FIGURE 4.7 The interest of young girls and members of underrepresented minority groups in science can be cultivated through the public appeal of astronomy programs such as Sally Ride Science Festival Hands-on Workshops (left, experimentation with basic telescope concepts) and the Astronomical Society of the Pacifics Project Astro (right, appreciating black hole physics). SOURCE: LeftCourtesy of Sally Ride Science 2010 and Toni di Martino. RightCourtesy of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

FIGURE 4.7 The interest of young girls and members of underrepresented minority groups in science can be cultivated through the public appeal of astronomy programs such as Sally Ride Science Festival Hands-on Workshops (left, experimentation with basic telescope concepts) and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Project Astro (right, appreciating black hole physics). SOURCE: Left—Courtesy of Sally Ride Science 2010 and Toni di Martino. Right—Courtesy of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

authorities. In addition to the applications mentioned above, image-processing techniques developed by astronomers are now in wide use in arthroscopic surgery, industrial applications, and even in tracking endangered animals. Scheduling software developed for the Hubble Space Telescope has now been adapted to optimize semiconductor manufacture and to manage patient flow in hospitals.

Astronomy and the America COMPETES Act

As the examples discussed above make clear, astronomy and astrophysics can make major contributions in all three areas highlighted in the America COMPETES Act:

  1. To strengthen research investment and to foster innovation and frontier research. Astronomical research is transformative at the most fundamental level, exploring areas as far-reaching as the origin of the universe, the search for Earth-like planets in other solar systems, and the understanding of fundamental physical principles. Astronomy and astrophysics are drivers for innovation in technology, especially in optical systems, detectors, and data processing. Many of these tech-



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