12. What will not get done at NASA if this money is spent on Euclid?
13. What chance is there that WFIRST will not be done at all, with or without Euclid?
Waleed Abdalati delivered an overview for the study to Assess U.S. Participation in Euclid. He began with the current status of the WFIRST mission. JWST has been designated as the first funding priority for NASA Astrophysics with a launch date for WFIRST no earlier than 2022. Abdalati cautioned that this was a highly ambitious launch date due to the current budget situation. He continued on to discuss previous NASA contributions to foreign missions and the current opportunity for U.S. participation in the ESA Euclid mission, which is scheduled to launch in 2019. The contribution being discussed was a hardware contribution, possibly in the form of one of the following: near-infrared (NIR) detectors, a filter wheel for the NISP instrument, or reaction wheels. In return, NASA would receive one position on the Euclid Science Team (EST) with accompanying co-collaborators becoming members of the Euclid Consortium (EC). NASA would also receive immediate access to the Euclid data, as opposed to waiting until the end of the proprietary period. In addition, this would set the stage for discussions of future collaborations on software development for Euclid as well as European collaborations on WFIRST—although neither of these are under discussion at this time. Abdalati stated that a formal commitment from NASA to ESA would be necessary by Spring 2012. Abdalati stated that the $20 million to $25 million cost of the hardware contribution to Euclid would have no impact on WFIRST since the project is not likely to begin within the next few years. When asked about possible coordination with other U.S. agencies, such as the Department of Energy, he stated that there are no collaborations in the works at the moment, but this could be a possibility in the future.
Panel Discussion with NASA Summary
Panelists: Paul Hertz (Acting Director, Astrophysics Division), Richard Griffiths (Euclid Program Scientist), Rita Sambruna (WFIRST Program Scientist), Lia LaPiana (Euclid and WFIRST Program Executive)
Representatives from NASA participated in a panel discussion with the committee to offer insight into the proposed agreement with ESA concerning a hardware contribution to the Euclid program. Building on Waleed Abdalati’s earlier presentation and answering questions from the committee, the NASA panel outlined more details of the expected terms of an agreement with NASA—that is, a hardware contribution in exchange for a seat on the EST and immediate access to the data. They stressed that the deal would be neither a quid pro quo nor a package deal with a potential future NASA-ESA collaboration on WFIRST. A separate discussion of ESA’s potential participation in WFIRST would come at a later time. Hertz discussed the potential effects on WFIRST, financial and otherwise, assuring the committee that although there would be some cost constraints associated with participation in Euclid, this would not hinder the WFIRST schedule. He confirmed that there would also be costs in the out years to support a science team, but these would most likely be traded with other opportunities in the astrophysics budget. Owing to the costs of completing JWST, the current expectation for the budget does not have an opening for WFIRST until 2018, with a launch date of 2022 or later. The committee questioned whether the proposed $20 million for Euclid could instead be used to accelerate WFIRST. The NASA panel responded that while $20 million is a significant amount of money, Phase B of WFIRST is easily $100 million per year, so this current Euclid plan would not considerably impact the ramp-up phase of WFIRST when it occurs.