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tv   NAS As Science Missions  CSPAN  August 1, 2018 2:34pm-4:01pm EDT

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>> good afternoon. .his hearing is called to order since the dawn of time, man has often looked up into the night sky and wondered what is out there. are we alone? greek philosopher epicurus assumed that "other
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and otherh plants living things, some of them similar and some of them different than ours, must exist ." the basic question of wondering what is out there has driven civilizations to risk life and limb, to explore not only this planet but venture into the solar system. effort toasa began an try to better answer this question by launching voyager , originallyger 2 intended to primarily explore jupiter and saturn. each spacecraft carries a small american flag and a golden record packed with pictures and sounds that are intended to be mementos of our home planet. 40 years after they were launched, voyager 1 has reached
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interstellar space, and voyager 2 is in the outermost layer of the helio sphere where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas. as each spacecraft continues its voyage and transmits scientific information to earth, we are left to wonder if the great steve martin may still be proven right. that one day we may receive a forward response from intelligent life somewhere in the universe who received the golden record and simply request, send more chuck berry. is not justor life a question of casual interest. it is an integral part of nasa's core mission. transition authorization act of 2017, signed into law by president trump, this committee authored and added a short phrase to
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nasa's mission. origin,rch for life's evolution, distribution, and future in the universe." the atlantic has described the addition of that short but momentous phrase as "a visionary one, setting the stage for a far-reaching effort that could have as profound an impact on the 21st century as the apollo program had on the 20th." since the enactment of the nasa transmission authorization act of 2017, we have more reason to be encouraged that we are on the right path. before our last hearing, the journal science published a report on radar evidence of mars.cial liquid water on using radar profiles collected
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from a satellite between may 2012 and december 2015. scientists have found evidence of a 12 mile wide reservoir of briny water beneath the south polar layer deposits. and just one month prior to the ,nnouncement of this discovery nasa reported that the curiosity rover found new evidence, preserved in rocks on mars, suggesting the planet could have supported ancient life. we are making progress as we search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe. as we look to draft a new nasa authorization act this year, hopefully, it is imperative we not only make progress answering this question, but we equip nasa with the capabilities it needs to support science missions and priorities that will lead to discoveries across our solar system. to bes a momentous time
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involved in space exploration, and i look forward to the testimony of our esteemed witnesses. now recognized senator markey, the ranking member. >> thank you for having this extremely important hearing today with this incredible panel . last week, we gained great insight from our witnesses on how americans will venture out of earth's orbit beyond the moon and on to the surface of mars. today, we welcome another distinguished panel of experts that will point us in the right direction as we launch science missions into the void of space, with the hopes of making groundbreaking discoveries about our solar system, universe, and our very own home, planet earth. sciencey, nasa's
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mission directorate funds space science missions and research in , number of crucial areas including astrophysics, planetary science, and helio physics. one of the portfolios that is , but iserlooked absolutely vital, is earth science. with deadly fires gripping california and greece, extreme hurricanes in the atlantic, and searing heat waves and droughts around the world, our investment in nasa's earth science and climate research programs, and missions, must both be abundant and unwavering. earth essential observation missions, including the carbon monitoring system, the orbiting carbon observatory 2, and the gravity recovery and race,te experiment, or g
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give us evidence that the climate is changing. this information could help us prepare for a more dangerous .uture we must be sure that nasa's earth science program has the resources necessary to provide scientists with the latest data so that congress and agencies across the government can combat this problem head on so that our planet earth may be home to many .uture generations to come finally, we are fortunate to have the professor of physics and planetary science at m.i.t., testnvestigator on nasa's mission. nasa announced only a few days ago that tests has been turned on and has begun its search for distant worlds. carl sagan once said, the nature of life on earth and the quest for life elsewhere are two
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science of the same question -- question, theame search for who we are. it is one of the nasa scientific missions that will help us find who we are. my colleagues and i have great confidence in the space community, including nasa's community of exceptional scientists and collaborators. we thank you all for helping us understand better what our mission here in congress should be, to help you accomplish this goal. >> i would now recognized the ranking member, senator nelson. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would point out that the science mission directorate is an incredible amount that they do. here. the nasa budget is
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and they are operating 60 spacecraft.80 it is a vast. they want to unlock the secrets of the universe. you all of talked about the , improving life here on earth. so, legislation we are putting the search to add for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and the future of the universe. that is about everything, rolled into one. the gee whizne of parts of nasa. and it is complimentary with the human missions of nasa, because
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one complements the other. we can't do one without the other. it is going to be a real challenge for us to protect human life going all the way to mars. we've got to get there faster than now, and we've got to protect them from being fried in the process by radiation. what we will learn in that mission, and that development of technology to sustain human life , andwill also complement vice versa, the science mission directorate. it's going to be an exciting time for nasa. thank you. here to talk about the danger of being fried in space, just yesterday, i mentioned to my staff, the old tv ads, this is your brain on drugs, this is your brain with a side of bacon.
