New NSF Grant: to Europa
I'm delighted to announce that I've been awarded an NSF "EAGER" grant for exploratory research on the Europa mission project. This grant will support two years of work with NASA's recently-selected community of scientists to study how missions get their start. What decisions and processes go into creating a large-scale sociotechnical system? How do these decisions get built into the eventual artifacts that people work with for thirty years or more? Stay tuned for more info and updates about the Europa mission as it develops. In the meanwhile, here is an excerpt from the grant description:
"This exploratory research will study the development of NASA's mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, in order to understand how large, complex, cyber-human systems get started; how their team members develop and then implement a shared vision for their system given heterogeneous backgrounds and collaborative experiences; and what role these activities play in future science and technology outcomes. The Europa robot space probe will repeatedly scan this icy moon that may possess subsurface lakes comparable to those in Antarctica, using nine distinct computerized instruments, including cameras, spectrometers, a magnetometer, and a thermal instrument. While no hardware or software for the Europa mission yet exists, over the period of the research members of the planetary science community will engage in a frenzy of mission activity to turn their plans for space exploration into tangible technologies, building the cyber-human system that will enable their collaborative mission to the Jupiter system. This is a rare opportunity to observe a highly innovative cyber-human team forming for the first time, before their system is constructed, as they ask the questions and articulate the values that will establish the core elements of their eventual information system."