Astrobiology (general)

Comments Transcript: NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
December 4, 2013
Filed under , , ,
Comments Transcript: NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall

The following is a transcript of the comments section from the NASA Planetary Science Division Research and Analysis Program Restructuring Virtual Town Hall held on 3 Dec 2013.

Linda Billings: Acc. to Jonathan’s charts, planetary protection remains unchanged. The NEO program has a role in developing concepts for planetary defense.

Heather Smith: Michael: The one to James Renyolds response to my question.

James Greenwood: In the FAQ on the LPI website, the answer to the second FAQ states that “…LASER program will be folded into the new program elements; unfortunately, very little of the funding added to PSD’s budget for lunar science will accompany LASER into the restructured R&A program. In light of the great influx of lunar data from current and recent missions, PSD will be offering a new LDAP to meet this strategic need” My question is if you work on Apollo samples, are you not eligible for LDAP then? What program element would a proposal to work on Apollo samples go to? I would argue that while there has been a great influx of lunar data from current and recent missions, the data on volatiles in lunar samples would seem to be of equal importance.

Michael H. New: Correction: The Discovery and New Frontiers Programs can support research. Currently the research line in Discovery funds all selected proposals in LARS and PMDAP. When OSIRIS-REx returns samples, the New Frontiers program’s research line will have to augment LARS for analysis of its returned samples.

Barbara Brown: Supporting undergraduates may not be doing them any favors

Britney Schmidt: hooray!

Rachel Klima: re. the answer about PGGURP, will this program now be open to PI’s across all core programs, or move to those from the Workings group since PGG mapped there?

Julianne Moses: @rachel, I don’t think PGURP is restricted to PGG PI’s even now. I’ve seen atmospheres projects, etc.

Michael H. New: @JamesGreenwood: Where the analysis of Apollo samples would go depends on why one is working on those samples. If the research questions relate to the origin of the moon, then one might propose to Emerging Worlds. If the questions relate to planetary processes, then SSW.

mary 2: Planetary Protection Reserach Program has NOT changed..

Steve Elardo: Are we not getting “boatloads of data” from Apollo samples? I thought we were…

Nancy Chabot: ASK Candy Hansen’s question please.

Heather Smith: Planetary Protection Research integrated into this restructuring? If so where, habitable worlds or exobiology?

Julianne Moses: re. Rall’s answer about planetary systems plural or singular, there is currently a lot of Origins work on planetary disks plural (not just our solar nebula), and I think they will stay in Emerging Worlds, not Exoplanets

Mchael Aye: Yes, Candy’s question.

Cicero: Obivously it’s not the last question. See Candy’s.

Dave Draper: There IS another question here in the chat: Was due consideration given to having 2014 to PLAN this reorg and then IMPLEMENT in 2015?

Miriam Riner 2: I didn’t hear the question about the timing of implementation asked. Why no

Louise Prockter: Please ask the question about what input from the community (e.g., this town hall) will be addressed by NASA. There are serious concerns about the timing of this implementation – is any of this concern to be addressed?

Heather Smith: Is Planetary Protection Research integrated into this restructuring? If so where, habitable worlds or exobiology?

Miriam Riner 2: sorry. Why not?

Nancy Chabot: There are of course MANY more questions!

Shane Byrne: Can we expedite this years selection decisions to help us decide what to do next year? e.g. LASER proposals were submitted nine months ago with no word on selectability yet.

Estelle Dodson: We are taking a five minute break….

Heather Smith: s the Planetary Protection Research integrated into this restructuring? If so where, habitable worlds or exobiology?

Michael H. New: @HeatherSmith: Planetary Protection Research should remain it’s own program. It is not out of the question that it could be co-reviewed with Exobiology (as was routinely done pre-2004)

Matt Tiscareno: Is this reorganization subject to review of any kind from the community? Are the AG chairs functioning as a “senior review” panel of any kind? Has due consideration been given to the unanimous recommendation of the AG chairs that the reorganization be postponed?

Francis McCubbin: @Micheal New – The analysis of lunar and other samples for classification purposes no longer seems to have a place in the new restructuring due to the focus on scientific questions. It seems that there should be a data analysis or LARS equivalent program for lunar samples and meteorites that are descriptive in nature.

Barbara Brown: The apollo program had huge public support. What might PSDR&A do to revitalize public interest.

Matt Tiscareno: It’s clear that any questions further up are being disregarded. If you want any chance of your question being addressed, rephrase it and post it again.

