• The European Space Agency (ESA) is considering an M-class proposal, called Euclid, with related goals. Collaboration on a combined mission with the United States playing a leading role should be considered so long as the committee’s recommended science program is preserved and overall cost savings result. (p. 1-6)
• Euclid is a European mission concept aimed at cosmology and dark energy, which is competing for one of two M(edium)-class launch slots, with a decision expected in late 2011 and launches scheduled for 2018 and 2019.10 The overlap in goals and scope between the proposed U.S. and European missions is significant, and there is potentially a grand partnering arrangement involving NASA, DOE, and ESA if the expanded scientific priorities set by Astro2010 for such a mission can be aligned among the partners, and assuming that the arrangement is consistent with the United States playing a clear leadership role. (p. 3-14)
• There have been discussions between the U.S. agencies and ESA about mounting a joint mission, which could be a positive development if it leads to timely execution of a program that fully supports all of the key science goals of WFIRST (planet microlensing, dark energy science, general investigations) and leads to savings overall. It is expected that the United States will play a leading role in this top-priority mission. (p. 7-18)
As is clear from the quotes above, NWNH looked favorably on international participation with the Europeans on WFIRST/Euclid science, but only in the context of (1) “a clear leadership role” for the United States and (2) “a [timely] program that fully supports all of the key science goals of WFIRST (planet microlensing, dark energy science, general investigations) and leads to savings overall,” as articulated above.
In the most restricted budget scenario considered by the Astro2010 decadal survey committee, NWNH stated as follows:11
In the event that insufficient funds are available to carry out the recommended program, the first priority is to develop, launch, and operate WFIRST, and to implement the Explorer program and core research program recommended augmentations.…(p. 7-40)
Even under such constrained circumstances, NWNH insisted on maintaining balance in the program and did not support sacrificing or significantly delaying any one element of the remaining components of its integrated plan for one large mission.
In addition, consistent with this theme and related to the current situation with the James Webb Space Telescope, NWNH clearly objected to the use of funds to address overruns in large and medium missions at the expense of core activities. One relevant paragraph in NWNH contains the following words:12
NASA’s core research programs, from theoretical studies to innovative technology development, are fundamental to mission development and essential for scientific progress…Maintaining these core activities has a high priority for the survey committee, and the budget allocations should not be allowed to decrease to address overruns in the costs of large and medium missions.” (p. 1-9)
10 As heard from the European Space Agency at the November 7, 2010, meeting, there are two M-class mission launch opportunities within 2017-2018, and the current budget would allow an M-class mission launch in 2022, assuming the first large-class mission will be launched in 2020.
11 NRC, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics [prepublication], 2010.
12 NRC, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics [prepublication], 2010.