Outer Planets Assessment Group
The Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) was established by NASA in late 2004 to identify scientific priorities and pathways for exploration in the outer solar system. The group consists of a 15-person steering committee, which actively solicits input from the scientific community and reports its findings to NASA Headquarters. OPAG provides input to NASA but does not make recommendations.
OPAG is NASA's community-based forum designed to provide science input for planning and prioritizing outer planet exploration activities for the next several decades. It is chartered by NASA's Solar System Exploration Division and reports its findings at meetings of the Solar System Exploration Sub-Committee of the NASA Space Science Advisory Committee. Open to all interested scientists, OPAG regularly evaluates outer solar system exploration goals, objectives, investigations and required measurements on the basis of the widest possible community outreach.
Updated 2018 draft goals document now available for community feedback:
The next OPAG Meeting will be held August 20–21, 2019, Boulder, CO. The day prior, August 19, will be the Ocean World Access Working Group Workshop. The meeting will be held at the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP), Space Science Building, Room W120 (SPSC) on East Campus, 3665 Discovery Drive, Boulder, Colorado, 80303. Directions to SPSC can be found at http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/about/address-directions/spsc/ .
Registration and hotel information still to come.
The Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) will be devoting the bulk of its August meeting to discussions and preparation for the next Decadal Survey. Community members are encouraged to attend and add their voice to this diverse discussion. During the meeting we will arrange panel discussions on various topics. Please contact Carrie Chavez (email@example.com) by August 15 if you would like to lead one of these panel discussions. By the end of the meeting we expect to produce a list of three key recommendations to develop and eventually deliver to the Decadal Survey committee for consideration.
OPAG Subsurface Needs for Ocean Worlds Meeting #1
Accessing into and through the ice shells of ocean worlds will both enable compelling science, including the search for evidence of past and present life, and require dedicated technology programs to realize. OPAG invites members of the astrobiology, planetary science, ocean science and technology communities to join together in a community-based forum aimed at defining the path to the ocean(s).
The first Subsurface Needs for Ocean Worlds meeting will be held 9am-5pm August 19, 2019, immediately prior to the fall OPAG meeting in Boulder, CO. This 1-day workshop is designed to be an open forum to discuss technology needs, common science drivers, and mission architectures for Ocean Worlds exploration. The agenda will include a mixture of short presentations, break out groups, and lighting talks on technology and science.
SNOW meeting #1 will seek to develop plans for Decadal Survey white paper(s) and define action items and agenda for the next meeting (prior to the winter/spring OPAG meeting).
Early career scientists are encouraged to participate. For those who receive support for the OPAG meeting, costs to extend the trip to attend SNOW can also be supported.
To register for the meeting, please follow the link below:
Europa Lander Instrument PEA
Special OPAG Steering Committee Finding, May 26, 2017
NASA released "Community Announcement Regarding Europa Lander Instrument Investigation Program Element Appendix” on May 17, 2017 (see http://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/announcements/). This announcement included a surprising statement regarding participation by JPL: "…the following organizations will be prohibited from submitting proposals in response to the PEA: the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Cornell Technical Services (CTS), and Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. These organizations will provide substantial support to the development and execution of the PEA. In particular, JPL personnel will support the development of the AO and documents in the Program Library, assess the accommodation of proposed instrument investigations, provide technical support to teams during Step 2, and participate in site visits during the Step-2 evaluation.” The OPAG steering committee is concerned about the potential exclusion of JPL scientists and instrument technology experts who have spent decades preparing for a life-detection mission such as Europa Lander. We urge NASA to proceed in a way that does not increase risk to Europa Lander science by excluding key capabilities. We note that NASA has funded much highly relevant work at JPL via R&A programs and the Astrobiology Institute, and instrument technology development via MatISSE, PICASSO, COLDtech, and other programs. Excluding the knowledge gained from such efforts would be counterproductive.
The OPAG Steering Committee urges NASA to proceed with Europa Lander instrument and science team selections in a way that results in the best possible science return.
OPAG Science Goals Document 2015
Draft for Community Comment
2013 Europa Clipper Update
Robert Pappalardo, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Brain Cooke, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
"Science Potential from a Europa Lander" in Astrobiology
Read the definitive, peer-reviewed version of the Science Definition Team's report on "Science Potential from a Europa Lander" in the journal Astrobiology.