Bill Bottke: Will we be able to determine the funding rates to topics within the uber programs? There is concern the reorganization may lead to less transparency.

Seiichi Nagihara: I may have missed this earlier, but could you explain how does this restructuring help reducing the time between the proposal submission and the awarding?

Eliot Young: How does the separation of facilities from R & A programs (e.g., taking IRTF funding out of PAST) affect the R & A bottom line? Are facilites funded from outside the R & A program, resulting in a net gain for R & A programs?

Alyssa Rhoden: How specific is the “Habitable Worlds” call? If a Europa study would have implications on the evolution of the ocean, would that be sufficient?

Heather Smith: OK thanks, So it is not directly in the restructuring, but may be reviewed within the restructing format.

Linda Billings: @ Barbara Brown: Apollo had political support. It did not have huge public support. See the published work of space historian Roger Launius on this subject.

Pat Donohue: Those who feel their question was “skipped” should probably re-ask or re-word.

Francis McCubbin: @Alyssa Rhoden – that program is specific to habitability studies

Michael H. New: @FrancisMcCubbin: I agree that it is hard to get a purely descriptive proposal funded. However, PDART was created to fund research that would enhance our archives, which should probably include curated samples….

Kat Volk: The delay in the SSW call will undoubtably lead to significant funding gaps for many people. How many people do you expect to lose from the planetary science community because of this? How will that affect our future research capabilities?

Alyssa Rhoden: @Francis – So it has to be, e.g. “Is Europa’s ocean habitable?” rather than how long an ocean might have survived?

Nancy Chabot: Reposting from Candy Hansen so it can be asked!: Every AG on behalf of their participants recommended taking a year to work out the restructure with plenty of opportunity for community feedback. Getting responses to questions like “we are working on it, stay tuned, …” would seem to bolster the rationale for implementing this in ROSES15 not 14

SESE ASU: Just to re-ask, since apparently it was missed: How would comparisons between current mission (LRO, Kaguya, Chandrayaan) results to legacy mission results (Clementine, Prospector, Lunar Orbiter) map into the proposed new LDAP program? Or should that sort of investigation be put into SSW?

Michael H. New: Jim Green will address “Candy’s Question” when we get back.

guest\: An orginal program “Science and Innovation Fund” SIF came and went. Can it be revived under the new restructured program?

James Greenwood: @Michael New—I could see work on volatiles in lunar samples being used to answer questioins about the origin of the moon and planetary processes. Do I propose to both or is that not possible?

Michael H. New: @JamesGreenwood: You could certainly propose to both.

Brendan Hermalyn: This was touched on tangentially earlier, but it was in conflict with what is in the FAQ. What is happening- in terms of funding, management, and availability-to the various previously funded facilities, including AVGR, PAL, RELAB, etc.?

Francis McCubbin: Given that the Cosmochemistry program has been divided into scientific question-based programs, why is the LARS program not being expanded to allow for analysis and classification of lunar samples and meteorites that are descriptive (not scientific) in nature. These studies were previously funded as individual tasks within Cosmochemistry proposals, but they do not seem relevant to the new restructuring given the emphasis on addressing specific scientific questions with the new program elements

Michael H. New: @SESE ASU: If you would be using data from the more recent missions extensively, then LDAP would be the place.

Megan Bruck Syal: The FAQs state that the AVGR will be managed by HQ. You stated earlier that it will be managed by Ames. Which is correct?

Michael H. New: @MeganBruckSyal: Overall programmatic responsibility for AVGR, are lodged at HQ. Day-to-day management of the AVGR will remain at ARC.

Francis McCubbin: @Micheal New – Will PDART allow funding for data collection or only archiving of already collected data? The descriptive studies require data collection, which has been traditionally excluded from PDART like programs.

Cicero: How many fewer individual funded PIs do you expect, roughly, in FY16 compared to currently?

NASAWATCH: Is SMD management reading what the Twitterverse is saying about this Town Hall? Audience of followers exceeds 100,000 and includes journalists.

Matt Tiscareno: Better yet, apply @Cicero’s question to FY15.

Nancy Chabot: Second the number of PI question.

James Greenwood: Good luck with getting an answer to the number of PIs in FYwhenever

Murthy Gudipati: In a bad economy the president asks us to spend on small businesses – Isn’t R&A like a small business for NASA – shouldn’t it put more funds in R&A as the planetary decadal survey recommended – until the turbulence in funding is cleared?