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they were too young to have any idea what i was talking about. pleased to welcome each of the witnesses today, we will start the dr. thomas zuburchen, associate administrator for nasa's science mission directorate. he was a professor of space science and aerospace engineering. his experience includes research -- olar and space systems, innovation and entrepreneurship. he has been involved in several nasa science missions, including the ulysses space probe, the messenger spacecraft to mercury, and the advanced composition, explorer. he received his phd in physics inm the university of byrne switzerland. our next witness is dr. ellen --
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director of the smithsonian national air and space museum. i think it may be a federal law that every child who comes to washington must go to the smithsonian air and space museum. she's the seventh person to lead the museum since apollo 11 astronaut -- oversaw its 1976, and is the first woman appointed to the position. she previously served as an asset's chief scientist for three years from 2013 to 2016. that role, she guided the development of a long-range plan to send humans to mars, worked on strategies to expand commercial activity in earth orbit, and supported nasa's the allelegrams in physics, science, planetary science, and astrophysics. scientist for the new
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millennial program at the jet propulsion laboratory in california. she received her phd in geological sciences from brown university. dr. david -- charles a young professor of astronomy and astrophysical sciences at princeton university, my alma mater. worked decades, he has on interpretation and analysis of microwave background data to better understand the basic properties of the universe. he is the cochair of the science team for the wide field infrared survey telescope, more commonly known as w-fiorst. been involved in many aspects of the mission and contributed countless hours of telescope that will ultimately lead humanity see further into the universe then ever before. he received his phd in astronomy from harvard. , professor ofeger
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physics and planetary science at the massachusetts and stick to the technology. a native of toronto, her research has made unprecedented discoveries, gone leaps and bounds to expand humanity's knowledge in the field of astronomy. dr. seger's research has introduced new ideas on the study of xo planets -- of exoplanets. part of the team to detect the first emission of light from an exoplanet. she has committed swabs of research on all kinds of exoplanets. she received her phd in astronomy from harvard university. i would know, with all of these phd's, i think the senators here are all badly on it -- badly undereducated. our first witness, dr. zuburchen
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. >> thank you. cruise, ranking members and members of the subcommittee, the work of nasa scientists at the forefront of scientific discovery and innovation. the questions we seek to answer affect humanity on a global scale and focus on our place in the universe. where did we come from? are we alone? questions that are well aligned with the topic of this hearing. later this month, nasa will launch our next daring mission, , byh will touch the sun flying deep through its atmosphere. the first spacecraft designed to do so, and will revolutionize our understanding of the sun's corona, and the solar wind. this mission will also make critical contributions to our ability to forecast changes in
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space weather that affect life essentialy's technological infrastructure on the near earth. -- will join numerous other missions launched in just a few months past. , launched in mid-april, planet-hunting mission, searching for planets orbiting nearby stars. began conducting the first-ever and transit survey -- candidates.xoplanet targets fortify more detailed characterization, -- and other missions. also launched in may, nasa's newest mars lander, insight, is now on route for a november touchdown. it will join a compliment of nasa rovers and orbiters on the
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red planet. inside, the advanced payload will provide unique information on the interior structure of mars, and other planets. collaborating closely with the human exploration program at nasa, we continue to use the international space station as a valuable platform for great science. june 29, -- carried to the space station by commercial resupply mission. and plantal water use stress around the globe, and identify drought warning conditions. in fact, there's no program in nasa science that has more direct impact to everyday life than our earth science program, as mentioned. whether developing the tools to predict severe weather or drought, or understanding the complex interactions of the earth's systems, this affects
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our lives. in the midst of the 2017 hurricane season, data reduced were usedsatellites to support real-time decision-making and response fema and nasa also integrates science and future human exploration goals with regard to the return of humans to the moon and to mars, establishing a new agencywide lunar discovery exploration program at leveraging nasa's extensive lunar science and ada, jumpstarting commercial partnerships, innovative for launching next generation sophisticated science instruments, and the development of small rovers that will reach the moon's surfaced via rover lenders. -- some of the most exciting views of the unexplored worlds in our solar system. progress continues on the mars 2020 rover which will carry a small helicopter to mars, a first for humanity.
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nasa is planning a potential mars sample return mission, identified by the scientific community in a most recent -- during 2019, nasa will continue mission to of the fly by jupiter's ocean moon, one of the most promising targets for life in our solar system. in many ways, nasa astrophysics and planetary science programs are working more closely than ever. exploring how habitable environment develop and contribute to the search for life, as will be discussed later. not just committed to discussing the big questions, but commitment to new and challenging missions. in 2021, nasa observatories will be joined by the wep space -- viewingcapable of the atmospheres of nearby planets outside the solar
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system. once the telescope and instruments are fully integrated and perform superbly, the spacecraft element can strive of the tennis court sized sunshield, completely assembled and undergoing testing. in march 2018, nasa recognized it would take longer and cost ,ore than previously estimated due to issues involving immigration -- integration and testing of the elements. i established the results to an interim -- to an independent review board, for complete development. -- provided valuable recommendations which we are all implementing. as we look forward to the future , nasa's science program will continue to contribute to the scientific and technological advancement of the united states and inspire future scientists and engineers to reach for the stars. i will be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you.
