would bring new classes of objects into clear view for the first time. The MMA utilizes experience and technology developed for the Very Large Array and for two smaller millimeter arrays.

  • An 8-m optical telescope, operating from the Southern Hemisphere, would give U.S. astronomers access to important objects in southern skies. All-sky coverage is essential for pursuing many of the most fundamental astronomical questions.

Small and Moderate Programs

Small and moderate-sized programs can be carried out relatively quickly in response to new scientific or technological developments, focusing research into the currently most rewarding areas and making possible greater participation by young astronomers. Some of the most exciting scientific results of the past decade have come from modest, cost-effective programs.

  • The committee recommends that an increased emphasis be given in the astronomy research budget to small and moderate programs.


Recommendations for moderate-sized space programs include a three-phase augmentation of NASA's Explorer program by purchasing a dedicated spacecraft for the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopy Explorer (FUSE), increasing the number of astrophysics missions launched on Delta rockets to six for the decade, and increasing the number of astrophysics Explorers launched on Scout-class rockets to five for the decade.

The Stratospheric Observatory for Far-Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a moderate-sized telescope in a 747 aircraft, would open submillimeter and far-infrared wavelengths to routine observation and would help train new generations of experimentalists. The committee emphasizes that a moderate-class Astrometric Interferometry Mission (AIM) capable of measuring the positions of astronomical objects with a precision of a few millionths of an arcsecond would have a great impact on many branches of astronomy. The committee recommends specific funding for flying U.S. instruments on foreign spacecraft.


For ground-based astronomy, the committee judged that two innovative techniques, adaptive optics and interferometry, can greatly enhance the spatial resolution of astronomical images. Adaptive optics can ameliorate the distorting effects of atmospheric turbulence and can be applied to existing or planned telescopes at infrared wavelengths, and eventually at optical wavelengths. The

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