tv NAS As Science Missions CSPAN August 7, 2018 3:39pm-5:07pm EDT
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to stop it." what would to be this week in prime time on c-span2. tv this week in prime time on c-span2. >> tomorrow, whether or not to protect sensitive light but really event hosted by the association for education in journalism and mass medication live wednesday at 1:45 p.m. eastern on c-span. former law clerks to brett kavanaugh will describe their time working for him and how he approached his job as a judge on the d.c. court of circuit -- circuit court of appeals. live coverage begins thursday at noon eastern also on c-span. examining thering future of nasa missions and what the top priorities will be over the next decade. we also hear about what the current frontiers of space explanation look like and how nasa plans to emphasize its research in the future. this is helped by the senate finance committee.
it is one hour and a half. -- this is held by the senate finance committee. it is one hour and a half. sen. cruz: good afternoon. this 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? in 300 b.c., the greek philosopher epicurus assumed that "other worlds with plants and other living things, some of them similar and some of them different than ours, must exist." the basic question of wondering what lies out there has driven civilizations to risk life and limb, to explore not only this planet, but venture into the solar system. in 1977, nasa began an effort to
try to better answer this question by launching voyager 1 and voyager 2, originally 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 interstellar space, and voyager 2 is in the outermost layer of the heliosphere, where the solar wind is slowed by the pressure of interstellar gas. as each spacecraft continues its voyage and transmits scientific information back 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. the search for life is not just a question of casual interest. it is an integral part of nasa's core mission. the nasa transition authorization act of 2017, which was signed into law by president trump, this committee authored and added a short phrase to nasa's mission. "the search for life's origin, 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. just before our last hearing, the journal "science" published a report on radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on mars. using radar profiles collected 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 announcement of this discovery, nasa reported that the curiosity rover had 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, hopefully this year, it is imperative we not only make progress answering but that we also equip nasa with the capabilities it needs to support science missions and priorities that will lead to discoveries across our solar system. this is a momentous time to be involved in space exploration, and i look forward to the testimony of our esteemed witnesses. now recognized senator markey, the ranking member, or his opening remarks. sen. markey: 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. currently, nasa's science mission directorate funds space science missions and research in a number of crucial areas, including astrophysics, planetary science, and helio physics. one of the portfolios that is often overlooked, but is 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. nasa's essential earth observation missions, including the carbon monitoring system, the orbiting carbon observatory 2, and the gravity recovery and climate experiment, or grace, give us evidence that the climate is changing. and if we are willing to pay attention, this information could help us prepare for a more dangerous future. we must be sure that nasa's earth science program has the resources necessary to provide our 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 future generations to come.
finally, we are very fortunate to have sara seager, professor of physics and planetary science at m.i.t., who is a coinvestigator on nasa's test 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 sides of the same question, the 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 team of exceptional scientists and collaborators. we look forward to the testimony from our witnesses this afternoon. again, we thank you all for helping us understand better
what our mission here in congress should be, to help you accomplish this goal. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. cruz: i would now recognize the ranking member, senator nelson. if you care to make an opening remark. sen. nelson: thank you, mr. chairman. i would point out that the science mission directorate is an incredible amount that they do. 30% of the nasa budget is here. and they are operating 60 missions on 80 spacecraft. it is vast. they want to unlock the secrets of the universe. you all have talked about the search for life and improving life here on earth. so, legislation we are putting
together is to add the search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and the future of the universe. that is about everything, all rolled into one. so, this is one of the gee whiz parts of nasa. and it is complimentary with the human missions of nasa because 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 we get there 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 will also complement, and vice versa, the science mission directorate. it's going to be an exciting time for nasa. thank you, mr. chairman. sen. cruz: thank you. you 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. they were too young to have any idea what i was talking about. pleased to welcome each of the witnesses here today. we will start with dr. thomas zuburchen, the associate administrator for nasa's science mission directorate. previously, he was a professor of space science and aerospace engineering. -- engineering at the university of michigan in ann arbor.