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chairman cruz, ranking members and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the search for life beyond her. theolleagues will discuss search beyond our solar system, and i will focus on the solar system. as former chief scientist of nasa and the current mars director of the smithsonian national air and space museum, there is no other topic i find as exciting or fundamental to future discoveries that will one day be highlighted in my museum, as this one. all planetary science begins on earth. taste on our understanding of how life arose here, it requires long-standing bodies of liquid water. indicate --natures 3.8 billion years ago. tenacious,t life is
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diverse, and highly adaptable. after biologists have found life in extreme environments, like volcanic lakes, sulfur springs, the top of the stratosphere very high levels of radiation or consuming toxic chemicals. we find life on earth nearly everywhere we look. given the commonality of conditions here and elsewhere in the solar system, it is highly unlikely that life is unique to our planet. we know the building blocks, amino acids, are ubiquitous in the solar system, found in comets, asteroids, clouds. -- intentionally habitable to microbial life, with liquid water, a source of nutrients and energy. within the icy moons of the outer solar system, jupiter's moon, europa, and saturn's moon for over been stable
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one billion years, likely enriched by volcanic eruptions from the moon's inner cores, a positive source for both nutrients and energy. they did -- theyu vent into space and could easily be sampled by spacecraft without landing. -- found water to contain salts, silica, and organic molecules, all pointing towards a habitable environment. the sample may have contained signs of microbial life, but the instruments were not designed to detect them. opaneed to go back to eur with better instruments. how will we know life when we see it? through years of peer-reviewed research, we have developed something called the letter of life. it lays out what to measure and how. it begins with a habitable environment with rungs for biomolecules, metabolism, and
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ultimately, darwinian evolution. next to decades of nasa spacecraft missions, we know how to take the next steps in the search for life. titan.lly even on ago, aroundyears the same time life arose on earth, a significant portion of mars was covered in water. it remained wet for about 500 million years, before conditions became similar to what we see today, a cold, dusty, dry surface bombarded by solar and cosmic radiation. if life evolved on mars during the wet time, microorganisms should be present in surface rocks. that is why it is astronauts, not just the orbiters, landers, and rovers that have got us to this point. biologists, geologists, and on -- ground
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could study its variation, complexity, relationship to life on earth, much more effectively robotic emissaries. nasa could put humans in orbit around mars by 2033, and down to the surface later in the decade, completely feasibly and affordably if the agency focuses on the technologies required. 2038,g humans on mars by 20 years from now, is not nearly as audacious as landing on the moon in eight years, which the united states accomplished years ago. commerciale partnerships and scientific expertise, as we demonstrate each day with research groups. is extremely well scoped and studied. we need only accept the challenge. putting aside the amazing scientific and technology group -- and technological dividends
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of a mars shot, think of the clinical and historical benefits -- from the apollo program. this is another exciting moment in human history. we know where to look and how. we have the technology to determine if life has evolved elsewhere in the solar system, and could easily do so in the next two decades. >> thank you. dr. struggle. spergel. >> i thank you for the opportunity to testify. i am a professor of astronomy at princeton university and managing director of the -- institute in new york. i will focus on nasa astrophysics. my written remarks discuss the broader program, and with the chairman's permission, i request my written remarks be made part of the record. a multi generational program of
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and studying space is the modern version of the construction of the great cathedrals of europe. many of nasa's important activities, from sending humans to mars to the study of extrasolar planets and understanding the cosmos, are fundamentally centuries long projects. in cosmology, we've learned our universe is both remarkably simple and remarkably strange. nearly one century ago, dr. hubble began our program of measuring the size and shape of the universe. today, the hubble space telescope continues the program. over the past two decades, we've learned a simple model with only five parameters, the age of the universe, density of adams, density of matter, and initiales of the fluctuations, described all the basic properties in the universe.
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while successful, this model implies that atoms make up only 5% of the universe. most of the universe is made of dark matter and dark energy. we don't know what makes up most of the universe. of darknding the nature energy is one of the most compelling problems in physics. both europe and china are leading missions to study dark energy. when i was in beijing last year, i was impressed by china's plans to launch a large space telescope with a primary focus on studying dark energy. this telescope will have the world's largest space camera and use chinese military technology to construct a large, off axis telescope. fortunately, nasa is moving forward with the premier dark energy emission, w first. will measure the expansion rate of the universe and growth of structure to unprecedented precision.
