Kepler and the Search for Earth-like Planets

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle

This week NASA announced the discovery of Kepler 452-B, the most Earth-like exoplanet found to date through the Kepler project. What technology do we need in order to learn about this planet? How can we look for more planets like this, in the “goldilocks” habitable zone of their solar systems? The Panel Reports for the decadal survey New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics addressed these questions and made recommendations for research and technology needs to advance our knowledge. These books as well as others in our collection on Space Exploration are free to download.

Panel Reports–New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Every 10 years the National Research Council releases a survey of astronomy and astrophysics outlining priorities for the coming decade. The most recent survey, titled New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, provides overall priorities and recommendations for the field …

[more]

New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Driven by discoveries, and enabled by leaps in technology and imagination, our understanding of the universe has changed dramatically during the course of the last few decades. The fields of astronomy and astrophysics are making new connections to physics, chemistry, biology, and computer …

[more]

Science Beyond Borders: U.S. – Iran Engagement

On July 14, 2015, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, and China (the P5+1) reached a landmark agreement with Iran that strictly limits nuclear-related activities in Iran while calling for bilateral and multilateral collaboration in nuclear science and technology. The NAP report titled U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2000-2009) summarizes activities of the Academies in bringing together more than 1,000 specialists from about 100 U.S. and Iran academic and research centers in the two countries in nongovernmental workshops, exchanges of individuals, and pilot projects. While the report is devoted primarily to non-nuclear activities, many of the lessons learned have broad applicability in carrying out collaborative programs in a variety of fields under difficult and often unpredictable conditions.

U.S.-Iran Engagement in Science, Engineering, and Health (2000-2009): Opportunities, Constraints, and Impacts

During the first decade of the 21st century, the National Academies, working with a number of partner organizations in Iran, carried out a program of U.S.-Iran engagement in science, engineering, and health (herein referred to as science engagement). This book reviews important aspects of the science engagement program, including: (a) objectives of the program, (b) opportunities and constraints in developing the program, and (c) scientific and political impacts of the activities. Suggestions …

[more]

Beyond Pluto: Science and Future Exploration in the Kuiper Belt

KB-objects

Image Credit: NASA/GSFC

Today’s flyby of Pluto and its system of moons by New Horizons finishes our initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system, and begins our exploration of the Kuiper Belt. This large area beyond Neptune’s orbit remains mysterious and unknown. National Academy of Sciences reports have ranked the exploration of this region as a research priority for the coming decade. Why is the Kuiper Belt important? What new discoveries do we expect to make? Find out here.

Vision and Voyages for Planetary Science in the Decade 2013-2022

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 …

[more]

Assessment of Planetary Protection Requirements for Spacecraft Missions to Icy Solar System Bodies

NASA’s exploration of planets and satellites during the past 50 years has led to the discovery of traces of water ice throughout the solar system and prospects for large liquid water reservoirs beneath the frozen ICE shells of multiple satellites …

[more]

Grading NASA’s Solar System Exploration Program: A Midterm Review

The NASA Authorization Act of 2005 directed the agency to ask the NRC to assess the performance of each division in the NASA Science directorate at five-year intervals. In this connection, NASA requested the NRC to review the progress the Planetary …

[more]

New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy

Solar system exploration is that grand human endeavor which reaches out through interplanetary space to discover the nature and origins of the system of planets in which we live and to learn whether life exists beyond Earth. It is an international …

[more]

New Frontiers in Solar System Exploration

Over the last four decades, robotic spacecraft have visited nearly every planet, from torrid Mercury to frigid Neptune. The data returned by these Pioneers, Mariners, Vikings, and Voyagers have revolutionized our understanding of the solar …

[more]

Optimizing the U.S. Ground-Based Optical and Infrared Astronomy System

New astronomical facilities, such as the under-construction Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and planned 30-meter-class telescopes, and new instrumentation on existing optical and infrared (OIR) telescopes, hold the promise of groundbreaking …

[more]

The Depths of Space: The Story of the Pioneer Planetary Probes

The first spacecraft to explore the secrets of the Sun, Jupiter, Saturn, and the void beyond Pluto, the Pioneer space probes have been the trailblazers of the space age, truly going where no man has gone before.

