A Research Coordination Network (RCN) is a virtual collaboration structure that helps support groups of investigators to communicate and coordinate their research across disciplinary, organizational, divisional, and geographic boundaries. NASA has modified a mechanism utilized by NSF to achieve the research goals for the Astrobiology Program.

The NASA Astrobiology RCNs are a mechanism for community collaboration. Each RCN will have a steering committee comprised of the PIs of all teams who have elected to join, both from large teams selected from the ICAR solicitation as well as smaller teams from relevant ROSES R&A programs. Additionally, the NASA Astrobiology Program, along with representatives of relevant research elements and SMD Divisions, will identify co-leads and potential members of the RCN and provide funding to support the logistical requirements of the RCN. The Astrobiology RCNs will be regularly reviewed (~6 years) by a Senior Review-like independent panel of experts to provide input to any decision to continue, modify, or sunset the RCN. Because RCNs are only a method for coordination, the sunsetting of an RCN will have no effect on the primary research award, which will continue through the original duration. New RCNs may also be established as the science in astrobiology evolves, new missions come on line, or the priorities of NASA shift.

Expected outcomes for the Astrobiology Program RCNs:

  • Investigators carry out and propose interdisciplinary research that addresses new topics through new collaborations.
  • Produces a plan for utilization of current mission data (if applicable).
  • Spawns ideas for new and exciting missions, and encourages participation in and contributions to missions from planning through operations (if applicable).
  • Identifies new targeted technologies or instrumentation needed, but not yet reported elsewhere.
  • Influences Decadal Surveys for all relevant NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Divisions by advancing the science and readiness for missions, and through white paper submissions.
  • Enhances international engagement.
  • Supports continued development of the astrobiology community.

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