1. Describe the scientific context of the importance of these opportunities, including connections to other parts of astronomy and astrophysics and, where appropriate, to the advancement of our broader scientific understanding;

  2. Describe the key advances in observation and theory necessary to realize the scientific opportunities within the decade 2010-2020; and

  3. Considering the relative compelling nature of the opportunities identified and the expected accessibility of the measurement regimes required, call out up to four central questions that are ripe for answering and one general area where there is unusual discovery potential and that define the scientific frontier of the next decade in the SFP’s sub-field of astronomy and astrophysics.

In completing this task, each Science Frontiers Panel will provide the Astronomy and Astrophysics 2010 Committee’s Subcommittee on Science with its inputs in the Spring of 2009 and complete its panel report thereafter. The panel reports will be published following the release of the main survey committee’s report in 2010. The Subcommittee on Science will issue a request for community input to ensure broad community participation in the process of identifying the scientific frontiers.

GALACTIC NEIGHBORHOOD STATEMENT OF TASK

The Galactic Neighborhood (GAN) Panel will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in GAN research in the 2010-2020 decade. Its scope will encompass the galactic neighborhood, including the structure and properties of the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and their stellar populations and evolution, as well as interstellar media and star clusters. Its assessment will play a key role in the Astronomy and Astrophysics 2010 study, which will survey the field of space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics, recommending priorities for the most important scientific and technical activities of the decade 2010-2020. The GAN Panel will prepare a report that will identify the scientific drivers of the field and the most promising opportunities for progress in research in the next decade, taking into consideration those areas where the technical means and the theoretical foundations are in place for major steps forward.

More broadly, this panel will be charged (as will each of the five science panels) with the following tasks:

  1. Identify new scientific opportunities and compelling scientific themes that have arisen from recent advances and accomplishments in astronomy and astrophysics;

  2. Describe the scientific context of the importance of these opportunities, including connections to other parts of astronomy and astrophysics and, where appropriate, to the advancement of our broader scientific understanding;



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