Emblazoned with the …

[more]

A Woman’s Place in STEM: Achieving an Equal Workplace

image001
Marie Curie

Unquestionably, women’s participation in academic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) has increased over the past few decades. In order for the United States to maintain the global leadership and competitiveness in science and technology that are critical to achieving national goals, we must continue to encourage the growth of a diverse STEM workforce. Reports from the National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering explore the unique challenges for women as they pursue careers in STEM fields. All are free to download.

Career Choices of Female Engineers: A Summary of a Workshop

Despite decades of government, university, and employer efforts to close the gender gap in engineering, women make up only 11 percent of practicing engineers in the United States. What factors influence women graduates’ decisions to enter the …

[more]

Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference

Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia is the summary of a 2013 conference convened by the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine of the National Research Council to discuss …

[more]

Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context: Summary of a Workshop

The scientific work of women is often viewed through a national or regional lens, but given the growing worldwide connectivity of most, if not all, scientific disciplines, there needs to be recognition of how different social, political, and …

[more]

From Science to Business: Preparing Female Scientists and Engineers for Successful Transitions into Entrepreneurship: Summary of a Workshop

Scientists, engineers, and medical professionals play a vital role in building the 21st- century science and technology enterprises that will create solutions and jobs critical to solving the large, complex, and interdisciplinary problems faced …

[more]

Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads

In order for the United States to maintain the global leadership and competitiveness in science and technology that are critical to achieving national goals, we must invest in research, encourage innovation, and grow a strong and talented science …

[more]

Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty

Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty presents new and surprising findings about career differences between female and male full-time, tenure-track, and tenured faculty …

[more]

To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering

Although more women than men participate in higher education in the United States, the same is not true when it comes to pursuing careers in science and engineering. To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering …

[more]

The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited

The Postdoctoral Experience Revisited builds on the 2000 report Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers. That ground-breaking report assessed the postdoctoral experience and provided principles, action …

[more]

The Arc of the Academic Research Career: Issues and Implications for U.S. Science and Engineering Leadership: Summary of a Workshop

America’s research universities have undergone striking change in recent decades, as have many aspects of the society that surrounds them. This change has important implications for the heart of every university: the faculty. To sustain their …

[more]

Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering

Can the United States continue to lead the world in innovation? The answer may hinge in part on how well the public understands engineering, a key component of the ‘innovation engine’. A related concern is how to encourage young …

[more]

Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action

For those in the broad engineering community–those who employ, work with, and/or educate engineers, and engineers themselves–there is no need to explain the importance and value of engineering. They understand that engineers help make the world …

[more]

Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

The United States economy relies on the productivity, entrepreneurship, and creativity of its people. To maintain its scientific and engineering leadership amid increasing economic and educational globalization, the United States must aggressively …

[more]

From Scarcity to Visibility: Gender Differences in the Careers of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers

Although women have made important inroads in science and engineering since the early 1970s, their progress in these fields has stalled over the past several years. This study looks at women in science and engineering careers in the 1970s and 1980s, …

[more]

Science-based Advice for Managing U.S. Fisheries

In the United States, commercial and recreational fisheries generate $166 billion in sales impacts annually and support 1.4 million jobs (NOAA 2012). Many coastal communities depend on healthy fisheries to support local industries and tourism. Depleted fish stocks continue to be a challenge for fishery managers and the fisheries: approximately 20% of the fisheries that have been assessed are considered overfished according to the September 2012 stock status report to Congress prepared by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hence, effective management of this valuable public resource is a priority from the local to national level.

This year, Congress is working on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act–the primary legislation regulating federal fisheries, first passed in 1976. In its 1996 reauthorization, mandates were added that were aimed at rebuilding overfished fisheries, protecting essential fish habitat, and reducing bycatch. The 2006 reauthorization included provisions to immediately curtail overfishing, establish annual catch limits, and ensure accountability. For the current reauthorization, Congress is considering revisions to mandates to rebuild overfished stocks and to manage and measure recreational fishing.

