RAS PN 05/39: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY ISSUES STATEMENT ON THE FUTURE OF UK PLANETARY SCIENCES
The statement, which has been put together by leading Fellows of the RAS, draws attention to the multidisciplinary nature of Solar System studies in the 21st Century and highlights the need to support a broad range of expertise, if the UK is to maintain its world leading status in the field.
Dr Mike Hapgood, of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, who has led the study said, “This is an important time in the worldwide development of planetary science. Our ability to study the Solar System is advancing rapidly – in particular through a greater ability to fly scientific instruments to other planets. The UK can make a leading contribution to the international development of planetary science, as demonstrated by the expertise developed in planetary landers, based on experience gained from Beagle 2 and, more recently, the highly successful Huygens mission.”
The RAS statement identifies ground-based telescopes as an area where the UK planetary science community has not exploited opportunities to the full and suggests that ground-based studies of the Solar System should be given a higher priority and profile.
The potential of planetary missions to engage the public with science is also highlighted in the statement. In view of the difficulties in encouraging young people into science and engineering disciplines, Vice-Chancellors and Provosts are encouraged to recognise both the attractiveness of this area to students and the ability of UK researchers to attract funding.
The statement acknowledges that extra government spending in astronomical research in recent years has been necessary and welcome. However, the report warns that funding must continue to increase if the government wishes to capitalise on the interest generated by recent missions such as Cassini Huygens, and highlights the importance of independent scientific review in allocating extra spend.
The statement praises recent growth in the open debate of present and future scientific paths and emphasises that this must continue if the planetary science community is to maintain a focussed direction and make the most efficient use of resources available.
THE FUTURE OF PLANETARY SCIENCES IN THE UK.pdf (68.98 KB)
Future of Planetary Sciences in the UK.doc (43.50 KB)
Dr Mike Hapgood
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 446520
Fax: +44 (0) 1235 445848