toward discovering the prevalence of life in the universe. The discoveries that will be made will profoundly change our view of the cosmos and our place within it.
Astronomy, ever young, is vibrant and currently growing by attracting enthusiastic and skilled newcomers from other fields—particle physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, and nuclear physics—and traditional astronomers’ professional horizons are enlarged by learning from them. This is truly a privileged time to be an astronomer.
Changes are apparent now in the way research is being done. It is more ambitious. And it is also more collaborative and more international, which enlarges the realm of what is achievable. This context complicates the task of preparing a strategic vision and necessitates a new fiscal, technical, and temporal realism at a time of constrained economic resources in the United States that will inevitably lead to a smaller fraction of the global research effort supported by the federal government.