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Additional resources for A Performance Assessment of NASA's Heliophysics Program - NRC
These swings in funding have reduced the frequency of Explorer, STP, and overall Heliophysics Division spacecraft missions, decreasing opportunities for scientific investigations. 10 shows the launch rate for NASA Heliophysics Division spacecraft missions, which peaked at two to four missions per year in 2006 to 2008 but is projected to decrease to between zero and one mission per year in the 2009 to 2013 time frame. ) OTHER PROGRAM CHANGES SINCE THE DECADAL SURVEY In addition to cost growth, underestimated costs, and budget changes, changes in mission priorities, schedules, and launch vehicles have altered NASA’s implementation of the decadal survey’s recommendations and may continue to do so in the future.
Background: The decadal survey’s third priority moderate mission is the Jupiter Polar Mission (JPM), which will investigate the electrodynamic coupling of the Jovian magnetosphere with the high-latitude atmosphere and the formation of auroras at high latitudes in the Jovian atmosphere. In 2005, the Juno mission was selected as the next New Horizons mission by the Planetary Science Division. Its suite of seven scientific instruments will determine the ratio of oxygen to hydrogen in the Jupiter atmosphere; precisely map Jupiter’s gravitational and magnetic fields; map the variation in atmospheric composition, temperature structure, and cloud opacity; and characterize and explore the three-dimensional structure of Jupiter’s polar magnetosphere and its auroras.
While the IBEX mission (launched October 2008) will use state-of-the-art particle imaging techniques to examine the boundary between the interstellar medium and the heliosphere. The long and successful history of the Explorer Program has evidenced attributes of missions typically led by principal investigators. These missions are conducted very close to the initial schedule and are completed with little deviation from the initially specified (capped) costs. They return excellent science value and excitement and usually operate successfully well beyond minimum performance periods, managing to achieve strategic objectives for the field as they fill emerging science gaps.