his experience includes research in solar, space systems, experimental space research, and 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 from the university of bern in switzerland. our next witness is dr. ellen stofan, who is director of the smithsonian national air and space museum. i think it may be a federal law that every visitor and particularly every child who comes to washington must go to the smithsonian's air and space museum. she's the seventh person to lead the museum since apollo 11 astronaut michael collins oversaw its founding in 1976, and is the first woman appointed to the position. she previously served as an
-- as nasa's chief scientist for three years from 2013 to 2016. in 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 science programs in helio physics, earth science, planetary science, and astrophysics. prior to that, she served as the chief scientist for the new millennial program at the jet propulsion laboratory in california. she received her phd in geological sciences from brown university. dr. david spergel is the charles a. young professor of astronomy and astrophysical sciences at princeton university, my alma mater. for over two decades, he has worked 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-first. he has been involved in many aspects of the mission and has contributed countless hours of work on a telescope that will let humanityt -- see further into the universe then ever before. he received his phd in astronomy from harvard. finally, dr. seager, professor of physics and planetary science at the massachusetts institute of technology. a native of toronto, her research has made unprecedented discoveries and has gone leaps and bounds to expand humanity's knowledge in the field of astronomy. dr. seager's research has introduced new ideas for the study of exoplanets. in fact, she was part of the team to detect the first
emission of light from an exoplanet. additionally, she has committed swathes of research on all kinds interiors of and all kinds of exoplanets. she received her phd in astronomy from harvard university. i would note, with all of these phd's, i think the senators here are all badly undereducated. with that, we will have our first witness, dr. zuburchen. dr. zuburchen: thank you so much. chairman cruz, 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, which will touch the sun by flying deep through its atmosphere. the first spacecraft designed to do so, and will revolutionize our understanding of the sun's corona and expand our knowledge on the origin and evolution of the solar wind. this mission will also make critical contributions to our ability to forecast changes in space weather that affect life and society's essential technological infrastructure on the near earth. it will will join numerous other exciting missions launched in just a few months past. tess launched in mid-april, and nasa's next planet-hunting mission, searching for planets orbiting nearby stars. on july 25, we started again conducting the first-ever
transit survey that is expected to catalog exoplanet candidates. including 500 earth sized planets. it will identify targets for more detailed characterization, with the james webb space telescope and other missions. also launched in may, nasa's newest mars lander, insight, is now en route for a november touchdown. it will join a compliment of nasa rovers, landers, and orbiters on the 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. on june 29, the ecostress
instrument was carried to the space station by commercial resupply mission. it categorizes agricultural water use and plant stress around the globe and will 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 was mentioned. whether developing the tools to predict severe weather or drought or understanding the complex interactions of the earth's system, what we learned learn here affects our lives. in the midst of the 2017 hurricane season, data produced by nasa's satellites were used to support real-time decision-making and response efforts by fema and others. 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 and leveraging nasa's extensive lunar science and -- experience and data.
nasa is jumpstarting commercial partnerships, innovative approaches for launching next generation sophisticated science instruments, and the development of small rovers that will reach the moon's surfaced via rover -- via commercial landers. with regard to the hearing topic, planetary science provides 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. nasa is also planning a potential mars sample return mission, a top priority identified by the scientific community in a most recent talk. during 2019, nasa will continue development of the cutting edge mission to fly by jupiter's ocean moon, one of the most promising targets for life in -- for finding life in our solar system. in many ways, nasa astrophysics and planetary science programs are working more closely than -- together than ever.