Reports from the National Research Council have helped inform efforts to manage fisheries by examining the strengths and weaknesses of fish stock rebuilding plans and developing strategies to modernize the system used for collecting recreational fisheries data. The 2006 reauthorization referenced an NRC report on recreational fisheries:

“ NRC REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS.–The program shall take into consideration and, to the extent feasible, implement the recommendations of the National Research Council in its report Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods (2006).” [H.R. 5946, Section 201 (B)]

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Fish Stock Rebuilding Plans in the United States

In the United States (U.S.), the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, now known as the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA), was the first major legislation to regulate federal fisheries in the U.S. …

[more]

Review of Recreational Fisheries Survey Methods

Recreational fishing in the United States is an important social and economic component of many marine fisheries, with an estimated 14 million anglers making almost 82 million fishing trips in 2004. Although each individual angler typically harvests …

[more]

Learn more about how fishing limits are rebuilding stocks in U.S. waters.

fisheries_visualization

Happy National Donut Day!

Created by Kevin Van Aelst

Created by Kevin Van Aelst

Now that you’ve eaten your donut, here are some reports from our Obesity Prevention Collection, which presents a fresh perspective about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to the growing obesity epidemic by recommending obesity prevention actions, programs, and policies.

Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School

Physical inactivity is a key determinant of health across the lifespan. A lack of activity increases the risk of heart disease, colon and breast cancer, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, osteoporosis, anxiety and depression and others diseases. Emerging literature has suggested that in terms of mortality, the global population health burden of physical inactivity approaches that of cigarette smoking. The prevalence and substantial disease risk associated with physical inactivity has been …

[more]

Evaluating Obesity Prevention Efforts: A Plan for Measuring Progress

Obesity poses one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century, creating serious health, economic, and social consequences for individuals and society. Despite acceleration in efforts to characterize, comprehend, and act on this problem, including implementation of preventive interventions, further understanding is needed on the progress and effectiveness of these interventions.

[more]

Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention: Solving the Weight of the Nation

One-third of adults are now obese, and children’s obesity rates have climbed from 5 to 17 percent in the past 30 years. The causes of the nation’s obesity epidemic are multi-factorial, having much more to do with the absence of sidewalks and the limited availability of healthy and affordable foods than a lack of personal responsibility. The broad societal changes that are needed to prevent obesity will inevitably affect activity and eating environments and settings for all ages. Many aspects …

[more]

Alliances for Obesity Prevention: Finding Common Ground: Workshop Summary

Many organizations are making focused efforts to prevent obesity. To achieve their goals, accelerate their progress, and sustain their success, the assistance of many other individuals and groups–not all of them with a singular focus on obesity prevention–will be essential. In October 2011 the Institute of Medicine held a workshop that provided an opportunity for obesity prevention groups to hear from and hold discussions with many of these potential allies in obesity prevention. They …

[more]

Measuring Progress in Obesity Prevention: Workshop Report

Nearly 69 percent of U.S. adults and 32 percent of children are either overweight or obese, creating an annual medical cost burden that may reach $147 billion. Researchers and policy makers are eager to identify improved measures of environmental and policy factors that contribute to obesity prevention. The IOM formed the Committee on Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention to review the IOM’s past obesity-related recommendations, identify a set of recommendations for future action, and …

[more]

25 Years of the Hubble Space Telescope – What’s Next?

Happy 25th Birthday, Hubble Space Telescope! Launched into orbit on this date in 1990, the Hubble has made a vital contribution to research and inspired the public with its breathtaking images. Its scientific successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, is scheduled for launch in 2018. Our reports informed the development, operation, and research direction for the Hubble, and they also discuss development and promise of the James Webb Space Telescope. All are free to download.