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itss meeting all of technological requirements, is on schedule for a 2025 launch. astronomers have learned the solar system is far from unique. from theervations kepler spacecraft and ground-based observatories, they discovered thousands of extra planets -- of exoplanets. therepeare's line, that are more things on heaven and earth than dreamt up in your philosophy, is perhaps our best guide. just as the exploration of the cosmos has driven telescope design, the study of exoplanets and the search for life beyond our solar system will likely shape telescopes in the coming century. nearbyld view many planets. when launched, the james webb space telescope will be able to
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characterize the atmospheres of some of these planets. w first corona-graph is to be the first step in extra planetary characterization. will not only be able to around nearby stars, but will be the stepping for developing technologies for the next generation of great observatories. understanding planet information requires a wide range of informational approaches. comets, asteroids, radio and infrared observations revealing extra information, and w first will complete the sentence begun .y kepler and test these should reveal thousands of planets and the outer regions of our solar systems. these large projects are challenging and will require disappearance. delays are frustrating to all of us. while the report by therfe was hard to read at times, i believe
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jwst will be a flagship of all eventual success of this complex engineering project, a source of national pride and symbol of u.s. technological prowess. these new costs should be spread across the agency, borne entirely by the astrophysics directed. it will have a devastating effect on future missions in the scientific program. thiste these challenges, is an incredibly exciting time in astrophysics. nasa satellites have discovered thousands of exoplanets. gravitational waves traveling billions of light-years, tracing large-scale distribution of dark matter and dark energy. each of these discoveries raises new questions that future satellite missions will address in the years to come. the upcoming national academy scientists survey will provide
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an opportunity to outline a new vision for the coming decade. >> thank you. dr. seger. chairman cruz, ranking members and committee members, thank you for the opportunity to appear today. i open with a quote from one of our founding fathers, john adams. goodnomers tell us, with reason, that not only all the planets and satellites and our solar system, but all the unnumbered worlds, are inhabited. it is amazing day believe there is life everywhere. although we don't have evidence for life beyond earth, we are the first generation with the capability to find it. we know of thousands of planets orbiting other stars, and as we've heard of -- solar system bodies with evidence of subsystem liquid water.
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and because water is required for all life as we know it, these bodies may be able to support life. we've heard from other witnesses that nasa's new planet hunting mission that launched on august 18, test, started operations on july 21. in august, it will be delivering the first data to earth. my team is ready to go, and i thought you might be -- might appreciate knowing that finding exoplanets today is actual standard operating procedure. test aims to discover the best planets for follow-up with a web telescope, and to -- make it suitable to observe atmospheres. i want you to know that despite growth, thend cost community is tremendously enthusiastic because webb will provide our first ability to study xoplanets.
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-- looking at atmospheres for gases that might be attributed to life. on earth, oxygen is the best example. without plants or bacteria, our planet would have no oxygen. it is not like earth for our son, it is limited to planets orbiting red dwarf stars, because it is easier to find planets around small stars rather than relatively large ones. these planets being red dwarf stars may be different from earth, because they give off , flares,st of energy ultraviolet radiation that would frequently bathed the planet's surface. in the 1950's, we had an event like that. on these planets, it would be happening daily. we humans could not tolerate it because it would ruin electronics. it would disable the power grid and even destroy our biological cells, but we are hoping that would be evolve their
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adapted to those conditions. the goal is to find a true earth when -- earth twin. whose environment we can understand in the context of the search for life. next way a massive, bright star like the sun. the difference in brightness is one part in 10 billion, so we need to wait to block out the sunlight to see the planet directly. the w first chronograph instrument is the first high contrast space-based chronograph , blocking out starlight to study exoplanets. it won't be able to reach down to find other planets like earth . it can study about a dozen giant already known to exist. it is critical to the demonstration to abide down risk to the future, for more ambitious missions already under study. we have a technique to find
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earth with a modest sized telescope, tens of meters in diameter with its own spacecraft. it would fly its own information tens of thousands of kilometers away. the starship does all the hard , andof blocking the light the technical reasons behind that are why the starship -- st earthde can already find analogs, building upon large employable's, space-based radio deployable antennas. effort to directed mature such technologies by 2023, though it could happen soon with more funding. first --shade with w ability to discover dozens of and the first chance we have to find planets like earth. -- to rendezvous with it on orbit, and nasa has directed the
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w first project to be operational with star shade. and later by the project, .ending a recommendation there's more details there, but short on time, i'll move on to tell you that in 2010, i became a citizen of the united states of america. the reason i came to m.i.t. to be here is because we are the world leader in space technology. priorityome tough choices ahead if our nation is the first to discover signs of life beyond earth, whether in our solar system or on a distant planet. mr. chairman and committee, this concludes my remarks. thank you for your attention and continued support. , to eachyou very much of the witnesses. let us start with a question to all four of you. why should we be engaged in the search for life? why does it
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that be ad why should priority for our space mission? >> i believe it is one of the big questions of humanity. this is how great nations make a mark, what they do for their citizens and how they move history forward. this will be one of those questions answered that will be remembered forever, because it will be a lead in not only understanding more of our nature, but in understanding ourselves on a level we haven't in the past. thomas gave the underlying philosophical answer which i 100% agree with, i'd like to focus on, when we try to do things that are really hard, like in the time of apollo. when you push to answer the tough questions is when you push technology forward. when you push technology
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forward, you push society and the economy forward. trying to answer these big questions, building these big telescopes and sending humans to mars, these are an investment in the future of our country and i think it is incredibly important. let me just add another as ant which i see professor, working with students. i thinka question that engages everyone. this is a question that kids in elementary school ask about. certainly something that college students are engaged with. and by asking this question, we draw people into science and help bring this next generation who will be part of our stand education-- stem community. i think this is one of the side benefits. many of us do this because we want to know the answer.
