornell University and included 5 panels focusing on the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, and the Moon), Mars (not including Phobos and Deimos), the gas giant planets, satellites (Galilean satellites, Titan, and other satellites of the giant planets) and primitive bodies (Asteroids, comets, Phobos, Deimos, Pluto/Charon and other Kuiper belt objects, meteorites, and interplanetary dust).
Mission & Technology Studies:
The recommendation for the New Frontiers program was a selection from one of Comet Surface Sample Return, Lunar South Pole-Aitken Basin Sample Return, Saturn Probe, Trojan Tour and Rendezvous, and Venus In Situ Explorer. Then another selection adding Io Observer, Lunar Geophysical Network. (for NF 4 and 5) In the 2011 response from NASA to the review, NASA supported the New Frontiers recommendations. (The first three New Frontiers missions include New Horizons to Pluto flyby, the Juno Jupiter orbiter, and the OSIRIS-REx near-Earth orbit sample return mission.)