part on the availability of new technology that will inspire and enable astronomy and astrophysics in the decade to come. Furthermore, in the development of its recommendations the committee considered the challenges and constraints of the current federal budget environment along with its own independent and critical evaluation of proposed activities. The need for balance across the program was carefully considered.

The committee adopted four major criteria as the basis for prioritization of activities:

  • Maximizing the scientific contribution and return identified by the survey process (see Chapter 2);

  • Building on the current astronomy and astrophysics enterprise (see Chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6);

  • Balancing activities that can be completed in the 2012-2021 decade against making investments for the next decade; and

  • Optimizing the science return under highly constrained budget guidelines by assessing activity readiness, technical risk, schedule risk, cost risk, and opportunities for collaboration.

Program Prioritization

The science case developed by the committee in Chapter 2 served as a principal component of the evaluation of proposed activities that was undertaken by this survey. It was drawn from the questions and discovery areas identified by the five Science Frontiers Panels (SFPs) appointed by the National Research Council (NRC) to assist the committee, namely:

  • Cosmology and Fundamental Physics,

  • The Galactic Neighborhood,

  • Galaxies Across Cosmic Time,

  • Planetary Systems and Star Formation, and

  • Stars and Stellar Evolution.

The charge to and principal findings of the SFPs are summarized in Appendix A. The individual SFP reports describe in more detail the science priorities.1 The work of these panels formed the foundation for the prioritization process.


See National Research Council, Panel ReportsNew Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2011.

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