examining how habitable environment develop and contribute to the search for life, as will be discussed by the other witnesses later. nasa is committed to discussing the big questions, but >> in 2021, nasa observatories will be joined by the james webb space telescope, capable of viewing the atmospheres of nearby planets outside the solar system. once the telescope and instruments are fully integrated and perform superbly, the spacecraft elements comprised of a tennis court sized sunshield, completely assembled and undergoing testing. in march 2018, nasa recognized it would take longer and cost more than previously estimated, due to issues involving integration and testing of the elements. i established the results to an to an independent review board,
for complete development. the irb 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. sen. cruz: thank you. ellen: chairman cruz, ranking members and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to discuss the search for life beyond earth. my colleagues will discuss the 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. based on our understanding of how life arose here, it requires long-standing bodies of liquid water. chemical signatures indicate life evolved rapidly once conditions stabilized, which chemical signatures indicate was 3.8 billion years ago. we know that life is tenacious, diverse, and highly adaptable. astro 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. the next step is to identify environments potentially 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 both have liquid water oceans that likely been stable for over one billion years, likely enriched by volcanic eruptions from the moon's inner cores, a possible source for both nutrients and energy. both moons vent into space and could easily be sampled by spacecraft without landing. a craft sampled the water on a flyby and 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. we need to go back to europa with better instruments. how will we know life when we see it? through years of peer-reviewed research, we have developed something called the ladder of life. it lays out what to measure and how. it begins with a habitable environment with rungs for biomolecules, metabolism, and ultimately, darwinian evolution. thanks to decades of nasa spacecraft missions, we know how to take the next steps in the search for life. on those two moons. on mars. eventually even on titan. 3.8 billion years ago, around
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 chemists on the ground could do more than identify evidence, they could study its variation, complexity, relationship to life on earth, much more effectively than our 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. putting humans on mars by 2038, 20 years from now, is not nearly as audacious as landing on the moon in eight years, which the united states accomplished years
ago. nasa has the commercial partnerships and scientific expertise, as we demonstrate each day with research groups. the problem is extremely well scoped and studied. we need only accept the challenge. putting aside the amazing scientific and technological dividends of a mars shot, think of the consider the political, cultural and historic benefits that came from the moon shots of 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. sne. cruz: thank you. dr. spergel. dr. 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. my spoken remarks 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 exploring 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 atoms, density of matter, and properties of the initial fluctuations, described all the basic properties in the universe. 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. understanding the nature of dark 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 . astronomers have learned the solar system is far from unique. using observations from the kepler spacecraft and ground-based observatories, they discovered thousands of extra planets -- of exoplanets. shakespeare's line, that there 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. -- should view many nearby planets. when launched, the james webb space telescope will be able to 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 image planets 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 by 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. jwst's delays are frustrating to all of us. while the report by therfe was hard to read at times, i believe jwst will be a flagship of all of nasa and the 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. despite these challenges, this 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 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. astronomers tell us, with good 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. 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 the delays and cost growth, the community is tremendously enthusiastic because webb will provide our first ability to study xoplanets. -- 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 giant burst of energy, flares, ultraviolet radiation that would frequently bathed the planet's surface. guest: in the 150'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 life that evolve their would be 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 exoplanets 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 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 work of blocking the light, and the technical reasons behind that are why the starship -- star shade can already find earth analogs, building upon large radio employable's,
space-based radio deployable antennas. nasa has a directed effort to mature such technologies by 2023, though it could happen soon with more funding. the star shade with w first -- ability to discover dozens of new exoplanets and the first chance we have to find planets like earth. -- to rendezvous with it on orbit, and nasa has directed the w first project to be operational with star shade. and later by the project, pending 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. we have some tough priority 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. >> thank you very much, to each 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 matter, and why should that be a 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. >> since 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 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 element which i see as a professor, working with students. this is a question that i think 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 education community. i think this is one of the side benefits. many of us do this because we want to know the answer. 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. dr. spergel, you previously tweeted, what is driving the acceleration of the universe? how did our galaxy and its neighbors form and evolve? what determines the architecture of exoplanets? the u.s. should be leading the world in addressing these big questions. is the united states currently leading the world in addressing 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
both excellence coming out of 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 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. they are pouring money into solar panel technology, nuclear power, space. it sounds trite, what we want to maintain our healthy budget for innovative science. >> this committee is working on a 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. let me ask the witnesses, what do you see as the science-related priorities that are most important to be reflected in the bill? >> for me, and i'll put on my hat as former chair of the space studies board, what we try to do at the surveys is identify what i think are the top scientific priorities in each of the areas
that nasa science mission directorate works. so, 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. 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. and 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. it is a huge problem, but something that america is leading the way. the star shade is not being developed in any other country. >> we want to look -- to search for faraway planets, but we also want to make sure we do our work here on earth correctly. nasa has been a leader in 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 zuburchen, is it important to understanding threats like climate science? >> the earth science program is an important one for the nation. the earth science program we had a strong. we have an increasing number of spacecrafts in orbit. last i counted was 17. missions in orbit and several in development. and i do believe that this very important and unique program, complementary to other efforts in the government and beyond, is very important for nasa and the nation. >> will you make a commitment to 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 space exploration relates to, or 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, saturn's moon, titan, planets 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 hole on earth 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. >> another example that comes to mind is studying ice planets and then looking at glaciers. you are looking at the physics, the remote-sensing technologies. -- is launching in september.