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but we have these benefits that come from exploring these questions. >> i will add to that. most senior engineers today, either in civilian national defense or security, were inspired by the moon landings. today, the equivalent to that is the search for life. we will inspire the next generation to go into technology. and for the record, it takes a ton of pure science research to come up with anything practical. things you could never invent while searching for something practical. gps did not come because somebody needed a navigation system for their car. just by exploring, we have unique, practical spinoffs. >> thank you. spergel, you previously tweeted, what is driving the acceleration of the universe? how did our galaxy and its neighbors form and evolve?
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what determines the architecture of exoplanets? the u.s. should be leading the world in addressing these big questions. is the united states currently addressing world in these big questions, and what do we need to do better to ensure that we are and remain a global leader? >> i think we are leading the world in addressing these questions at the moment, but looking around the world, i see coming out ofe our european colleagues. the european space agency is launching a number of space science missions that are pushing the edge forward. the gaia mission is giving us new insight into galactic dynamics, certainly at the cutting edge in areas like astrometry. they are often partnered with us on many projects. looking east, i've been
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impressed by the investments the chinese have been making in space science. they were not significant players 10 years ago. looking to where they might be one decade from now, if we stopped investing, they will be the leaders. >> i want to add to that, about china. unfortunately, the technology is finicky. >> we used to say that china could copy perfectly not innovate, but that has changed. intoare pouring money solar panel technology, nuclear power, space. what we want to maintain our healthy budget for innovative science. >> this committee is working on . new nasa authorization bill we passed one last year, the first in seven years. we are working on another one that i hope we will pass this year.
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let me ask the witnesses, what do you see as the science-related priorities that are most important to be reflected in the bill? i'll put on my hat as former chair of the space studies board, what we try to do is identify what i think are the top scientific priorities in each of the areas that nasa science mission directorate works. in planetary science, it has certainly been the top priority to go to mars, return a sample from mars. followed by exploring europa. helio physics, understanding the processes of the sun, space weather. in astrophysics, completing jwst, and w first would be the current top priorities.
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we are about to engage in the astrophysics community in our process of looking at the proposed missions of identifying the next set of priorities. i think we'll begin by thinking about the key driving questions. the search for life will certainly be one, others will include understanding the processes of galaxy formation, star formation, and universal destruction. ,nd in earth science and space as ranking member markie mentioned earlier, using the vantage point of space to watch the changing environment is another key part of nasa's mission. the remarks started with the greeks and the planets, and i think a priority should be finding the true birth twin -- true earth twin.
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it is a huge problem, but something that america is leading the way. the star shade is not being developed in any other country. look -- to search for faraway planets, but we also want to make sure we do our work here on earth correctly. ina has been a leader climate science, understanding -- helping us understand where we live. and giving us the most up-to-date data and projections, with missions such as oco2 and grace. associate administrator tourchen, is it important understanding threats like climate science? >> the earth science program is an important one for the nation. the earth science program we had a strong.
