Presentation #502.03 in the session “Plenary Panel: Workforce Townhall”.
The Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey Statement of Task explicitly states that the Decadal Survey “should provide a clear exposition of [⋯] The state of the profession including issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility, the creation of safe workspaces, and recommended policies and practices to improve the state of the profession. Where possible, provide specific, actionable and practical recommendations to the agencies and community to address these areas” (item 9 of Statement of Task). This objective — which is listed on the same level as determining NASA’s planetary science and mission priorities — is the first of its kind for a planetary science decadal survey.
In order to understand the state of the planetary workforce, we need to study it. These studies are part of the large amount of service work that takes place in our profession. Service is required to keep science moving and improving. We need people to review papers and proposals, plan meetings, determine science priorities, and to study how we are accomplishing our work. There are many systems in place that carry out this service load: official review panels, NASA Advisory and Assessment groups, and professional organizations (such as DPS). There are also studies that get carried out because an individual or group asks a question for which they would like an answer. For example, recent studies have been undertaken because questions arose regarding whether participating scientist programs benefitted mission science; if harassment was prevalent; and what the planetary workforce pipeline looked like.
Much of the service work performed for the planetary science community is unfunded, and, therefore, unsustainable. In this presentation we will suggest better ways not only to fund these types of service activities but also ways to make sure prominent and important questions are addressed by people with the appropriate skill sets.