As an early step in the survey process (Figure 7.1), the committee issued a request for information to the astronomy and astrophysics community to solicit input on possible future research activities. More than 100 responses proposed significant construction or programmatic activities. Following an initial analysis by the PPPs, the survey committee requested further and more detailed information from a set of activity teams, which was subjected to a novel cost appraisal and technical evaluation (CATE) process (see Appendix C for a detailed discussion of this process). The objective of the CATE process was to judge the readiness, technical risk, and schedule risk for the proposed projects, and then to construct associated cost and schedule estimates. The CATE process was conducted by a private contractor (the Aerospace Corporation) that was hired by the NRC to assist the committee in executing this element of its charge.
Throughout the course of the survey, the committee and the PPPs remained engaged with the contractor to ensure that the contractor understood the key aspects of the proposed activities and the key points of analysis required by the panels and the committee. All elements of a project required to produce an initial science result were included in the assessment. The assessment was intended to include technical development and construction costs, as well as operating costs for a nominal 5-year mission or project execution, but not research costs needed to exploit the