Recent decisions by NASA to terminate the Cassini final-year funding and the PI-led ICEMAG investigation on the Europa Clipper mission (replaced by a facility magnetometer investigation) raise concerns within the Outer Planets Assessment Group (OPAG) science community. The OPAG Steering Committee issued three findings with a request for NASA’s response:
1. OPAG encourages NASA to invite the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science (CAPS) of the National Academies to investigate the ICEMAG termination process and rationale and to potentially make recommendations to NASA SMD about how to define a clear and transparent process for potential termination of PI-led flight experiments.
2. OPAG encourages NASA to provide sufficient transition funding to support an adequate closeout of the Cassini project that will minimize the impact on young scientists and other investigators who would be disproportionately impacted by this large, abrupt funding cut.
3. OPAG applauds the spectacular success of the Cassini mission at Saturn and asks NASA to adequately support CDAP to ensure optimum science output from this mission.
The full findings on Cassini and ICEMAG can be found at: https://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/meetings/archive/.
We plan to discuss both matters at the upcoming OPAG meeting on April 23-24, 2019, at NASA Headquarters.