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we have an increasing number of spacecrafts in orbit. last i counted was 17. missions in orbit and several in development. this veryelieve that important and unique program, complementary to other efforts in the government and beyond, is very important for nasa and the nation. commitment toke a this committee that earth science will remain a priority in the years ahead for nasa? >> earth science has a key element of nasa. it has been with nasa from the beginning and i will make a commitment that we will implement everything -- the program being appropriated here, which includes a stronger science program. in that sense, absolutely yes. >> let's have each one of you give us an example of how deep to, orxploration relates
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helps us, back here on earth. can you give us an example? we have gps given to us earlier as an example. so, how would it relate in the 21st century, to each of us in terms of the breakthroughs that are possible? >> one of my favorite examples has always been active the issue of climate, understanding this planet's climate. when you put it in the context of looking at guinness, mars, planets moon, titan, have varying amounts of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. understanding the climates of not just earth, but comparing it to other planets, it has helped us to really understand what is happening here. i first identified the ozone
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after a scientist who had been looking at guinness came back and looked at earth -- looking at venus. >> that is how mario did that? interesting. example that comes to and is studying ice planets then looking at glaciers. you are looking at the physics, the remote-sensing technologies. -- is launching in september. many of the same remote-sensing technologies when we go visit planets in our own solar system as we do looking back on earth. often see things we in science, if you look at one example, you don't fully understand what is going on. we've understood the earth much better, and we've understood processes on the earth by first observing things happening on
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venus, on mars, elsewhere. now, when we look at extrasolar planetary systems, understanding our solar system better, we now see our solar system as but one example of many, and stepping back and getting this acre picture, understanding those physical processes makes us read think about the. >> medical imaging is something we are familiar with. he will get m.r.i.'s and other scans. in astronomy, we do the same thing. medical imaging can thank astronomy. my team at jet propulsion lab built a small telescope in space to find planets. what it does that is new is that it can point more precisely, 100 times more precisely than anything in its mass category. will it likely find eggs of planets? probably not, --
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packing more information than radio waves. one of the things i've been personally involved in in my past before i took this job is that in some of the spinoffs from space technology, including electronics developed to study environmental conditions on mars that are routinely used in manufacturing environment to prevent discharges from happening and many others. there's so many, we could talk to you for hours. >> thank you. thank you, mr. chairman and ranking member for holding this hearing. thank you to all of our witnesses today. it is a real pleasure to see you all. i would like to offer and especially warm welcome to -- also a brown alumnus. for girls important
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and young women to see women lead in science, so for both -- having a 50-50 panel is a nice visual. i'd like to start by touching on space weather. of holland -- institute earth, oceans, and space at the university of new hampshire, a role renowned expert on space weather. he leads a research group that studies the physics of cosmic plasmas from the sun's corona to earth's upper atmosphere using experimental modeling techniques. this research will ultimately help our understanding of the potential threat space weather can present to earth. that is why investing in space weather research is so critical. dr., is nasa providing the resources to implement the
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action plan and strategy? started with the last two or three years of investments that followed the plan. we have started to implement some of these recommendations. at the are fully funded level initially foreseen. there is a number of discussions happening across agencies on how we best do that. coming up with innovative ideas .o get space weather data a unique collaboration between nasa and noaa. it is that level of discussion we are having going forward and really coming up with a full implementation of this action plan. yes, we are on the way. could we go faster? probably. that is helpful. as i understand it, nasa funds
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science missions based on priorities set by the national academies of science. that makes sense, but there are obviously other, we might refer to them as more applied, reasons the font the research. how does nasa balance pure science priorities on the one hand and national needs on the other when determining what research to fund? >> i think that is an important question and what i think of in the context of both earth science and planetary science. these objects hurtling through space could potentially affect human life on earth. and also space weather. what is interesting is the entire community is deeply embracing space weather. the reason i'm saying that is if you go back to the last guiding an important part of the entire program.
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it actually has a specific set of recommendations we are following at the same level as the others. in thisare trying to do case is, whenever we get such implementing with such constraints and overarching policy guides from here or elsewhere. >> would anyone else like to comment on striking that balance? >> we probably don't have a good answer. we are down by these surveys, and it is a science priority, not a national needs-based priority. there will beink another helio physics -- coming up reasonably soon. having been involved in the , if nasa instructs the prioritieswait those , that becomes part of the process. nasa has a whole earth science and applied science area where they are doing critical
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work to support farmers with drought information and crop information. i think that balance is critical . in the earth sciences, i know this is top of mind. >> thank you. touch briefly on -- maybe we can follow up in writing, but i've seen your remarks on the importance of diverse and find the work forces that make these critical scientific achievements possible. can you comment on how important invest in our nation's children through their early education and through collegiate and postgraduate studies to ensure we have a pipeline of people like the four of you who can carry on this important research and make great strides for space exploration? >> if we don't focus on increasing diversity in science, to me, it is not just something nice to do, it is something we
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have to do. at the smithsonian that is what i want to do in air and space, telling diverse stories. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. thank you for this discussion. i want to thank you for bringing up the weather space issue. we passed a bill that i worked , which senator gardner has passed the summit now recently. i think it was weakened as it came out of the house. we are hoping to strengthen that. forecasting these weather events can be extreme. i'm going to ask you to talk
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about that. ournderstanding is capabilities are similar to forecast hurricanes in the 1930's. we have gotten better. if we see an event like you mentioned in your testimony, lloyd's of london and has estimated that is higher than a trillion dollar impact on our economy. enoughas not been coordination. would you tell us why it is important we get going on making sure we have space weather capabilities? the eventow i see like the earthquake in san francisco, we are waiting for the big one. it is how we are going to protect our satellites and power grid. >> anybody else?
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>> space weather is one of those elements of our research program. it is like one of those, when i was in grad school was not as prevalent as we are thinking about it today. we are more dependent on the space than we were 20, 30 years ago. this is becoming more important. speed going at maximum possible, probably not. you see increases of se of the areas we were requesting to accelerate on consideration. respond to the desire that you are talking about. we see the importance in a
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direct fashion. >> it is not a question of if we are going to get a big event, but win. if you see a blackout of the see outages for six months to a year. folks who read the transcript of those hearings, imagine new york without power for a year. that would be catastrophic. >> tying back to the question of thisisce out of may be our best example. >> you mentioned life on mars and the possibility for that. basically you are looking at water-basedife. mars had water for 500 million years. like a short time given how long it took on earth. we wouldou confident find something there?
