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 2019 draft goals document now available:
Updated Version August 28, 2019 (citable for White Papers)
Outer Planets Assessment Group White Paper, April 30, 2020
UPDATED 14 NOVEMBER 2019: The Decadal community white paper submission page is now live on the LPI website:
The purpose of this site is to allow members of the planetary science community to inform one another of their intent to submit a white paper as part of the planetary decadal survey. This site is for information only; listing a white paper proposal here does not commit the author to submitting a white paper.
OPAG WHITE PAPER INFORMATION
The Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) is soliciting topics for White Papers to be submitted to the upcoming 2023–2033 Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey. The list of white papers currently being prepared by members of the OPAG community, and the status of their preparation are recorded at the following link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1as89GEyX50SUrTOOEZBw9dw6bYmmH8vaQFH2nkeRFhU/edit?usp=sharing
Members of OPAG community who are interested in joining any white paper effort should contact the lead author.
We also encourage the OPAG community to examine the current list of white papers, and identify any gaps in the topics covered by those white papers. When any gap is identified, you may initiate an effort to close those gaps by starting a new white paper, or by contacting OPAG steering committee members to discuss how to proceed.
New entries to the above spreadsheet can still be made via the submission form at this link: https://forms.gle/o4ZxADBUPNZ9jpRp9
To make changes to existing entries, please contact Kunio Sayanagi. In particular, lead authors may be interested in adding a URL (e.g., google form) people may follow to co-sign/endorse their white papers.
Dear OPAG Community,
The OPAG Steering Committee would like to announce upcoming openings on the OPAG Steering Committee, and ask for the community's help to reach out to potential candidates who can serve the OPAG community.
We first invite the community to review the current steering committee membership at this link: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/committee/
Of the current members, Britney Schmidt, Mark Hofstadter, Alfred McEwen and Jeff Bowman will be rolling off from the committee after the September 2020 OPAG meeting. We invite the OPAG community to join the rest of the steering committee in thanking them for their service to the community.
We seek to identify candidates who can fill any gaps that will be opened by the departure of these members. Through the search process, we will also strive to ensure representation across multiple axes to foster an interdisciplinary, diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible community. All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, particularly those with expertise in Giant Planet Interiors, Io, Ocean Worlds & Cryospheres (field and experimental), Astrobiology, and those able to represent Science Mission Directorate Cross-Divisional interests.
We intend to accept nominations after the OPAG virtual meeting in September 2020 and ask the new members to start their service in time for the Spring 2021 meeting. Details of the nomination process include providing a one-page letter of interest and a two-page NASA proposal-style CV that address what community the candidates represent, and how they will enhance that community's representation on the steering committee. A New Members subcommittee of the OPAG Steering Committee will review all of the nominations and make recommendations to the full Steering Committee.
Meanwhile, the OPAG Steering Committee would like the community's help to reach out to potential candidates to make them aware of the upcoming openings, and start discussing how the community would like to be represented on the OPAG Steering Committee. We will designate time to discuss the process and receive community input at the OPAG meeting in September. Nominations will be accepted starting on October 9, 2020 and will be due by November 9, 2020. Please send your nominations, with the letter of interest and CV together in a single PDF file , to: firstname.lastname@example.org. For the file name, please use the format Lastname-FirstName-OPAG.
Jeff Moore and Linda Spilker
NASA Mission Science Team Meeting Opportunities for Early Career Scientists
Dear OPAG members,
NASA is proposing an exciting path for early career scientists to expose them to a mission science team experience by observing the next science team meetings for the Psyche, Europa Clipper, and Dragonfly missions. Details of this new opportunity are given below in a message from NASA.
Participation on a mission science team is a formative experience with long-standing benefits to scientists. While NASA provides additional opportunities to serve on mission science teams (for example, via Participating Scientist Programs, formal team affiliations via Co-Is on science teams, etc.), extended and immersive opportunities to serve on science teams are inherently limited considering the small number of missions in existence. In addition, such opportunities can be difficult for early career scientists to utilize.
NASA is considering more accessible ways to significantly increase the number of early career scientists exposed to the mission science team experience. Based on feedback from the community, one such method under consideration is inviting senior graduate students and early career scientists to observe mission science team meetings. Paired with mentors from the science team, it is hoped that such an experience can provide valuable insight on the work and team dynamics that take place on missions. The opportunity’s limited scope could, over time, enable more scientists to participate than existing opportunities, providing a gateway experience to help early career scientists make informed decisions about their career paths.
The Psyche, Europa Clipper, Dragonfly missions are providing the opportunity for early career scientists to observe their next science team meetings. This opportunity is open to graduate students in or beyond their third year of earning their doctorate or early career scientists within seven years of receiving their doctorate. Because of ITAR concerns, at this time the opportunity is limited to U.S. citizens and green card holders. Interested candidates should submit a letter no longer than two pages that describes their background and research interests, how such an experience could be of benefit to them, and which mission they wish to observe (along with any special interests in particular areas of that mission). Respondents will be selected based upon the anticipated impact to their career path and the alignment of the mission with their research interests. Selection preference will be given to individuals from institutions that are underrepresented on planetary science missions. NASA recognizes and supports the benefits of having diverse and inclusive communities and expects that such values will be reflected in this opportunity. Letters and questions can be sent to email@example.com with the subject line “Science Team Meeting.” Those interested in observing the Europa Clipper mission must respond by September 14, 2020, while those interested in the Dragonfly or Psyche missions must respond by September 30, 2020.
Linda Spilker and Jeff Moore
February 3–4, 2020 OPAG Meeting
Lunar and Planetary Institute, Universities Space Research Association (USRA)
3600 Bay Area Blvd,
Houston, Texas 77058
Agenda and Presentations
Letter to NASA HQ – EDIWoG
OPAG Feb 2020 Findings
Findings Transmittal Letter
Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) Town Hall
EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting 2019
September 20, 1:30–3:00
Moon (Room 15) ( SMW1.12)
Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG), Geneva, Switzerland
The purpose of the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) Town Hall is to update the community on OPAG activities and get community input for upcoming activities, especially as they pertain to the run up for the next Decadal Survey.
August 19, 2019 OPAG Subsurface Needs for Ocean Worlds Meeting #1
University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP)
August 20–21, 2019 OPAG Meeting
University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP)
Agenda and Presentations
OPAG Priority Science Questions: Letter to Dr. Lori Glaze, NASA PSD Director (August 27, 2019)
Fall 2019 Findings
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.