New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Driven by discoveries, and enabled by leaps in technology and imagination, our understanding of the universe has changed dramatically during the course of the last few decades. The fields of astronomy and astrophysics are making new connections …

[more]

Panel Reports–New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Every 10 years the National Research Council releases a survey of astronomy and astrophysics outlining priorities for the coming decade. The most recent survey, titled New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, provides …

[more]

Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey

The 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), outlines a scientifically exciting and programmatically integrated plan for both ground- and space-based astronomy …

[more]

NASA’s Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is widely admired for astonishing accomplishments since its formation in 1958. Looking ahead over a comparable period of time, what can the nation and the world expect of NASA? What will be …

[more]

Forging the Future of Space Science: The Next 50 Years

From September 2007 to June 2008 the Space Studies Board conducted an international public seminar series, with each monthly talk highlighting a different topic in space and Earth science. The principal lectures from the series are compiled in …

[more]

Assessment of Options for Extending the Life of the Hubble Space Telescope: Final Report

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has operated continuously since 1990. During that time, four space shuttle-based service missions were launched, three of which added major observational capabilities. A fifth SM-4 was intended to replace key …

[more]

Sharing the Adventure with the Public: The Value and Excitement of ‘Grand Questions’ of Space Science and Exploration Summary of a Workshop

On November 8-10, 2010, the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board (SSB) held a public workshop on how NASA and its associated science and exploration communities communicate with the public about major NASA activities and programs. The …

[more]

Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium

In this new book, a distinguished panel makes recommendations for the nation’s programs in astronomy and astrophysics, including a number of new initiatives for observing the universe. With the goal of optimum value, the recommendations address the …

[more]

The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomers and astrophysicists are making revolutionary advances in our understanding of planets, stars, galaxies, and even the structure of the universe itself. The Decade of Discovery presents a survey of this exciting field of science and …

[more]

U.S. Astronomy and Astrophysics: Managing an Integrated Program

In its fiscal year 2002 budget summary document the Bush administration expressed concern-based in part on the findings and conclusions of two National Research Council studies-about recent trends in the federal funding of astronomy and …

[more]

Deepwater Horizon 5 Years Later

Deepwater_Horizon_offshore_drilling_unit_on_fire_2010Five years ago today, firefighters were struggling in vain to extinguish a fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The blowout of the Macondo well caused the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, killing 11 crewmen and igniting a fireball visible from 40 miles away. On 22 April 2010, Deepwater Horizon sank, leaving the well gushing at the seabed and causing the largest oil spill in U.S. waters. It would be nearly three months before the well could be completely killed, during which time, nearly 5 million barrels of oil spilled into the gulf. Reports from the National Research Council, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and Transportation Research Board provided analysis of the spill and guidance for policy making, health care monitoring, and environmental protection. As part of the legal settlements with the companies held responsible, the federal government has asked the National Academy of Sciences to form and administer a 30-year program to enhance oil system safety, human health, and environmental resources in the Gulf of Mexico and other U.S. continental shelf areas where offshore oil and gas exploration and production occur or are under consideration. Reports from the Gulf Research Program focus on research and development, education and training, and environmental monitoring. All are free to download.

Macondo Well Deepwater Horizon Blowout: Lessons for Improving Offshore Drilling Safety

The blowout of the Macondo well on April 20, 2010, led to enormous consequences for the individuals involved in the drilling operations, and for their families. Eleven workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig lost their lives and 16 others …

[more]

An Ecosystem Services Approach to Assessing the Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

As the Gulf of Mexico recovers from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, natural resource managers face the challenge of understanding the impacts of the spill and setting priorities for restoration work. The full value of losses resulting from the …

[more]

Assessing the Effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on Human Health: A Summary of the June 2010 Workshop

From the origin of the leak, to the amount of oil released into the environment, to the spill’s duration, the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill poses unique challenges to human health. The risks associated with extensive, prolonged use of …

[more]

Transportation Research Board Special Report 309: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems

TRB Special Report 309: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems recommends that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) take a holistic approach to evaluating the …

[more]

Gulf Research Program: A Strategic Vision

In 2010 the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, resulting in significant impacts on the region’s environment and residents. Legal settlements with the …

[more]

Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Community Resilience and Health: Summary of a Workshop

