NASA currently is working with industry and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to establish future requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) flying in the National Airspace System (NAS). To work these issues NASA has established a multi-center “UAS Integration in the NAS” project. In order to establish Ground Control Station requirements for UAS, the perspective of each of the major players in NAS operations was desired. Three on-line surveys were administered that focused on Air Traffic Controllers (ATC), pilots of manned aircraft, and pilots of UAS. Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted with some survey respondents. The survey questions addressed UAS control, navigation, and communications from the perspective of small and large unmanned aircraft. Questions also addressed issues of UAS equipage, especially with regard to sense and avoid capabilities. From the civilian ATC and military ATC perspectives, of particular interest are how mixed operations (manned / UAS) have worked in the past and the role of aircraft equipage. Knowledge gained from this information is expected to assist the NASA UAS Integration in the NAS project in directing research foci thus assisting the FAA in the development of rules, regulations, and policies related to UAS in the NAS.
NASA Appropriations and Authorizations: A Fact Sheet (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
In the current fiscal environment, congressional deliberations about the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) often focus on the availability of funding. This fact sheet provides data on past and current NASA appropriations as well as proposed NASA appropriations for FY2015 and proposed authorizations of NASA appropriations for FY2015 and FY2016.
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Federal Courthouses: Recommended Construction Projects Should Be Evaluated under New Capital- Planning Process. GAO-13-263, April 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653747.pdf
3. Veterans Health Care: VHA Has Taken Steps to Address Deficiencies in Its Logistics Program, but Significant Concerns Remain. GAO-13-336, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653887.pdf
4. Information Technology: Consistently Applying Best Practices Could Help IRS Improve the Reliability of Reported Cost and Schedule Information. GAO-13-401, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653845.pdf
1. U.S. Postal Service: Urgent Action Needed to Achieve Financial Sustainability, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-562T, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653840.pdf
2. Federal Courthouses: Most Recommended New Construction Projects Do Not Qualify Under Improved Capital-Planning Process, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-13-523T, April 17.
3. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Program Has Improved in Some Areas, but Affordability Challenges and Other Risks Remain, by Michael J. Sullivan, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-13-500T, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653858.pdf
4. Foreclosure Review: Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders, by Lawrance L. Evans, Jr., director, financial markets and community investment, before the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. GAO-13-550T, April 17.
NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis Tuesday that compares temperatures around the globe in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.
See: 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend, NASA Finds (Science Daily)
National Disagreement Over NASA’s Goals and Objectives Detrimental to Agency Planning, Budgeting Efforts
Source: National Research Council
Without a national consensus on strategic goals and objectives for NASA, the agency cannot be expected to establish or work toward achieving long-term priorities, says a new report from the National Research Council. In addition, there is a mismatch between the portfolio of programs and activities assigned to the agency and the budget allocated by Congress, and legislative restrictions inhibit NASA from more efficiently managing its personnel and infrastructure. The White House should take the lead in forging a new consensus on NASA’s future in order to more closely align the agency’s budget and objectives and remove restrictions impeding NASA’s efficient operations.
The committee that authored the report was not asked to offer views on what NASA’s goals, objectives, and strategy should be; rather it was tasked with recommending how these goals, objectives, and strategies might best be established and communicated.
The report recommends establishing a national consensus on NASA’s future with the executive branch taking the lead after technical consultations with potential international partners. The strategic goals and objectives chosen should be ambitious yet technically rational and should focus on the long term, the report says.
To reduce the discrepancy between the overall size of NASA’s budget and its current portfolio of missions, facilities, and personnel, the report says, the White House, Congress, and NASA, as appropriate, could pursue any or all of the following four options:
- Institute an aggressive restructuring program to reduce infrastructure and personnel costs and improve efficiency;
- Engage in and commit for the long term to more cost-sharing partnerships with other U.S. government agencies, private sector industries, and international partners;
- Increase the size of the NASA budget;
- Reduce considerably the size and scope of elements of NASA’s current program portfolio to better fit the current and anticipated budget profile.
Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science 2013 – 2022
Source: NASA and the National Science Foundation
In recent years, planetary science has seen a tremendous growth in new knowledge. Deposits of water ice exist at the Moon’s poles. Discoveries on the surface of Mars point to an early warm wet climate, and perhaps conditions under which life could have emerged. Liquid methane rain falls on Saturn’s moon Titan, creating rivers, lakes, and geologic landscapes with uncanny resemblances to Earth’s. Comets impact Jupiter, producing Earth-sized scars in the planet’s atmosphere. Saturn’s poles exhibit bizarre geometric cloud patterns and changes; its rings show processes that may help us understand the nature of planetary accretion. Venus may be volcanically active. Jupiter’s icy moons harbor oceans below their ice shells: conceivably Europa’s ocean could support life. Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus has enough geothermal energy to drive plumes of ice and vapor from its south pole. Dust from comets shows the nature of the primitive materials from which the planets and life arose. And hundreds of new planets discovered around nearby stars have begun to reveal how our solar system fits into a vast collection of others.
This report was requested by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to review the status of planetary science in the United States and to develop a comprehensive strategy that will continue these advances in the coming decade. Drawing on extensive interactions with the broad planetary science community, the report presents a decadal program of science and exploration with the potential to yield revolutionary new discoveries. The program will achieve long-standing scientific goals with a suite of new missions across the solar system. It will provide fundamental new scientific knowledge, engage a broad segment of the planetary science community, and have wide appeal for the general public whose support enables the program.
NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA and the X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, Calif., announced Thursday the Google Lunar X Prize is recognizing guidelines established by NASA to protect lunar historic sites and preserve ongoing and future science on the moon. The foundation will take the guidelines into account as it judges mobility plans submitted by 26 teams vying to be the first privately-funded entity to visit the moon.
NASA recognizes that many spacefaring nations and commercial entities are on the verge of landing spacecraft on the moon. The agency engaged in a cooperative dialogue with the X Prize Foundation and the Google Lunar X Prize teams to develop the recommendations. NASA and the next generation of lunar explorers share a common interest in preserving humanity’s first steps on another celestial body and protecting ongoing science from the potentially damaging effects of nearby landers.
NASA assembled the guidelines using data from previous lunar studies and analysis of the unmanned lander Surveyor 3’s samples after Apollo 12 landed nearby in 1969. Experts from the historic, scientific and flight-planning communities also contributed to the technical recommendations. The guidelines do not represent mandatory U.S. or international requirements. NASA provided them to help lunar mission planners preserve and protect historic lunar artifacts and potential science opportunities for future missions.