Members of the NASAInSight mission team have reported on the crucial role that early career researchers play in designing, developing, and carrying out planetary science missions. From concept to completion, a mission that travels beyond the Earth to other worlds can be a huge undertaking that spans decades. The success of such long-term efforts require the work of many dedicated people.

The new paper outlines the particularly important need to recruit, train, and retain team members for pre- and post-launch stages of a mission. One of the most crucial parts of building a strong team is the onboarding, inclusion, and professional development of early-career researchers. The paper discusses the difficulties that early-career researchers face in seeking opportunities to become involved in mission, as well as strategies used by the InSight team to overcome these difficulties. The team cites a particular need for future missions to “advance a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion” to better support the next generation of planetary scientists, as well as the inclusion of early-career researchers in professional bodies.

The authors state, “A vital part of future planetary science missions will be the development of more inclusive teams. As NASA’s InSight mission comes to its end on Mars, we share some strategies that have helped us to work toward this goal.”

The study, “Inclusion of early-career researchers in space missions,” was published in the journal Nature.