Cicero: Regardless of intent, some fewer number of PIs will be funded. If that estimate has not been made, this has not been reviewed as well as it should be.

Barbara Brown: NASA is not anything like a small business. If you want to be considered like a small busines, consider congress your banker. Tell them and the public how you will give them a return on their investment

Susan Keddie: See

Guest: Dave Williams, ASU: Will there be a Mission Science Support Activities (MSS) call in ROSES-14?

Mchael Aye: In a time where less mission are flown, to push up R&A is actually the best thing one can do, because the outcome of R&A is immensly important to focus in the right direction when funding for missions returns.

Chase Million: Even if it is not the intent to drive people out of the community, it still seems prudent to make an estimate of how many people might be driven out of the community even if funding realities dictate that there’s little that can be done about it.

Francis McCubbin: To get past the issue of intent, how much collateral damage (loss of early career scientists and soft money scientists) is NASA willing to sustain as a consequence of the funding gaps that occur from the restructuring?

Louise Prockter: I’m not really getting what the answer is to “every single one of your AGs has recommended slowing down on this implementation, why is this advice being ignored?” We all want a better, healthier R&A program, isn’t a better way to get the community behind this reorg to take their input? Otherwise we will be distracted by this when we should all be focusing on getting PSD funding restored.

Matt Tiscareno: Is it fair to say that the need to make fewer R&A selections in FY15 is at least a contributing reason for the reorganization, especially pushing the deadling for SSW (representing more than half of all selections) effectively into FY16?

Michael H. New: Do you want us to predict the number of funded PIs in FYxx? A very, very, rough estimate is to take your favorite R&A budget estimate and divde by $125,000 which is not a bad approximation for the overall average annual award size. This estimate, of course, ignores all year-to-year variations in the actual budget and how that propagates from year-to-year.

Matt Tiscareno: In my question above: “deadling” ==> “deadline”

SESE ASU: Some of the facilities (Planetary Cartography, AVGR, etc.) have practical and historically close linkages to specific programs (PGG, Cosmo, etc.). How will management of facilities maintain these synergistic links – and responsiveness to community needs – under the new arragement?

Cicero: Thanks, Michael. And yes, that’s understood. There’s a lot of gloom and doom and skittishness, and it would be nice to understand whether the field would shrink by 10% or 30% or something else.

Dave Draper: Followup to Candy’s question and Jim’s answer. The community is entirely behind the need to reorganize; we recognize the unsustainability. We want to HELP make it better. Because HQ plans come and go all the time without ever being implemented, this has taken many aback despite the work that has gone on for the past few years. The community would much rather help get it as good as possible, now that we know things are really seriously going to change, rather than “fix” things if they’re not implemented well. I believe that’s a fair summary of much of the opinion that has been expressed to me, at least.

Steve Elardo: Why was this particular “funding valley” not spread out across the new programs? Why was SSW (the largest program) chosen to bear the whole burden?

Melissa Lane: I would guess hundreds of planetary scientists, new and old, will need to find a new career.

Candy Hansen: Thank you Dave – that is my experience from OPAG

Michael H. New: The degree to which the field shrinks is driven by the budget and the number of hard-money positions available. Regardless of how PSD’s solicitations are organized, when the budget is flat and there are few hard-money positions available, people will be forced to leave the field.

SETI Institute: How do we excite the community and the general public about planetary science without EPO funding?

Jenny Rapp: 2nd SETI Institute!

Cicero: Yelling doesn’t make the points any more rational.

Linda Billings: What Michael New said.

Barbara Brown: Everybody here wants to be part of the program. They also want to feed their kids. The economic impact is major, especially on the younger members of the community

Serina Diniega: How will the solicited feedback be used, given the outlined timing?

Stephen Wood: RE Michael New

Franck Marchis: Response to Jim Green comment: It is obvious that the scientists from the planetary program are quite good at communicating what NASA does. Check our Fb/Twitter accounts for instance and the activity we have. I am not sure this restructuration and telling some of us that there will be collateral damages for some of us (how many?) and we should look around for other opportunities (I am quoting you here) is the best way to thank us.

pamela clark: What we need to do is change the paradigm toward a sustainable deep space activity model, lowering the costs of getting the raw material (missions) by orders of magnitude. That is already happening in the Astrophysics, Heliophysics, and Earth Apps programs, where they have are truly embracing the cubesat model. In addition, the rest of the world clearly sess the Moon as crucial to the infrastructure needed for sustainable exploration. You have to think strategically, when we are all encouraged to think tactically only. Take a look at how they have restructured the other nasa programs in response to the budget crisis. Planetary has been using the same paradigm for forty years…and it didn’t work all that well from the time the Apollo program was cancelled. The shrinking pie model. The cubesat paradigm, when fully realized, will allow a lot more science (temporally and spatially distributed measurements, reconfigurable interferometry) for a lot less investment. Check out

Barbara Brown: No Franck, we are not at all good at selling ourselves to the public.