There are many connections between human communities and their surrounding environments that influence community resilience and health in the Gulf of Mexico. The impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf communities and ecosystems …

[more]

Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Monitoring Ecosystem Restoration and Deep Water Environments: A Workshop Summary

Environmental monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico poses extensive challenges and significant opportunities. Multiple jurisdictions manage this biogeographically and culturally diverse region, whose monitoring programs tend to be project-specific by …

[more]

Opportunities for the Gulf Research Program: Middle-Skilled Workforce Needs: Summary of a Workshop

During the period 1990 to 2010, U.S. job growth occurred primarily in the high-skilled and low-skilled sectors. Yet, one-third of projected job growth for the period 2010-2020 will require middle-skilled workers — who will earn strong …

[more]

The Animal-Human Link to Infectious Disease

Long-eared_BatBats are the most populous mammal—with more than 1,200 species representing around 25% of all mammal species—and are found in all parts of the world except for the North and South poles and some remote islands. Although they carry a number of viruses without symptoms (e.g., SARS, Hendra, Nipah, and Ebola), little is known about their response to disease. The Institute of Medicine’s new report Emerging Viral Diseases discusses the use of nontraditional animal models — like bats — to study the development of disease, host-virus relationships, and the nature of the immune responses to particular diseases.

As human and animal populations grow and encroach on each other’s habitats, the likelihood of zoonotic diseases increases. Changes in climate and rapid movement of increasingly more people and goods around the world make infectious disease more difficult to contain. Reports from the Institute of Medicine address the challenges of surveillance and response to these threats. All are free to download.

Emerging Viral Diseases: The One Health Connection: Workshop Summary

In the past half century, deadly disease outbreaks caused by novel viruses of animal origin – Nipah virus in Malaysia, Hendra virus in Australia, Hantavirus in the United States, Ebola virus in Africa, along with HIV (human immunodeficiency …

[more]

Achieving Sustainable Global Capacity for Surveillance and Response to Emerging Diseases of Zoonotic Origin: Workshop Summary

One of the biggest threats today is the uncertainty surrounding the emergence of a novel pathogen or the re-emergence of a known infectious disease that might result in disease outbreaks with great losses of human life and immense global economic …

[more]

Sustaining Global Surveillance and Response to Emerging Zoonotic Diseases

H1N1 (“swine flu”), SARS, mad cow disease, and HIV/AIDS are a few examples of zoonotic diseases-diseases transmitted between humans and animals. Zoonotic diseases are a growing concern given multiple factors: their often novel and unpredictable …

[more]

Infectious Disease Movement in a Borderless World: Workshop Summary

Modern transportation allows people, animals, and plants–and the pathogens they carry–to travel more easily than ever before. The ease and speed of travel, tourism, and international trade connect once-remote areas with one another, eliminating …

[more]

Science and the Criminal Justice System

Almost every day, our country’s criminal justice system is being questioned. Part of that is due to the fact that our reliance on imprisonment has not clearly improved public safety and may have had large unwanted consequences for society. A change in course is needed.

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States urges policymakers to reconsider sentencing policies and to seek crime-control strategies that are more effective, with better public safety benefits and fewer unwanted consequences. The video below illustrates the findings of that report.

The Dissemination Toolkit contains resources to help expand the reach of the report. Issue Briefs, Report Briefs, and an update on report activities from the report committee chair, Jeremy Travis, can inform discussion and debate about incarceration in the United States and its effects on individuals, families, communities, and society.

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences

After decades of stability from the 1920s to the early 1970s, the rate of imprisonment in the United States more than quadrupled during the last four decades. The U.S. penal population of 2.2 million adults is by far the largest in the world. Just under one-quarter of the world’s prisoners are held in American prisons. The U.S. rate of incarceration, with nearly 1 out of every 100 adults in prison or jail, is 5 to 10 times higher than the rates in Western Europe and other democracies. The …

[more]

This infographic from the National Academies Press highlights the causes and effects of the increasing rate of incarceration in the U.S., as detailed in the full report.