In formulating its conclusions, each PPP was charged to draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2010 Science Frontiers Panels, (2) input from the proponents of particular research activities, and (3) independent cost and technical readiness assessments. The panels’ recommendations were integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Astro2010 Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics. In particular, each PPP was charged to:

  • Report on the status of existing research activities to set the context for future research activities, incorporating findings of the survey’s Infrastructure Study Groups.

  • Preview and compare proposed research activities, including those carried forward from previous surveys that have not been given a formal construction start.

  • State the relative importance of (1) smaller projects and generic research programs that involve competitive peer review and (2) programs that leverage public and private infrastructure investments, where appropriate.

  • Assess and describe the best available estimates of the construction costs and lifetimes for each recommended research activity together with their full running costs (operations, science, and upgrades).

  • Identify particular risks for each research activity that would adversely affect the projected cost, technical readiness, or schedule of the activity. Identify those factors that could change an activity’s priority and/or scope.

  • Informed by (1) the recommendations of the Science Frontiers Panels and (2) the panel’s own research activity assessments, recommend a prioritized, balanced, and integrated research program that includes a rank ordering of research activities and a balanced technology development program.

A preliminary PPP-recommended program was used to identify activities that were then subjected to an independent cost appraisal and technical evaluation (CATE). Each panel’s final recommendations to the Astro2010 survey committee included consideration of the CATE results. Each PPP provided the committee with an interim internal and confidential summary report of its recommended program in the Fall of 2009 and submitted its complete panel report thereafter. The PPP reports are included in the second volume of the decadal survey, along with the reports of the Science Frontiers Panels.1

The main results from the four PPPs are summarized in Table B.1.


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

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