Alyssa Rhoden: Why am I being screamed at? I love planetary science. I am part of this program, and Ido outreach and advocacy! My concern isn’t with the restructuring, per se, it’s with the fact that ALL the funding reduction is being accommodated by skipping the funding program that 50% of us will be depending on.

Steve Elardo: 2nd Alyssa Rhoden

Candy Hansen: Here is some immediate feedback – the SSW schedule needs to be re-considered.

Guest: Dave Williams, ASU: Will there be a Mission Science Support Activities (MSS) call in parallel with ROSES-14?

Steve Elardo: 2nd Candy Hansen

Michael H. New: @CandyHansen: Yes, we’ve heard that comment loud and clear. We will re-evaluate the schedule.

Alyssa Rhoden: @Candy = If I’m understanding this correctly, there’s no point in having an SSW call in 2014 because almost nothing will get selected.

Michael H. New: @DaveWilliams: Do you mean a call to add facilities to the list of facilities supported by PSD?

Barbara Brown: @Alyssa, precisely AND it makes no sense to waste overhead (NASA admin or researchers’) to do proposals that can’t be funded.

Stephen Wood: RE Michael New’s personal comment, I think it’s not just the budget and job opps but also the TIMING of funding opportunities can be crucially important. Depending on the outcome of currently pending proposals, this potential gap in funding opportunities may well make the difference between whether soft money scientists like myself can stay in this field or not. My university offers a Bridge Funding program, but even that wouldn’t be able to span a potential gap of almost 2 years?!

Guest: Dave Williams, ASU: No, a call for renewal of existing facilities.

Miriam Riner 2: Absolutely. I don’t completely understand the explanation for the delay and I don’t propose simply shifting the burden to another program, but I haven’t heard a good explanation of why the burden can’t be more evenly distributed. Did @BritneySchmidt’s question about considering “fundable” proposals from the previous AO for even that small amount of funding get addressed?

Matthew Burger: A basic question that maybe I just missed the answer to: It seems tht there is significat overlap between Habitable Worlds and Exobiology. Since these are expected to be small programs (esp. Habital Worlds), why are they separate and not combined into a single program?

Shane Byrne: What is the next opportunity for Mission Science Support Activities? Facilities funded on a current R&A program may experience funding gaps if the due date of this new program is very different than the old.

Michael H. New: @DaveWilliams: Yes. We will be putting together a peer review of existing facilities (a “Senior Review”)

Barbara Brown: Regarding small business approach, for bridge funding suggest you consider the crowdfunding sites. If you can convince space afficionados that you’re doing something intersting, you may well get enough to eat for a year.

Britney Schmidt: Habitable worlds includes things like geologic and geochemical studies of palentary environments

Britney Schmidt: exobiology is how life interfaces with those, or the strategies of organisms in extreme or space environments

Lori Fenton: For Jim: How can I get involved with the new program when I have no funding to do so? As said by others on #PSDRandA, be angry FOR us, not angry WITH us.

Michael H. New: @MatthewBurger: Exobiology is about the origin, evolution, and distribution of life on Earth. Habitable Worlds is about applying the knowledge gleaned from the study of the Earth to other planets — in our solar system and beyond.

Britney Schmidt: so the separation is to keep relevant biological research that is not funded by NSF or anywhere else and that directly relates to the search for life beyond earth

Britney Schmidt: jinx!

Britney Schmidt: 🙂

Karl Mitchell: I presume for Habitable Worlds you pretty much have to make the case that your research relates to “habiltability”.

Michael H. New: @ShaneByrne: We are not planning on any lapse of funding for the Mission Support Activities as we prepare for a review.

Britney Schmidt: an example of how I’m thinking about it: Geological Maps= SSW

Nancy Chabot: It still seems like someone is not making R&A funding a priority in PSD, though the Decadal Survey stresses in tough times its importance?

