Report: Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis

The United States possesses a treasure-trove of extraterrestrial samples that were returned to Earth via space missions over the past four decades. Analyses of these previously returned samples have led to major breakthroughs in the understanding of the age, composition, and origin of the solar system.


Having the instrumentation, facilities and qualified personnel to undertake analyses of returned samples, especially from missions that take up to a decade or longer from launch to return, is thus of paramount importance if the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is to capitalize fully on the investment made in these missions, and to achieve the full scientific impact afforded by these extraordinary samples. Planetary science may be entering a new golden era of extraterrestrial sample return; now is the time to assess how prepared the scientific community is to take advantage of these opportunities.

Strategic Investments in Instrumentation and Facilities for Extraterrestrial Sample Curation and Analysis assesses the current capabilities within the planetary science community for sample return analyses and curation, and what capabilities are currently missing that will be needed for future sample return missions. This report evaluates whether current laboratory support infrastructure and NASA's investment strategy is adequate to meet these analytical challenges and advises how the community can keep abreast of evolving and new techniques in order to stay at the forefront of extraterrestrial sample analysis.

Contributors

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; Space Studies Board; Committee on Extraterrestrial Sample Analysis Facilities

Report

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