2003 Space Science Enterprise Theme Roadmaps
Astronomical Search for Origins and Planetary Systems
We seek to observe the birth of the earliest galaxies, the formation of stars, to find all the planetary systems in our solar neighborhood, to find planets that are capable of harboring life, and to learn whether life does exist beyond our solar system.
Structure and Evolution of the Universe
How did the Universe begin? Does time have a beginning and an end? Does space have edges? Einstein's theory of relativity replies to these ancient questions with three startling predictions that the Universe is expanding from a Big Bang; that black holes so distort space and time that time stops at their edges; and that a dark energy could be pulling space apart, sending galaxies forever beyond the edge of the visible Universe. Observations confirm these remarkable predictions, the last finding only four years ago. Yet Einstein's legacy is incomplete.
Sun Earth Connection
Life on Earth prospers in a biosphere that is sustained by energy from the Sun. The Earth's upper atmosphere and magnetic field generally protect the biosphere against the more dangerous electromagnetic radiation and particles emanating from the Sun. In turn, the extended magnetic field of the Sun shields the Earth from very high-energy radiation that originates at supernovae and other cataclysmic events outside the solar system. Understanding this complex system is the goal of the Sun Earth Connection theme.
Solar System Exploration
The Solar System Exploration science objectives are founded on the fundamental human drive to understand our beginnings, our place in the cosmos, and the evolution and destiny of our home and ourselves. Taken together they tell a story, written in the language of the planets, of how our solar system formed and developed, and how life arose within it.