Britney Schmidt: subsurface water=HW or SSW depending on the focus

Matthew Burger: @Brittney – thanks. I’m just looking at Rall’s presentation (p42) where those programs combined make up about 18% or proposals.

Britney Schmidt: there are a huge number of planetary studies that are habitability focused with a geological or geophysical twist

Michael H. New: @StephenWood: My comment was at a global level. At a temporally local level, the issue of funding gaps is certainly important and we are working it.

Murthy Gudipati: @Barbara – I don’t compare NASA to small business, but R&A compared to missions within NASA.

guest\: where are Rall’s slides posted?

Jeremy Boyce: He’s answering the qrong question.

Barbara Brown: For those with no idea how to do small business, see me on twitter for help there @bn_brown

Jeremy Boyce: *wrong

Nancy Chabot: Agree – the question is about why is R&A not being prioritized as stated in the Decadal?

Susan Keddie: guest: I think these are the slides

Francis McCubbin: Given the size and scope of SSW, does NASA anticipate growing the size of that review panel proportionally? If not, how will the reduction in quality and relevance of panel expertise be avoided?

Rick Kline: @guest: if you have the LPI page loaded from the time Rall was giving his presentation, the slides were uploaded later. Refreshing the page makes the link show up.

Candy Hansen: There are so many good comments in this chat box – are Jim and Jonathan going to review this after the fact?

Mark V. Sykes: Sound quality is declining quite a bit.

Serina Diniega: I’ve totally lost the current answer. sound is garbled

Karl Mitchell: Yep. Major compression problems on sound and video

Ashcon Nejad: @Candy Hansen (from G Schmidt, SSERVI) – we are sending this entire transcript to HQ folks so it will be available to them

Karl Mitchell: Better now

guest\: Thsnks Susan

Serina Diniega: Can the full transcript also be posted to teh LPI page?

Mark V. Sykes: Candy – I think their review of the comments will have the same influence as the explicit recommendations of the AGs – none.

Julianne Moses: yvonne comes through fine, but Jim/Jonathan are having issues

Alexander G. Hayes: Can we repeat the last answer, many of us couldn’t here the response.

Mchael Aye: Yes, it’s the mike input from Jim and Jonathan that needs a reset

Rick Kline: Second Alex Hayes

Serina Diniega: (THank you for repeating that answer)

Brent Archinal: I believe I heard Jonathon say that the new LDAP would only cover processing of data from current on-going missions. The LASER opportunity covered the processing of data from previous lunar missions as well. Where will it be possible to propose for processing of Apollo, and other more recent lunar datasets? The Apollo data is the second only to LRO in the amount of data returned by any planetary mission, and only a small percentage of it has been usefully processed into data products. Massive amounts of data from Clementine, Kaguya, and Chandrayann-1 also need to be processed into either initial or more usable and modern cartographic products to support both science and exploration.

Murthy Gudipati: @Nancy – Yes – my question on keeping R&A budget healthy by comparing it to small business – though was taken towards SBRI, Jim and Jonathan are now back to understand that a healthy R&A program is critical to keep the planetary sciences division of NASA keep its lead in the world. I hope the actions will follow.

Mchael Aye: Will the pending selections have increased funding to bolster the lack of SSW 2014?

Guest 6: Will you hire more people at NASA HQ to manage new larger programs?

Mchael Aye: Is PSD not scared that the lack of SSW 2014 will lead to very ‘stretched’ interpretations of the target areas of the other programs, resulting in immense proposal rates for these?

Serina Diniega: can PSD provide a timeline to guide the community in what type of feedback would be of use. For example, can they estimate when draft call text will be posted and when comments are needed back. And what other information they expect to post and will solicit feedback on? This will help teh community most efficiently and effectively help with this reorganization.

Alyssa Rhoden: Third try: Will Habitable Worlds allow proposals that study geophysics of said worlds, with implications for habitability, or do they have do be, literally, studies of habitability?

Michael H. New: @Guest6: The number of proposals shouldn’t change very much and that is the driver of the number of Program Officers.

Ashcon Nejad: [from G Schmidt, SSERVI Central] If you feel like your question hasn’t been addressed, please type it in again

Karl Mitchell: @Michael Aye: Good point. I’m pretty sure that’s what many of us are going to be forced to do.

Karl Mitchell: I second Alyssa Rhoden’s question.

