SUMMARY OF THE 5th MEETING (STEERING COMMITTEE ONLY) OF THE SPACE MISSION PLANNING ADVISORY GROUP, 10 NOVEMBER 2015
The second meeting of the Steering Committee of the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG) took place at National Harbor, Maryland, USA on the margins of the 2015 AAS Division of Planetary Sciences meeting.
Participants were delegates from the European Space Agency, Germany and the United States. In addition, observers from the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and Austria were present. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) supported the meeting.
Following an opening update on the status of SMPAG and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), DLR gave a brief update on their recent work under NEOShield and NASA gave a status update on the new NEO programme managed by the new Planetary Defense Coordination Office within NASA's Science Mission Directorate and on the recent work being undertaken.
The main focus of this meeting was the discussion of the status of each activity in the work plan. Task leaders who were present at the meeting gave an update on the status of their work items. Other leaders had sent updates in writing, which were summarized by the Chair. The discussion raised questions on the current structure of the document and on the sections of the work plan currently unassigned a leader. Participants worked on the language of the work plan. The decision was taken that activity 5.5 (‘plan for SMPAG action in case of a credible threat') would be led by NASA and supported by the representative of the IAA.
Version 1.0 of the work plan was adopted at the meeting. This will be the first official version of the work plan which will remain a living document to be considered again at future SMPAG meetings.
The discussion on a statement endorsing deflection missions continued. The text was considered but, lacking full representation of SMPAG membership, the decision was taken to revisit the statement at the next SMPAG meeting.
It was proposed that UNOOSA might act as secretariat of SMPAG. UNOOSA will investigate internally and send information to the SMPAG Chair regarding the possibilities and conditions in order that a decision could be taken at the next SMPAG meeting.
The participants deliberated on the possible establishment of an ad hoc working group under SMPAG on legal issues associated with asteroid mitigation. The main tasks would be to identify the legal issues relevant to SMPAG activities. The participants agreed that at the next meeting the identification of legal issues will be an item of the agenda. This may lead to the formation of an ad hoc working group and/or to the introduction of a new work plan activity.
The group decided to release a coordinated news item reporting on SMPAG activities in 2015 and plans for the year ahead in early 2016.
In anticipation of the end of its first term as Chair in June 2016, the proposal was made for ESA to continue as Chair of SMPAG for one more term. A decision will be taken at the next meeting.
The next full SMPAG meeting is planned to be held between the 16 and 18 February 2016 on the margins of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna.