telescopes and supporting broad-ranging observational and theoretical research that optimizes the return from operating facilities. The goal of the committee, consistent with its charge, has been to maximize the science return for a given budget. The committee found that in some cases the balance of resources is not optimal, and this report contains a number of recommendations to augment or adjust the foundations of the program.
The committee’s proposed program (Chapter 7) is recommended on the basis of four general criteria—maximizing scientific contribution, building on the current astronomy and astrophysics enterprise, balancing this decade’s programs against investing in the next decade’s, and optimizing the science return given the highly constrained budget. These criteria are discussed further below. The resulting program emphasizes certain capabilities for U.S. leadership, including all-sky synoptic imaging on the ground and in space, large-aperture telescopes, exploration of non-electromagnetic portals to the universe, technology and software, public-private and international partnerships, frequent opportunities for new medium-scale instrumentation on the ground and in space, and interdisciplinary work, especially work involving connections between astrophysics and physics.
Finally, a key concern of the committee’s is the stewardship of the present survey’s recommended program. Although a good-faith attempt has been made to provide answers to all the questions raised by the charge, it is in the very nature of research that unforeseen issues requiring community advice will arise. In addition, there will be a need to monitor progress. Accordingly, implementation of the survey will require stewardship over the coming decade in the form of strategic advice requested by but generated independent of the agencies supporting the field.
RECOMMENDATION: NASA, NSF, and DOE should on a regular basis request advice from an independent standing committee constituted to monitor progress toward reaching the goals recommended in the decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics, and to provide strategic advice to the agencies over the decade of implementation. Such a decadal survey implementation advisory committee (DSIAC) should be charged to produce annual reports to the agencies, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as a mid-decade review of the progress made. The implementation advisory committee should be independent of the agencies and the agency advisory committees in its membership, management, and operation.