Francis McCubbin: At present, the current programs’ review panels are divided into subpanels of specific expertise (e.g., sub panel of isotope experts to review isotope proposals within Cosmochemistry). If the panel size does not increase, it seems that the expertise will be defocused (e.g., one isotope expert on a subpanel of Cosmochemists). This will also potentially reduce fairness of the system given the number of experts for a specific topic will be necessarily decreased if panel sizes are to remain the same.

Michael H. New: @AlyssaRhoden: I’m not clear what you mean by ” proposals that study geophysics of said worlds, with implications for habitability, or do they have do be, literally, studies of habitability?” What is the difference between the two alternatives?

Mchael Aye: Second Alyssa’s question, because that’s what many of us will have to do without a SSW14

SETI Institute: If 50% of planetary science will be proposing to the new SSW, perhaps with multiple proposals, which will all be due simultaneously, and reviewed simultaneously in sub-panels, HOW will NASA find any reviewers who are qualified to review these proposals?

Karl Mitchell: @Michael New: Can I propose to study something that addresses the presence or distribution of water on a body, without more specifically addressing whether or not that makes for a habitable environment.

Alyssa Rhoden: @Michael: As an example, I study fractures on Europa, which has implications of the thickness of the ice shell and whether there is an exchange of material between the surface and subsurface. Hence, my work has implication on habitabilty. However, my work does not directly address the question of whether Euroa is, in fact, habitable.

Nancy Chabot: I second Serina’s question; people want to help but this seems like a done deal. Is there any input that could influence the plan and if so, what input and by when and how will it have influence?

Alyssa Rhoden: And what Karl said

Mchael Aye: Further on Alyssa’s point: The exchange of volatiles on Mars certainly can have an affect on habitability on Mars. So when I study those processes can I argue to submit to Habitability without studying habitability directly?

Karl Mitchell: Suddenly, we’re all going to become Habitability experts.

Marc Fries: Alyssa, I asked the same question early on re: overlap in the programs. The answer was – talk to the program managers about your proposal.

Miriam Riner 2: Is anyone concerned about potential conflicts of interest with reviewers serving on panels that may meet at different times and address different subsections of the same program? In the end your reviewers are evaluating proposals that are competing for the same pot of money, aren’t they?

Britney Schmidt: Have to be credible in order to propose habitability relevance still 😉

Paul Estrada: 2nd SETI’s question. That is extremely relevant to all of us.

Britney Schmidt: but yes, probably

Britney Schmidt: however, maybe this will push us towards more fundamental research, or at least allow it to exist, rather than just mission data direct analysis

Michael H. New: @KarlMitchell: Since the objective of the Habitable Worlds solicitation is to understand habitability, some sort of argument would need to be made in the proposal to justify why the particular question addressed affects habitability.

Alyssa Rhoden: Thanks!

Nancy Chabot: Ok – as an AG chair – what comments and input should everyone send me?

Nancy Chabot: And I’m not sure everyone emailing me is the best plan.

Serina Diniega: To reiterate: For teh AGs to compile meaningful information and provide it to PSD at the right times .. we need a timeline.

Nancy Chabot: And what input will have influence?

Nancy Chabot: You can’t just ask the AGs to do this and not give any information.

Michael H. New: @AlyssaRhoden: Why do you think your research doesn’t directly address whether Europa is habitable? Exchange between the surface and subsurface of Europa has been previously identified as a component of the habitabiility of Europa (e.g., Hand and Chyba).

Marc Fries: Question for Michael New: Would you agree that there will be a shortfall of reviewers? And to handle that, would fewer reviewers review more proposals, or re-define “conflicted reviewer” – are there ideas on how to handle this?

Nancy Chabot: Helpful feedback is still too vague for me to take t o the SBAG community

SETI Institute: The point still stands if it’s 33% or 50% of the community

Alyssa Rhoden: @Michael New – I study surface processes, not say, the chemistry of nutrient mixing at the ocean/rock interface, so I consider my work “implications” for habitability. I’m glad you think, otherwise, though, and it sounds like I could propose to HW.

Jeff Grossman: note that the 50% number referred the the fraction of proposals in the core programs that mapped to SSW.

Francis McCubbin: In response to what was previously said regarding keeping panel sizes the same. At present, the current programs’ review panels are divided into subpanels of specific expertise (e.g., sub panel of isotope experts to review isotope proposals within Cosmochemistry). If the panel size does not increase, it seems that the expertise will be defocused (e.g., one isotope expert on a subpanel of Cosmochemists). This will also potentially reduce fairness of the system given the number of experts for a specific topic will be necessarily decreased if panel sizes are to remain the same. How is this possible issue going to be addressed?

