Terms of Reference
The Mercury Exploration Assessment Group (MExAG) is a community-based, interdisciplinary body responsible for providing science input and analysis needed to plan and prioritize Mercury research and exploration activities.
Membership of MExAG, and participation in its activities, is open to all members of the planetary science and exploration community, e.g., scientists, engineers, technologists, and other professionals—in academia, industry, government, or the commercial sector—who are interested in the exploration of Mercury. International participation is welcome.
- Assess—on the basis of the widest possible community outreach—Mercury exploration goals, objectives, investigations, and required measurements, and use these assessments to publish and maintain a “Mercury Goals” document;
- Prepare findings, assessments, and other information that can be used to inform decisions on the science, technology, and operational content and priorities for Mercury missions;
- Upon request of NASA (or NASA advisory committees), provide reviews or other assessments related to the study and exploration of Mercury;
- Provide a forum for maintaining and building the Mercury science and exploration community, i.e., MExAG will provide a venue for broad discussion of Mercury exploration science, technology, and operational issues, and will provide a conduit for community input into Mercury exploration activities and planning; and
- Communicate its findings and assessments to the planetary science community and to NASA. MExAG will present those findings for which a formal response from NASA is desired to the Planetary Science Advisory Committee (PAC). Findings in response to requests from NASA or its advisory committees will also be reported to the originator(s) of the request. All findings are posted to the MExAG website.
Organization and Process
The Chair of MExAG is drawn from the planetary science community and is appointed, for a term of three years, in consultation with the Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD). The Chair is responsible for reporting findings (as described above) to the PAC, and must not be a PAC member.
A Steering Committee assists the Chair and supports the Group’s planning and activities. Nominations for the Steering Committee are solicited through an open call to the community, and appointments are made by the MExAG Chair, in consultation with the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is constituted to achieve a functional balance and diversity from members of the Mercury exploration, and planetary science, community. The nominal term for Steering Committee members is three years, with approximately one-third of the Steering Committee commencing their term each year. A NASA liaison (a PSD staff member, appointed by the PSD Director) serves as the single point of contact with NASA. The NASA liaison serves as an Ex Officio, non-voting, member of the Steering Committee.
The MExAG Chair provides final approval, prioritization, and scheduling of requested tasks after consultation with the MExAG NASA Liaison and Steering Committee.
MExAG may choose to organize sub-groups (e.g., science analysis or interest groups) to deal with specific issues; these sub-groups report their findings to the Steering Committee and the full community. Reports are formally approved by the MExAG Chair, after review by the MExAG Steering Committee and discussion in an open MExAG forum.
MExAG meets at least once per year, or as otherwise requested by NASA. The MExAG Chair and NASA Liaison set the regular annual meeting schedule, in consultation with the Steering Committee.
The MExAG meeting and status reports are posted to the MExAG website and are provided to the PAC and NASA PSD.
Logistical and organizational support to the MExAG will be provided by SMD.
Last updated by Dr Steven A. Hauck, II (Chair), in consultation with Dr Shoshana Weider (NASA Liaison) and Dr Lori Glaze (PSD Director), April 8, 2020
The terms and process for recommendation of individuals for the roles MExAG Chair and of the Vice-Chair is available here and were last updated by Dr Steven A. Hauck, II (Chair) following adoption by the MExAG Steering Committee on January 20, 2023.