Nov. 14, 2017
Feature Story

National Academy Call for White Papers

Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe

In preparation for and as an input to the upcoming decadal surveys in astronomy and astrophysics and planetary science, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has been charged with carrying out a study on the astrobiology science strategy as it relates to the search for life in the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems (

The committee is requesting community input in the form of white papers. Please find below recommended topics for white papers and submission guidelines. White papers will be accepted from immediately until 8 January, 2018. Papers received earlier will have a higher liklihood of being read and considered.

Please note that multiple authorship accurately reflecting a consensus among many individuals is strongly encouraged. Everyone in research communities associated with astrobiology is encouraged to author or collaborate on these papers.

Suggested Topics

The following topics derive from the study Statement of Task and will be useful to the committee during its investigation and deliberation:

• Identify areas of significant scientific or technological progress since publication of the NASA Astrobiology Strategy 2015

• Identify important scientific or technological topics omitted from the NASA Astrobiology Strategy 2015 and which have seen advancement since publication of the strategy

• Identify promising key research goals in the field of the search for signs of life in which progress is likely in the next 20 years

• Identify key technological challenges in astrobiology as they pertain to the search for life in the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems

• Identify key scientific questions in astrobiology as they pertain to the search for life in the solar system and extrasolar planetary systems

• Discuss scientific advances that can be addressed by U.S. and international space missions and relevant ground-based activities in operation or funded and in development

• Discuss how to expand partnerships (interagency, international and public/private) in furthering the study of life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe
Please note that white papers should not revisit or attempt to redefine the scientific priorities or mission recommendations from previous decadal surveys or strategies.

Guidelines for White Paper Format and Submission

To facilitate document management, please follow these guidelines:

• White papers may not exceed 5 pages in length. This includes all figures, tables, references, and appendices. Web links to other documents may be included in the references.

• Documents should be single spaced, use 12-pt font, and have 1-inch margins on all sides.

• A cover page may be included and will not count toward the 5-page limit. It should state the title of the white paper, the primary author’s name, phone number, institution, and
email address, and a list of co-authors with their respective institutions.

• The permission of each co-author must be explicitly given prior to submission

• Only papers in Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx) and Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) formats will be

• File sizes should be made as small as possible. White papers larger than 10 Mb in size
cannot be accepted. For file management purposes, please compress figures as much as possible. Hyperlinks to higher resolution versions of illustrations are permissible.

White papers must be submitted through the online ( Only white papers submitted by means of this system will be accepted. Submissions must be made before 11:59:59 EST, Monday, 8 January, 2018. Questions on the process can be submitted to Any white papers submitted to that email address will be returned with directions to the website.