we used many of the same remote-sensing technologies when we go visit planets in our own solar system as we do looking back on earth. one of the things we often see 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 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. >> one of the things i have personally been involved with in the past are the spinouts that came from developing technology, including electronics developed environmental conditions on mars that are routinely used in manufacturing to prevent discharges from happening, and many others.
there are so many. we could talk to you for hours. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and ranking member for holding mishearing. 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 the doctor, also a brown alumnus. i am glad the chair recognize do is the first woman director of the museum. it is very important for girls and young women to see women lead in science, so for both you and dr. sager, hefting -- having a 50-50 panel is a nice visual. i'd like to start by touching on space weather. dr. spence leads the institute for the study of earth, oceans and space at the university avenue -- the university of new hampshire, a world renowned
expert on space weather. he leads a research group that studies the physics of cosmic plasmas from the sun's corona to interplanetary space to earth's upper atmosphere using experimental modeling techniques. this research will ultimately help enhance our understanding of the potential threat space weather can present to earth. that is why investing in space weather research is so critical. is nasa providing the resources the nationallement space weather action plan and strategy? >> we have started with the last two or three years of investments that followed the plan. we have started to implement some of these recommendations. not all of them are fully funded at the level that was initially foreseen, and a number of acrossions are happening agencies of how we best do that.
we are coming up with innovative ideas to actually get space weather data in a collaboration between nasa and noaa. it is that level of discussion we are having as we go forward and come up with, as a full implementation of this action plan. we are on the way. could we go faster? probably. >> that is helpful. i note that as i understand it, nasa funds science missions based on priorities set by the national academies of science. that makes a lot of sense, but there are obviously other, we might refer to them as applied research -- reasons to fund 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, one i think about a
lot in the context of earth science and planetary science. these objects are hurtling through space and can potentially affect human life on earth and space weather. in this case, 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 document of the space weather, it is an important part of being -- of the entire program. it actually has a specific set of recommendations we are following at the same level as the others. what we are trying to do in this case is, whenever we get such guidance from the science community, to implement with the constraints and overarching policy guides we are getting from here or elsewhere. >> would anyone else like to comment on striking that balance? and i can fortunately we are bound and you are right it is a science priority not
national needs these priority. >> be involved in the process if nasa struck some to wait those priorities with those evaluation that is part of the process. >> nasa has the whole area where they are doing critical work to support farmers and cost information and i think that balance is important and critical. >> i just want to touch base and maybe we can follow up in writing but i your remarks on the importance to diversify the workforce to make all of these critical scientific achievement possible can you
comment how important it is best the early education as well as collegiate and postgraduate studies to ensure we have a pipeline like the four of you to carry on this important research >> if we don't focus on on increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math, we are doing a disservice by not tapping into our entire population. to me, it is something we have to do. it is something we focus on at the smithsonian, and that is one of the things i hope to do at air and space, focus on telling the diverse stories as we do across the smithsonian, to inspire the next generation to be the innovators and explorers. >> thank you. member,hairman, ranking i want to sit -- thank you, senator, for bringing up space
weather, an issue that the university of michigan is involved in. some panelists may know we have passed the bill i worked on with sen. gardner: of the space act, that cameh out of the house committee recently. it was weakened as it came out of the house and we are hoping to strengthened it so everybody is on the same page when it comes to forecasting weather events, which can be extreme. i will ask you to talk a little bit about that. my understanding is, our space weather forecasting abilities are similar to our abilities to forecast hurricanes in the 1930's, which wasn't all that great. we have gotten better, but if we see an event like you mentioned in your testimony, the carrington event, lloyd's of london estimated that is in excess of a $1 trillion impact on the economy. this is significant. we have not been acting quick enough. there has not been enough
coordination. we need to make sure this is homeland security, defense, all sorts of issues related to it. tell us why it is important we get going on making sure we have a space weather capability. >> i am not an expert on space weather forecasting. i see the carrington event like the earthquake in san francisco, we are waiting for the big one. when it comes, it is not just forecasting but also how we will protect satellites and power grid. >> anybody else? >> space weather is one of those elements of our research program anmany ways, like if you are esteemed faculty member, you would say the same thing. , it wasid grad school not as prevalent as we are thinking about it today. the reason for that is, we are more dependent on space than we were 20, 30 years ago.
