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NASA Looks to the Future in Vision 2050 Workshop

By: , Posted on: March 14, 2017

K2-33b, shown in this illustration, is one of the youngest exoplanets detected to date using NASA Kepler Space Telescope. It makes a complete orbit around its star in about five days. These two characteristics combined provide exciting new directions for planet-formation theories. K2-33b could have formed on a farther out orbit and quickly migrated inward. Alternatively, it could have formed in situ, or in place. ©2016 NASA/JPL-Caltech

There have been a number of exciting developments in Space Exploration and Planetary Science in recent years, including the recent announcement about seven Earth-sized exoplanets around a nearby star with the potential for hosting life, new perspectives on Pluto after the New Horizons flyby in 2015, and the successful landing of a reusable rocket by SpaceX.

These developments are just a small sampling pointing to the potential for the future of the field. To address some of the priorities as we look ahead, NASA held the Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop from February 27 to March 1 with the explicit goal of laying out a direction for space science and exploration over the next three decades. The workshop addressed five key themes: origins of solar systems, workings of our solar system, life, defense and resources, and policy and capabilities.

Thanks to the workshop being live streamed, I was able to listen to a majority of the talks. As an Acquisitions Editor for Elsevier’s Space and Planetary Science portfolio, I plan to keep what I’ve learned in mind as I talk to potential editors and authors about the content needed for enhancing space and planetary research in the coming decades.

There were three themes that stood out to me as they kept coming up across a variety of discussions:

  1. Interdisciplinary cooperation: Many speakers pointed out that scientists of varying disciplines, from researchers of different planets and Earth scientists to engineers and computer scientists, need to communicate and work together to achieve similar goals and apply knowledge across disciplines. Not only that, academia, government, and industry should also be open to collaboration internationally.

2. Science should further reflect society: This means that organizations should continue to support diversity in the workplace. It also means that organizations should prioritize education and outreach so that people are both aware of what is being learned and how it applies to them and also how they can support it—perhaps through crowdfunding in some cases.

3. Aiming for more human exploration: In the next 30 years we may very well see a scientific base on the Moon or a human landing on Mars. The search for life on other planets continues, as well as the exploration of planetary bodies in our Solar System for habitability.

What are some other takeaways you see as we look to the future of space and planetary science? Contact me to discuss ways you think books could help achieve these goals!

In the meantime, browse some of our titles on these topics at or on Science Direct:


Encylopedia of the Solar System

Edited by: Tilman Spohn Doris Breuer Torrence Johnson

sensitivity analysis in earth observation modelling

Edited by: George Petropoulos Prashant Srivastava

data assimilation for the geosciences
By: Steven Fletcher

kappa distributions
By: George Livadiotis

Earth & Environmental Science

The fields of Earth science, planetary sciences, and environmental science encompass disciplines critical to the future of our world and its inhabitants. Our well-being depends on a thorough understanding of air and water resources, soil chemistry, atmospheric dynamics, geology, and geochemistry, along with a myriad of other aspects of the environment we live in. Elsevier supports the efforts of researchers and scholars in these areas with content that meets their cross-disciplinary needs: journals, books, eBooks, and online tools that span computer science, chemistry, energy, engineering, biology, agronomy, ecology, environmental impact and many other topics fundamental to the study of our world. Learn more about our Earth and Environmental Science books here.