Serina Diniega: Please directly clarify this point: across the community, people are requesting more time to understand the reorganization and to provide input to the process. People are not requesting starting over from scratch, but to stretch out the transition period. Is this possible? If not, why not? (I have the impression that this boat has sailed, but not why.)

Guest 6: Did all program scientists give their input into this R&A restructuring?

Paul Estrada: The answer was not comforting. If we basically have one shot a year to get a grant through, and you have a lack of qualified reviewers, then the chances of receiving a incompetant review increases. I think many of us have experienced this already before.

Britney Schmidt: Quick promo, there is a good discussion going on the Young Scientists for Planetary Exploration Facebook page as well. If you are not yet a member, come on over and join us!!

Paul Estrada: *an incompetent

Michael H. New: @MarcFries: I don’t necessarily agree that there would be a shortfall of reviewers. I havven’t run any detailed models on this. I don’t think that we can just redefine “conflicted reviewers” since that is a matter of law. On the other hand, we are currently allowed to use co-Is of proposals as reviewers on panels distinct from the panel considering that person’s proposal. Having multiple subpanels spread over several weeks makes this easier to deal with. Finally, the reviewer workload right now is not overbearing — most panelists review 10-12 proposals per panel based on data from a few years ago. For reference, NSF reviewers usually have to read at least twice as many.

Julianne Moses: astrophysics (and NSF) do it now in big panels, but they seemingly have a larger % of folks on hard money, so maybe there are inherently fewer conflicts. NSF subpanels are typically much broader in subject area than NASA subpanels. That works okay, but it skews the results to the best writers and best salespeople, and not necessarily the best science.

Britney Schmidt: And write congress. Thanks for the infomation and discussion folks. Have to head to seminar.

Matt Tiscareno: Let’s please be clear about the proportion of the R&A program that is represented by SSW. Slide 42 of today’s presentation shows that SSW accounts for 54% (498 of 913) of all proposals submitted to ROSES-11, and 51% (377 of 741) of all grants in FY13. From where does Jonathan get the number he just quoted of 1500 total proposals, of which SSW’s 500 represents only one-third?

Barbara Brown: Also LinkedIn group

Dave Draper: Corollary to Serina’s question: Many of these questions, mine included, have incorporated phrases like “we want to help”, “we know the current structure is unsustainable”, “we accept some kind of reorg is necessary”, yet in no case have those words been spoken when the question has been posed. It would be very helpful to make sure that Jim and Jon know this is the sentiment; I do not believe that has come through to them at all thus far.

D Banfield: I understand that consolidating programs might help with managing, marketing and expediting programs, but my biggest concern is that it means a bad review in a proposal round could mean a full year of partial employment. having the partially overlapping programs as we do now helps mitigate against that (if notification could be expedited). a several month gap in employment is marginally acceptable. a full year means a change of career.

Kevin McGouldrick: @MattTiscareno: I presume the other 500 proposals are in the various DAPs that were not sorted into those new subprograms.

Paul Estrada: Exactly my concern @Don.

Barbara Brown: @Britney – it’s a closed group!

Julianne Moses: @michaelnew; NSF panelists read all the proposals in the subpanel, but they are asked to do write ups on roughly the same number as NASA panels.

Serina Diniega: The FB group is closed, but you can request membership. An admin will add you.

Matt Tiscareno: @Barbara, I think it’s pretty painless to ask to join and get approved.

Michael H. New: @JulianneMoses: That depends on the NSF panel. Some have to writup more reviews than others.

Marc Fries: @Michael New – Good to go, thank you.

Shane Byrne: I still don’t understand if there will be a call for the Facilities related programs in ROSES 2014. Jonathan started saying no and then fudged the answer to ‘stay tuned’. I have a facility that needs funding renewal that year – where can I send the proposal to if not PG&G?

Matt Tiscareno: @Kevin, okay, I see that you’re right and Jonathan is likely right. Not only the DAPs but PAST/NEOO and other “non-core” programs are not included in that slide. I withdraw my question.

Jeff Grossman: again. slide 42 was showing the core programs. these programs get the 913 proposals. 1500 is the total including other programs like DAPs, tech programs, etc.

Steve Elardo: @D Banfield has the right of it. Overlapping programs can be a good thing. A bad review in a new program could leave the PI with no other funding options.

Mchael Aye: Second the overlapping issue. Overlap can be good!