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>> life arose rapidly here. the first several hundred million years conditions were hostile. as soon as conditions stabilized , we are confident the first microbial life involved. , life remained in oceans for a billion years. it took a billion years to gain complexity. , it is why i am optimistic got complex. we are talking about finding single celled organisms, blue green algae. it is hard to find. that is what i think it will rocks,mans breaking finding one sample is not good enough or you need multiple samples to understand the diversity. >> you brought up finding complex life. by the been intrigued
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idea of civilizations that could communicate with us. should havehat we already found that if it exists. oldearth is 4 billion years , you could conceivably have civilizations that have been in existence for a billion years. searching in the right that mayivilizations be so more -- so far advanced? how do we know that? this is a broad philosophical should beut one we thinking about. >> we are headed down the right path. planets are looking for around other stars we are trying to understand the variety of life that might have evolved in our own solar system. once we start realizing how common life is in the solar
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system it gives us a better basis. once we gain data on xo planets, it gives us conditions to think about how likely is complex life, where should we go to find it? the way we are approaching the problem is correct. >> thank you. >> sen. peters: a few more questions. the james webb space telescope, the successor to the hubble toce telescope is met revolutionize the world understanding of planets and star formation. as you know the telescope was expected to launch in 2007 and cost $500 million. the costs skyrocketed two $5 billion by 2011. now it is delayed to 2021 with cost expected to surpass $9.6
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billion. what explains that incredible increase in cost and delay? question we ask on a regular basis. concluded, the important questions, i think it is more than one issue. the first is excessive optimism. optimisticneed to be . you never start if you therstand how complex challenges ahead. excessive optimism can be pasts -- pathsto that you will regret later. what that means for me as a leader and manager, i want to build in mechanisms that look at this, such as independent to get our arms around it.
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something likeis the development of something .ike 10 new technologies every new technology by itself is hard to guess how long it will take. it is not 10 times harder. it may be 50 100 times harder. means, i wantat to understand how many technologies are there and understand whether we can redevelop these technologies before we lock in cost. the third one, we are learning relative to the independent review board has to do with workng up the task level that we are having there. our challenge related to just doing the work
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and avoiding the impact of human errors that have led to increases in cost. it relates to how we process and make sure our processes are absolutely clear. we understand the culture of the workforce. at many places where this happens. it is done in the entire contractor community. those are the prime reasons we learn from the three. these massive cost overruns caused nasa to reassess the effectiveness of contracting? >> we are talking about different type of contracting in a variety of ways. innovative projects that no one has ever done. it will be hard to get a fixed price contract from a company.
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having been a board member on some of these you would want to understand why the coo wants to do that. it is a matter of trying to understand where the right balance is, which protects the company from new learnings. we have these contracts. the company may regret that in some cases. that is a good thing for them. what it allows us to do is manage as we learn new things, to interact with that company and redirect if you want them to more optimized path. we constantly look at the procurement vehicles we have to understand services contracted. which is totally different.
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it may be that some of these companies may not be ready. but absolutely we are looking at those. to a different topic. nasa maintains a vigorous planetary defense program which includes the near earth object observations project. as you know on april 15 and that is estimated to be 150 feet in diameter was spotted 119,500 miles from earth, a distance closest -- closer than the moon is. what is the greatest challenges our nation faces as it pertains to planetary defense from asteroids? takingeps we need to be some we don't have to rely on sending bruce willis to space to save humanity?
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>> i like that movie. >> me too. that we createse an integrated program that takes advantage of all data sources including from other spaces, i would look for these. we want to integrate that and get a real inventory of what is out there that is a threat. there are certain parts of these data were we're always going to be weaker if we are observing from earth. what the strategic plans have done, we need to go away from earth. you can't observe things coming out of the sun. it is bright. you can't see these bodies. to get that inventory it will have to have an asset that we currently don't have that is away from the earth. once we have it inventory of
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this we will focus on medical rating these threats. it is understanding all of the , depending on the size, the mitigation tools are different. we have one mission we are working on, one type of mitigation impact. we basically ran a spacecraft into a body like this to give it a bump that in a target would bring it out of a coalition zone. a proposed tog on focus on in this greater program. , in addition to nasa's incredible leadership on space exploration and science, we have seen tremendous cooperation and collaboration with the private sector. can and should nasa be doing more to utilize commercial partners and utilize private capital as it pertains to the
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agencies science programs? >> why don't i start with that one. .e are continuously assessing the way we are doing it is to run experiments. closing,le, we are close to finishing commercial data from constellations of small spacecraft. that would provide a new way of getting data into the earth science community in ways that don't build a spacecraft. , cheaper may be better at building these spacecraft. not all data. to serve as this contract. others onseveral commercial spacecraft. , a variety of experiments, to continue our commitment, to
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make sure that we can float things at the private sector can do to the private sector. it is not our intent to compete with the private sector. our intent is to grow and benefit from partnerships to offload things that are possible there so we can focus on the type thatdge of the others have talked about. >> spacex, planet labs, the seat of innovation is in commercial industry. it is definitely the way forward. >> the ecosystem of potential partners has gotten bigger. there are areas like the products in years ago nasa represented a significant fraction of working robotics. today it is a tiny fraction. self driving cars.
