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Science operations planning expertise: A neglected component of mission design

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2011
<mark>Journal</mark>Advances in Space Research
Issue number5
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)971-978
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In this paper, Science Operations Planning Expertise (SOPE) is defined as the expertise that is held by people who have the two following qualities. First they have both theoretical and practical experience in operations planning, in general, and in space science operations planning in particular. Second, they can be used, on request and at least, to provide with advice the teams that design and implement science operations systems in order to optimise the performance and productivity of the mission. However, the relevance and use of such SOPE early on during the Mission Design Phase (MDP) is not sufficiently recognised. As a result, science operations planning is often neglected or poorly assessed during the mission definition phases. This can result in mission architectures that are not optimum in terms of cost and scientific returns, particularly for missions that require a significant amount of science operations planning. Consequently, science operations planning difficulties and cost underestimations are often realised only when it is too late to design and implement the most appropriate solutions. In addition, higher costs can potentially reduce both the number of new missions and the chances of existing ones to be extended. Moreover, the quality, and subsequently efficiency, of SOPE can vary greatly. This is why we also believe that the best possible type of SOPE requires a structure similar to the ones of existing bodies of expertise dedicated to the data processing such as the International Planetary Data Alliance (IPDA), the Space Physics Archive Search and Extract (SPASE) or the Planetary Data System (PDS). Indeed, this is the only way of efficiently identifying science operations planning issues and their solutions as well as of keeping track of them in order to apply them to new missions. Therefore, this paper advocates for the need to allocate resources in order to both optimise the use of SOPE early on during the MDP and to perform, at least, a feasibility study of such a more structured SOPE. (C) 2011 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.