this is becoming more important. we have made strides towards this. are we going at maximum speed possible? probably not. we are seeking to do our best. if you look at the 2019 budget, you see increases in areas we are requesting to accelerate some of the work under consideration in this building. to thisek to respond desire you are talking about, because we see the importance in a direct fashion. >> it is not a question of if we will have a big event, it is just when. we are past due. if you see a blackout of the grid and the big transformers are burned out, you could see power outages for six months to a year. folks who may read the transcript, think of new york city without power for one year. that would be catastrophic. this is an investment we need to make in a thoughtful way. >> back to the question about
what practical can come out of space exploration, this could be the best example. >> you mentioned life on mars and the possibility for that. looking atu are water-based life and mars had water for about 500 million years. seems like a fairly short time given how long it took on earth. why are you confident that is enough time that we might be of the something? life arose rapidly here on earth once conditions stabilized. the first several hundred million years on earth, conditions were hostile. as soon as conditions stabilized, within 100 million years, we are confident the first microbial life involved on earth. life remained in the oceans for over one billion years, and it took over one billion years for life to gain any complexity. that is why i am optimistic that life did it evolve on mars. i am not optimistic it got very
complex, so we are talking about finding fossil microbes, single celled organisms, blue-green algae type things, so hard to find. that is why i think it will take humans on the planet raking up breaking open rocks to find life. one sample isn't good enough. you need multiple samples. life. mentioned complex we have been intrigued about the idea that there may be civilizations out there that could communicate with us, to be advanced. some argue that we should have probably already found that if it exists, and the fact that old, is 4.5 billion years the universe is 14 billion years old, so you could conceivably civilizations in existence for a billion years. when you think about how much advancement we have had, are we confident we are searching in the right way for civilizations
that may be so far advanced and may not be communicating the way we do? how do we know that? this is a broad philosophical restaurant but we have to think about this if we are putting resources into the most intriguing question of life on another planet. >> i think we are heading down the right path. that is to build upon while we look for xo planets, we try to understand the nature of life that may have evolved in our own solar system. once we realize how common life is in this solar system, it gives us a better basis, and ts,e we gain data on exoplane that gives us a basis to start thinking about how likely complex life is. where should we go to find it? i think we need more data. the way we are approaching the problem is correct. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator. we will do a few more questions. the james webb
space telescope, the successor to the hubble space telescope, is bent to revolutionize the world's understanding of plan -- planets and star formations. the telescope was initially expected to launch in 2007 and cost roughly $500 million. the script -- the cost skyrocketed to $5 billion by 2011 and it is delayed until 2021 with costs expected to surpass $9.6 billion. incrediblens that increase in costs and delay and deployment? >> that is the question i am asking myself and my team on a regular basis. i can tell you what i think we have concluded, or what we think are important questions. that more than one issue affects that. the first, i would say is excessive optimism. innovative need -- innovators
need to be optimistic. you never start if you understand how complex the challenge is ahead. excessive optimism can be trapping you into paths that you will regret later. what that means for me as a leader and a manager, i want to build in mechanisms that actually look at this, like davidndent reviews the talked about earlier, to really get our arms around it. the second one i would argue is the confluence of something like the development of something .ike 10 new technologies every new technology, by itself, is hard to guess how long it will take. 10 together is much harder. it is notched 10 times harder. not 10 times harder, it may be 50 times harder. for me, that means if i look at missions now, i want to understand how many technologies
really are there and try to understand whether we can actually develop these technologies before we lock in costs. the third one, i think we are learning now, the thing that led to the costs and the independent review board has to do with closing off at the test level the work we are having there. , challengesdings the work anding avoiding the impact of human errors and embedded problems that have led to increases in costs. howelates to how we manage, we process. making sure our processes are clear and we understand the culture of the workforce. -- this is done in the entire contracting community.
