ExoPAG 21 (January 3-4, 2020)

The following findings were drafted by the ExoPAG Executive Committee, shared for discussion with the ExoPAG at the 21st ExoPAG Meeting January 3-4, 2020, and approved with the outcomes of each vote reported below. The findings and vote outcomes were shared with the NASA Astrophysics Advisory Committee (APAC) and APD Director Paul Hertz.

Finding #1: On the need to invest in databases to support programs related to achieving NASA’s strategic goals.

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Whereas candidate missions plan to observe a limited number of nearby target stars, and whereas each mission has different criteria for selecting targets, and whereas a comprehensive catalog of the physical and environmental properties of all nearby stars and their planetary systems could make future surveys more efficient (e.g. understanding the multiplicity or composition of potential targets given apparent correlations between these properties and exoplanet demographics), perhaps more cost effective, and probably lower risk,

We find that assembling such a catalog can potentially save significant NASA resources, and would help candidate missions address ExoPAG Science Gaps 06, 07, and 10, which contribute significantly to achieving NASA’s strategic goals.

[61 Yes, 0 No, 1 Abstention]

Finding #2: On the topic of ExoPAG providing input to other Divisions and programs on topics related to Exoplanets.

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Whereas ExoPAG is inherently an interdisciplinary research community whose expertise and interests are relevant to some programs covered by the Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics Divisions, and whereas some programs administered by NASA, such as XRP, draw resources from multiple divisions, and whereas new initiatives, such as the Lunar Development and Analysis Program, could benefit from input from communities such as ExoPAG,

We find that multiple audiences would benefit from exposure to reports and findings generated by the ExoPAG to help shape their research programs, and that ExoPAG could benefit from receiving relevant reports and findings from other Program Analysis Groups.

[58 Yes, 0 No, 2 Abstentions]

Finding #3: On the topic of evolution in the Exoplanet Research Program (XRP) outcomes and funding lines.

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Whereas the Exoplanet Research Program (XRP) has been one of NASA’s most successful R&A programs in addressing critical elements of NASA’s strategic goals specifically related to exoplanet science, and whereas the research community is growing and dynamic having the highest rate of new NASA R&A PIs of any other program, and whereas the success rate has dropped to the lowest rate of any other R&A program (with the exception of the FINNEST fellowships), and whereas the funding mechanisms, as well as the scope of the calls, are expected to evolve in the coming year as other divisions participate,

We find that close monitoring of the program, scrutiny of success rates and programmatic balance, along with feedback from and communication with the community might help avoid unintended consequences during this evolution.

[58 Yes, 0 No, 5 Abstentions]