Following a broad interaction with the global scientific community the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) has just published the summary of its upcoming Science White Paper “Scientific Opportunities Enabled by Human Exploration Beyond Low-Earth-Orbit”.
The documents take account of the important part that science plays in the international approach for human and robotic space exploration to achieve broad social, intellectual and economic benefits. The international approach is described in the ISECG Global Exploration Roadmap (GER 2013).
In order to develop the Science White Paper, ISECG agencies engaged in a broad interaction with the global scientific community through a Science Advisory Group as well as through open exchanges at various events and conferences. There has also been coordination with COSPAR’s Panel for Exploration, NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), the European Science Foundation and ISECG participating agencies.
The result is a Science White Paper that provides policy makers and other stakeholders with an overview of science opportunities that are created by the presence of humans and their infrastructure as they explore the solar system. It reflects the views and inputs from the open consultation, while focusing the opportunities to the near-term reference mission scenarios of the GER 2013.
The Science White Paper captures opportunities for scientific discovery associated with exploration missions in two themes: “Understanding Our Place in the Universe” and “Living and Working in Space”. These themes provide the basis for the description of opportunities within the next step beyond Low-Earth-Orbit in the vicinity of the Moon, exploration of near-Earth asteroids, human missions to the lunar surface, and eventually, on the surface of Mars. It further outlines the value of human explorers for science.
The summary of the Science White Paper has been published in November 2016 and can be downloaded from the ISECG website. The full Science White Paper will be published in early 2017 and will inform the next edition of the Global Exploration Roadmap, expected in late 2017.