those are the three prime reasons and lessons we learned. >> have these cost overruns costd nasa to reassess plus for big projects? >> yes, we are talking about different kind of contracting in a variety of ways. new, innovative projects of the type nobody has ever done. it will be hard to get a fixed from a company. having been a board member on some of these companies, you would want to understand why the ceo wants to do that. for us, it is a matter of trying to understand where the right balance is between fixed price contract, which protects the government from new learning, and we have some of these fixed price contract, and in some cases, the company may regret that. in some cases, that is a good
thing. in the cost-plus contract, this allows us to manage as we go forward, as we learn and learn new things, to actually interact with the company and redirect a more optimized path. for us, we constantly look at the procurement vehicles we have and try to understand whether there are new ones, like services contracts of the type we are using in the lunar program, which is totally different than anything else. risk with that, because it may be that some of these companies may not be ready, but we are looking at those. >> let me shift to a different topic, your written testimony states nasa maintains a vigorous planetary defense program, which includes the near earth object observations project. earlier this year, on april 15, an asteroid named asteroid
estimated 150 feet in diameter, was spotted 119,500 miles from earth, closer than the moon. what do you see as the greatest challenges that our nation faces as it pertains to planetary defense from asteroids? what steps do we need to take so we don't have to rely on bruce to saveo space humanity? >> i like that movie. >> me too. >> what we have done in 2019 in the budget proposal is, we propose we create an integrated program that takes advantage of all data sources, including from past things, to go look for these bodies. we want to integrate that and basically get a real inventory of what is out there that is a threat, 140 meters and above. there are certain parts of these
data where we are always going to be weaker if we are observing from earth, and what the strategic plans have done is proposed we need to go away from earth because you can't observe things coming out of the sun. it is because it is bright. so you can't see these bodies. for us to get that inventory probably will have to have an asset that we currently don't have, that is away from the earth and can look back. once we have an inventory of we will focus on mitigating these threats. thes understanding all threats on mitigating the threats and depending on the size, the mitigation tools are different. we have one mission that we are currently working on which is one type of mitigation that has an impact. we basically ran a space craft into a body like this to give it a bump, that would bring it out of a collision zone.
those challenges were focusing on a proposal in this integrated program. , in addition to nasa's incredible leadership on space exploration and science, we have also seen tremendous cooperation and collaboration with the private sector. can and should nasa be doing commerciallize partners and private capital as it pertains to the agencies' science priorities? >> why don't i start with that answer? we are continually assessing this. the way we are doing it is to run experiments. closing, we we are are close to finishing off a commercial data by from of smalltions spacecraft. that would provide a new way of getting data into the earth
science community in ways we don't even build a space craft. companies may be better or cheaper at building some of these spacecraft. not all data, but some data we the serviceso do, contract of the type we are using with lunar, and there are several others. hosting payloads on commercial spacecraft, we have three currently in our program. we are running a variety of experiments like that to see .hat is there our commitment is to continually do that and make sure we can offload things that the private sector can do, to the private sector. --is now or -- not our can not our intent to compete with the private sector. our intent is to benefit from positive partnerships, to offload rings that are possible -- things that are possible so we can focus some a leading-edge -- focus on the leading edge. >> he may be talking about planet labs.
