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DEIA in Planetary Spacecraft Mission Science Teams

Presentation #111.01 in the session Workforce and the State of Our Profession.

Published onOct 20, 2022
DEIA in Planetary Spacecraft Mission Science Teams

The April 2020 survey of Planetary Scientists, which was conducted by the Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and funded by the American Astronomical Society (AAS)’s Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) asked participants how many times they had been involved in Research, Instrument, or Mission proposals as a Principal Investigator (PI) and, separately, as a Co-Investigator (CoI). Answers to questions about mission involvement were correlated with answers to demographic questions and the results show that members of historically included groups were more likely to be involved in spacecraft mission proposals than were non-white scientists, scientists who are disabled, members of the LGBTQ+ community, or women. We already know that there are barriers to entry in planetary science for members of historically excluded groups. These data show that even those who overcome those barriers face additional barriers to full participation and success in our field. While the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey includes recommendations which address barriers to entry in our field and outreach to historically excluded populations, barriers that exist for members of historically excluded groups who are already working in our field were not addressed. In addition, rather than being interwoven throughout the various chapters of the Decadal Report, the status of DEIA in Planetary Science was solely confined to the State of the Profession chapter, which might have contributed to the focus on recruitment. The Consensus Report on Recommendations from the 2022 Advancing IDEA in Planetary Science Conference ( included several recommendations that could mitigate barriers for members of historically excluded groups who are working in our field. These recommendations, included:

Recommendation A.2.1: NASA should consider team diversity when selecting and extending missions, projects, facilities, and other large teams.

Recommendation A.2.2: In order to retain that diversity, project teams must also implement policies for creating inclusive and safe environments, including but not limited to codes of conduct and bystander intervention training.

Recommendation A.10: NASA should provide funding to support programs that provide opportunities for early career scientists to gain experience during mission development and mission operational phases, as well as opportunities to progress in mission roles over time.

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