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i think there is an opportunity for nasa. boeingtner not only with and spacex but many small inpanies that are growing sectors like robotics, computer science, machine learning and so on. >> it is important for nasa to on whatused on not -- only nasa can do. like building the next giant telescope. making sure we understand this planet, getting humans to mars. >> dr. seger, i want to talk about nasa's mission prioritization. we only have so much money. there are many missions. theyou satisfied with prioritization process they have? >> it is a question for the asking.
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because i would start from you. i do want to hear from each of the witnesses as well. >> you have heard many times how the witnesses go back to the survey. it is this structure that we are forced to abide by. institutiony any structure that has been around for half a century should be reviewed if it is still effective. i think it is time to take a better look at it. there are many areas, room for improvement. i want go into it now. >> give us one example. >> in many areas we have the james webb space telescope. the whole community feels if they don't have one mission the community buys into it
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will never get selected. what this means is the community wants to put forward missions are complicated. the question is are we at a place of maturity where we should have more focused missions that are big but not try to do everything in one place? we can't do that in the current formulation of the survey. and the younger people not knowing about -- sometimes they know more. they use instagram and do new things. but the hierarchy of the service, senior people who don't necessarily vote the same way the new generation would. >> the kid who came up with instagram was a high school kid from massachusetts. you are right. >> the process has been
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making processes. the academy was responding to a nasa request, looked at the process as a whole. one advantage of doing things many times for multiple ,ommunities, astrophysics planetary science, you can look across the different communities and see where did the process work best, when where mistakes made? one of the mistakes made in the past is we did not properly costs something before recommendations were made. ,f we were to go back in time we would have preferred to be able to build four meter james webb telescope's. is of the lessons learned missions going into the survey
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onlt so in as vague ideas powerpoint. they are studied extensively. one of the investments nasa has been making, i think it is important to do, the potential missions are studied. when they are prioritized we know what we are looking at. this is a cost-benefit analysis and we need -- we need to have a preliminary understanding of cost. >> i was involved in the last services. isil the process being hugely reviewed and given a lot of thought. i think it is an important and strong process that needs to be adhered to. it allows the best science to come forward. it is not the person who shouts the loudest or has the my -- or
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has the most connections. that allows the u.s. to retain our position. >> how do you correct that? >> in the planetary science, that happens well. you have brought input from the community. it was argued out in many small panels, argued in larger panels. >> are you are happy. >> i am happy with the prioritization. not inreally glad i am charge of science prioritization. i would not know how to do it. in the absence of framing activity that involves many voices in different ways, it has been successful activity. like every human endeavor, it should always be questioned and improved as we go forward.
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i resonate with the comments she made. it is important in these panels them a a diverse set of opinions are being listened to. that is where good decisions come from. people from different types of backgrounds and priorities, some that have been in the private sector and understand that interface, it is helpful. so that is important. i agree with her. question continually if we are doing it the right way. i don't know how i could do the job without her. >> thank you for your service. >> i want to thank the witnesses for your testimony. i think this hearing was productive and your expertise made it so.
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the hearing record will remain open for the next two weeks. senators are asked to submit questions for the record. for the witnesses, i would ask you respond with written answers as soon as possible. with that this hearing is adjourned.
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>> on c-span this week in prime time, the 2018 national governors association summer meeting on transformation of the workforce by artificial intelligence. senator cory booker
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and john federman. friday, more with elizabeth worn, kamala harris and deborah holland. this week in prime time,, on the free c-span radio app. examines hearing foreign influence operations and their use of social media. you can see it tonight at 8:00 eastern. tonight, testimony from andrew wheeler on his agency priorities. he spoke before the senate works committee.
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nominee brett kavanaugh continues to meet with senators on capitol hill. follow the confirmation process on c-span. on watch anytime on listen with the free c-span app. tomorrow morning, remarks from ivanka trump on current workforce issues00. she will speak at an event00000 hosted by axial00000000000000000000000. 000000000000000000000 a hearing examines the current role of the north atlantic treaty000000 organization000000. we will hear from richard it is hosted by the senate foreign relations committee. where found out that many of
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the narratives introduce in the 2016 election were not both american origin. afterwards,ght on former cia intelligence officer destroybook the plot to democracy. bythese were techniques used russia which could not keep pace with the news media world. it is only when social media came to the height of its power. the ability to affect people inside your channel or feed and they would you the same thing, anentially, create
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unbreakable link of narratives. at that point, nothing you believe can be real. including the president. on c-span twos book tv. earlier today, he said he would consider all candidates including trump when it comes to 2020. this is about one hour 10 minutes. >> good morning, i am chief of


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