innovation in private commercial industry can afford to take risks nasa cannot. it is definitely the way forward. echoes system of potential partners has gotten bigger. it is not just be our space -- vr is. 20 years ago, nasa represented a significant fraction of all working robotics. today, it is a tiny fraction, with money going into self driving cars and things in factories. i think there is an opportunity for nasa. there is an opportunity to partner not only with the , but manyd spacex's small companies that are growing in sectors like robotics, computer science, machine learning and so on. >> i would add that i think it is important for nasa to stay focused on what only nasa can do, and that hinges around things like building next giant
telescope, focusing on making sure we understand this planet, and getting humans to mars. >> thank you. i want to talk about nasa's mission prioritization process. we only have so much money. there are many missions. are you satisfied with the prioritization process they have at nasa? >> it is a question worth asking to everybody. we have surveys, but -- >> i will start with you. you are from massachusetts i thought i would start with you, but i want to hear from each of the rest of the witnesses. >> you have heard many times how the witnesses always go back to the survey, and it is the structure that we are forced to abide by. i want to say that any institution, any structure that has been around for more than half a century, i think it
should be reviewed to see if it is still effective. maybe it has been reviewed already but i think it is time to take a better look. many areas have room for improvement. i won't go into that now. >> why don't you give us one example of improvement? >> i will give you one. in many areas of space science, we have the james webb space telescope. the whole community feels that if they don't have one mission, the entire community buys into, reflected by get the survey. this means the community wants to put forward missions that are very complicated. we at ation is, are place of maturity in space technology worship -- where we should have focus missions? we can't do that in the current formulation of the survey. we also had another comment about younger people not knowing about, sometimes younger people know more. to do newhe first
things, but also, the way the hierarchy of the survey is, the top panel is senior people who don't necessarily vote, wouldn't necessarily vote the same way the new generation would. >> the kid who came up with kidagram was a high school from massachusetts. you are right. >> the process has been receptive of making prioritization's and it is a process that can and is being improved. responding toith a nasa request, actually looked .t the process as a whole one advantage of doing things many times and doing it for ,ultiple communities astrophysics or science from space, planetary science, is you can look across the different communities and see, when did the process work best?
when were mistakes made? i think one of the mistakes that has been made in the past, to go back to jw st, we didn't properly study and cost something before the recommendations were made. if we went back in time, it would be great but i think we would have preferred to be able to build a four meter james webb telescope that would have launched for less money a decade ago, and do other things. one of the lessons learned is, missions going into the survey don't go in as vague ideas on powerpoint. they are studied extensively beforehand. one of the investments nasa has been making leading up to 2020, i think it is important to do for other surveys and other fields, is potential missions are studied. prioritized, we know what we are looking at. ultimately, this is a cost than if it analysis and we need to have at least a preliminary understanding of cost.
>> i was involved in the last 2 planetary science studies and chief scientist at nasa watch, survey goingence forward. i saw the process being hugely reviewed and given a lot of thought on how to improve it. i think it is an important and strong process that needs to be adhered to, because it allows the best science to come forward. it is not the person who shouts the loudest or has the most connections, it is the best science. to me, that allows the u.s. to retain our position as leading. >> how do you correct that soap -- so the people who yell the loudest don't win? earthplanetary and science, i saw that happen really well where you have wrought input from the community. there was input sought from across the scientific community. it was argued out in many small panels, argued out in larger panels and i thought the process
-- >> you are happy with the prioritization? >> yes. >> interesting. >> i am glad i am not in charge of science prioritization. the reason is, we don't know how to do it and in the absence of a activity- a framing that involves many voices, for me, the survey has been successful. endeavor,very human it should always be questioned and should be improved going forward. i resonate with the doctor's comments. this is important, that in these panels, the first set of opinions are being listened to. that is where good decisions come from. people from different types of backgrounds with different kinds of priorities, for example some but also have been in the private sector and actually understand that interface. it is helpful. in some of this, that is
important. i agree with her. we should as a community continually question whether we are doing at the right way. overall, miami happy we have this. i don't know how i could do the job without it. >> thank you all for your service to our country, and to the planet. thank you. >> i want to thank you to the here for for being your testimony. this was helpful and productive and your expertise is what made it so. the hearing record will remain open for the next two weeks. during that time, senators are asked to submit questions for the record and for the witnesses, i would ask that you with written answers as soon as possible. with that, this hearing is adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018]
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