The Euclid science effort is organized into two main bodies: the EST, which currently has 12 members, and the Euclid Consortium, a much larger group comprising more than 900 members from over a dozen countries, with an EC Board as its governing body. The EST includes the Euclid Project Scientist, nine members of the EC Board, and two legacy scientist positions; one of these legacy scientist positions is currently unassigned. The EST is responsible for defining science requirements and is the Euclid scientific advisory body to ESA. The EC is responsible for the visible and infrared instruments on Euclid, data processing, science products, science exploitation, external ancillary data, and simulations.43 Given the EC’s responsibilities, a NASA-appointed position to both the EST and the EC Board (9 of the current 12 EST members have appointments in both44) could be important to facilitate the U.S. science return from Euclid.
Previous experience shows that U.S. involvement in science teams has enhanced the U.S. science return from European-led missions.45 Euclid will release all of its data after its proprietary period—quickrelease data will be released 14 months after the start of the survey, and products from all levels will be released 26 months after the start of the survey.46 If NASA is a partner, it will support making these data available to the U.S. community47 per NASA policy. With this partnership, U.S. members of the EST and Euclid Consortium members should be able to obtain a deeper understanding of the instrument. This should enhance their ability to carry out analyses of the Euclid data and to combine these data with other surveys.48
Finding: NASA has stated that participation in Euclid at the proposed modest level would not delay WFIRST.
NASA presented a plan to the committee for a near-term (fiscal year (FY) 2013-2014) hardware contribution to Euclid with a value of up to $20 million to $30 million (in U.S. dollars). In his presentation to the committee, Astrophysics Division Acting Director Paul Hertz stated that this amount would constitute (and be reallocated from) about 20 percent of the funds planned within the run-out of the president’s FY2012 budget request for allocation by the division for NWNH priorities in the same timeframe and would thus have a modest albeit non-negligible impact on those programs. Dr. Hertz also stated that expenditure of these funds on Euclid hardware would not impact the launch schedule for WFIRST, since according to current NASA budget projections significant expenditure on the WFIRST mission would only commence in the 2017-2018 timeframe, when JWST construction spending rolls off. As part of its participation in Euclid, NASA would also support a science team at the $1.5- to $3-million-per-year level expected in the 2016-2025 timeframe.49
Finding: Despite its priority in NWNH, WFIRST has only very low-level support for pre-phase-A studies.
While WFIRST does not present major technical challenges, thorough mission studies would enable the mission to move forward quickly once funding is available. WFIRST lacks any grants program that supports mission studies (such as scientific mission simulations) outside the U.S. NASA centers.50