Julianne Moses: There is still overlap now; it’s just different overlap

Francis McCubbin: (sorry for repost not previously answered) In response to what was previously said regarding keeping panel sizes the same. At present, the current programs’ review panels are divided into subpanels of specific expertise (e.g., sub panel of isotope experts to review isotope proposals within Cosmochemistry). If the panel size does not increase, it seems that the expertise will be defocused (e.g., one isotope expert on a subpanel of Cosmochemists). This will also potentially reduce fairness of the system given the number of experts for a specific topic will be necessarily decreased if panel sizes are to remain the same. How is this possible issue going to be addressed?

Renee Weber: what will program managers for the programs that are being cancelled/merged do?

Guest 6: Did either of these two gentlemen work for soft money?

Michael H. New: @FrancisMcCubbin: I think you’re making some assumptions about how the new review panels will be organized. Isotope geochemistry proposals would still be reviewed by isotope geochemists; the panel would need more isotope geochemists, though.

Mchael Aye: Wouldn’t an increase in some hard money positions be helpful that have the mandate to participate in reviews?

Michael H. New: @ReneeWeber: They will help manage the new programs.

Dave Draper: Thank you Yvonne!!

Steve Elardo: @Julianne Not for everyone. Say you study martian meteorites. Before you had Cosmo and MFRP. Now you just have SSW. It cuts your opportunities in half.

Francis McCubbin: @ Michael New – I am trying very hard not to make any assumptions, and perhaps I did not understand the answer given, but it was stated that the panel size of SSW would not be proportionally increased to the size and scope of that program. I am responding to that verbal response, or at least my understanding of it.

Mchael Aye: To be clear, I mean hard money science positions that include the mandate to participate in reviews regularly.

Barbara Brown: Private jobs

Alan Boss: A hard money planetary science position is open at DTM Carnegie – see

Murthy Gudipati: If a proposal with “Excellent/Very Good” needs to be turned down because of the budget restrictions of that program, can there be an opportunity at a PSD level to get it fully or partly funded? If not, we are wasting precious time and resources resubmitting again and again!

Sarah Horst: When E/VGs aren’t getting funded, the issue isn’t with writing good proposals.

Asmin Pathare: Wasn’t the sequester already in place when ROSES 2013 was released? So why is there more of a budget shortfall this year?

Guest 6: Can you increase the honorarium amount for review panelist?

Michael H. New: @FrancisMcCubbin: Hmm….I didn’t catch that statement. Sigh. My personal rule of thumb is that I need approximately 1 panelist for every 2-4 proposals in a panel; in other words, I assume that each panelist will be the Chief (or Primary) Reviewer for 2-4 proposals and the Auxilliary (or Secondary) reviewer on another 6-8. On the other hand, SSW is being created out of several existing programs. If there is no more than a modest increase in the number of proposals submitted to SSW (relative to the current programs) then the aggregate number of reviewers needed shouldn’t really increase.

Francis McCubbin: Thank you for the clarification Michael

Alan Boss: You are welcome!

Julianne Moses: @Elardo; oh, yes, my own potential overlaps have gone away, too. I was simply commenting on the fact that the new restructuring does not eliminate all overlaps, despite that stated goal

NASAWATCH: Did you every consider eliminating the multiple websites that each SMD mission has so as to free up money for research?

Mchael Aye: Sorry if this is a repeat: Is there a timeline known for the pending 2013 selections?

Murthy Gudipati: Jonathan: Excellent answer regarding the flexibility enabled by the restructuring to make strategic decisions and not let E/VG go unfunded – -thanks

Julianne Moses: Anybody who wants to manage a soft-money institution in these uncertain times, Space Science Institute is looking for a new d

Michael H. New: @MichaelAye: It depends on the individual programs. Exobiology should be able to at least announce “selectable” versus “not selected” in 2-4 weeks. That announcement might be delayed by the Holiday Season.

Julianne Moses: oops, SSI is looking for a new director (partial hard money). See

Mchael Aye: LASER, MFRP and MDAP?

Michael H. New: @MichaelAye: They’re not my programs so I don’t know. Ask the Program Officer’s first and if you don’t receive a response, contact Jonathan Rall.

Mchael Aye: Thanks Michael.

Michael H. New: You’re welcome.

NASAWATCH: News media have been listening too – but no one at SMD told HQ PAO about this Town Hall.

Melissa Lane: Send position announcements to the PEN editors for inclusion in the weekly newletter.


Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