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Suggested Citation:"INTRODUCTION ." National Research Council. 1976. An International Discussion of Space Observatories: Report of a Conference Held at Williamsburg, Virginia, January 26-29, 1976. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12381.
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1. INTRODUCTION An inlemational conference was held in Williamsburg, Virginia, January 26- 29, 1976, under the atnplces of the National Academy of Sciences (N AS) of the United States and the European Science Foundation (ESF) to discuss the scientifiC importance and use of planned space obsetvatories. The meeting was organized jointly by the Space Science Bo.trd of theN AS and the Space Sci- ence and Astronomy Cornrnillees of the ES •· and was conducted under the chairmansh.ip of Sir Harrie Massey. Although the conference covered all space observatories, the participants paid particular auenlion to the projected Large Space Telescope (LST) be- cause of its exceptional sW~ificance for the future of astronomy. In so doing, the participants were fully aware of the close relation of the LST to ground- based optical astronomy. Indeed , when the LST is in operation, there will be a new generation of ground-ba.se<t telescopes; these will conduct observations that will be nece$$3ry for, and complementary to, those of the LST, whose mission will be in those areas in which it alone can operate. The conference considered the LST and its mission and then discussed aspects of its scientific use, including institutional questions and problems posed by data handling and scientific manpower. The participants then reached conclusions on the role of tl1e LST withln the broader framework of optical astronomy and mude recommendations aimed at ensuring full scientific exploitation of this unique lnilrumcnt. This report describes the basic information on which their discussions were based and lists their con· elusions and recommendations. The participants would like to thank the conference observers for the many valuable contributions they made. The Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Dr. James C. Fletcher, and the Director-General of the European Space Agency, Mr. Roy Gibson, participated in an infonnal discussion of the con- clusions and recommendations of the conference. 1

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