RECOMMENDATION: U.S. investors in astronomy and astrophysics, both public and private, should consider a wide range of approaches to realize participation in international projects and to provide access for the U.S. astronomy and astrophysics community to a larger suite of facilities than can be supported within the United States. These approaches could include not only shared construction and operation costs but also strategic time-sharing and data-sharing agreements. The long-term goal should be to maximize the scientific output from major astronomical facilities throughout the world, a goal that is best achieved through opening access to all astronomers.

International partnership should be regarded as an element of a broader strategy to coordinate construction and support of and access to astronomical facilities worldwide and to build scientific capability around the world.

International Strategic Planning

Beyond the arena of science coordination and shared access to individual facilities, greater international consciousness and coordination in the planning of the future astronomical agenda as a whole are increasingly evident. The European scientific community has initiated international planning on a pan-European scale over the past 5 years, with its ASTRONET2 and ASPERA (Astroparticle ERAnet), and the European Space Agency (ESA) Cosmic Vision exercises. These and similar plans from other communities are loosely modeled after the NRC decadal survey process, but up to now have not interacted to any substantive degree with the planning in the United States or elsewhere. Recognizing the potential value of international coordination and planning, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum and the International Astronomical Union have sponsored workshops and other activities for the planning of future large facilities. The NRC’s Board on International Scientific Organizations also recently held a symposium to bring scientists together with program managers and governmental ministers from around the world to discuss plans for the future.3

Although one might well envisage a time later in this century when the exercise embodied in this Astro2010 activity is carried out by an internationally organized committee under the sponsorship of all member agencies, it is far too soon to


For more information on the ASTRONET survey and its reports, see


The U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) worked with the National Research Council’s Board on International Scientific Organizations, Board on Physics and Astronomy, and the Space Studies Board to host the symposium “Beyond the Decade: The Future of International Astronomy. A Celebration of the International Year of Astronomy,” held on October 9, 2009, in Washington, D.C.; see

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