Innovative Study Supports Asteroid Initiative, Journey To Mars

David Steitz at NASA: “Innovation is a primary tool for problem solving at NASA. Whether creating new robotic spacecraft to explore asteroids or developing space habitats for our journey to Mars, innovative thinking is key to our success. NASA leads the federal government in cutting edge methods for conceptualizing and then executing America’s space exploration goals.

One example of NASA innovation is the agency’s work with the Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology (ECAST) Network. The ECAST group provided a citizen-focused, participatory technology assessment of NASA’s Asteroid Initiative, increasing public understanding of and engagement in the initiative while also providing the agency with new knowledge for use in planning our future missions.

“Participatory Exploration includes public engagement as we chart the course for future NASA activities, ranging from planetary defense to boots on Mars,” said Jason Kessler, program executive for NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge within the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The innovative methodology for public engagement that the ECAST has given us opens new avenues for dialog directly with stakeholders across the nation, Americans who have and want to share their ideas with NASA on activities the agency is executing, now and in the future.”

In addition to formal “requests for information” or forums with industry for ideas, NASA employed ECAST to engage in a “participatory technology assessment,” an engagement model that seeks to improve the outcomes of science and technology decision-making through dialog with informed citizens. Participatory technology assessment involves engaging a group of non-experts who are representative of the general population but who—unlike political, academic, and industry stakeholders—who are often underrepresented in technology-related policymaking….(More)”