Sample return missions can take decades to launch and return, but such samples can lead to major scientific breakthroughs. These are examples of past (Apollo), present (OSIRIS-REx), and possible future  (Mars Sample Return) NASA missions.This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right).Artist's concept of a proposed Mars sample return mission.Exoplanets 'Great Hall' (WFIRST)
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Sample return missions can take decades to launch and return, but such samples can lead to major scientific breakthroughs. These are examples of past (Apollo), present (OSIRIS-REx), and possible future (Mars Sample Return) NASA missions.NASA
This illustration shows what the TRAPPIST-1 system might look like from a vantage point near planet TRAPPIST-1f (at right).NASA/JPL-Caltech
Artist's concept of a proposed Mars sample return mission.NASA/JPL-Caltech
Exoplanets 'Great Hall' (WFIRST)NASA
Dec. 20, 2018
Program News

National Academies Strategic Documents

In 2018, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) released three congressionally mandated reports that will help guide space research related to astrobiology for decades to come. The strategy documents cover research in the areas of extrasolar planets, curation and analysis of extraterrestrial samples, and astrobiology. All three documents are freely available as downloadable pdfs from the National Academies of Science, and hard copies can be purchased at the NAS site.

The first document, the “Exoplanet Science Strategy,” was released in September and was prepared as input for the upcoming decadal surveys in astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary science. Information for the exoplanet strategy was gathered through Community White Papers submitted between January 22, 2018 thru March 9, 2018. These papers are also available to view through the NAS.

The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope during assembly in a clean room at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The primary mirror of the James Webb Space Telescope during assembly in a clean room at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.Image credit: A. Gronstal / NASA Astrobiology.

In October, the NAS published the “The Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe.” A public briefing and webcast was held in conjunction with the release, and is available to view online at: https://vimeo.com/295890366. The astrobiology strategy document builds upon the 2015 NASA Astrobiology Strategy, which is available here.

The third release, “Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis,” was made available by the NAS in December. This publication focuses on the current capabilities for analysis and curation of extraterrestrial samples, as well as the future requirements for upcoming sample return missions.

Artist's concept of a proposed Mars sample return mission.
Artist's concept of a proposed Mars sample return mission.Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NAS Strategy Documents:

The strategy documents are available as books from the NAS and can be downloaded for free in pdf form. Hard copies are also available for purchase from the NAS.

The Exoplanet Science Strategy is available at:
http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/CurrentProjects/SSB_180659.

The Astrobiology Science Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe is available at: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/CurrentProjects/SSB_180812.

Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis is available at:
http://sites.nationalacademies.org/SSB/CurrentProjects/SSB_178893