National Academies Press: OpenBook

Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s (2021)

Chapter: Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26141.
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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26141.
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Page 224
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26141.
×
Page 225
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26141.
×
Page 226
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26141.
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Page 227

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A Statement of Task and Panel Descriptions STATEMENT OF TASK The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall convene an ad hoc survey committee and supporting study panels to carry out a decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. The study will generate consensus recommendations to implement a comprehensive strategy and vision for a decade of transformative science at the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics. The committee, with inputs from study panels covering the breadth of astronomy and astrophysics, will carry out the following tasks: 1. Provide an overview of the current state of astronomy and astrophysics science, and technology research in support of that science, with connections to other scientific areas where appropriate; 2. Identify the most compelling science challenges and frontiers in astronomy and astrophysics, which shall motivate the committee’s strategy for the future; 3. Develop a comprehensive research strategy to advance the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics for the period 2022-2032 that will include identifying, recommending, and ranking the highest priority research activities—taking into account for each activity the scientific case, international and private landscape, timing, cost category and cost risk, as well as technical readiness, technical risk, and opportunities for partnerships. The strategy should be balanced, by considering large, medium, and small activities for both ground and space. (Activities include any project, telescope, facility, experiment, mission, or research program of sufficient scope to be identified separately in the final report.) For each recommended activity the committee will lay out the principal science objectives and activity capabilities, including assumed or recommended activity lifetime, where possible; 4. Utilize and recommend decision rules, where appropriate, for the comprehensive research strategy that can accommodate significant but reasonable deviations in the projected budget or changes in urgency precipitated by new discoveries or unanticipated competitive activities; 5. Assess the state of the profession, using information available externally and, if necessary, data gathered by the study itself, including workforce and demographic issues in the field. Identify areas of concern and importance to the community raised by this assessment in service of the future vitality and capability of the astronomy and astrophysics work force. Where possible, provide specific, actionable and practical recommendations to the agencies and community to address these areas. This report shall be made available following the completion of the study. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-1

PANEL DESCRIPTIONS—SCIENCE PANELS Panel on Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena The Panel on Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of compact objects and energetic phenomena in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include white dwarfs; neutron stars; pulsars; magnetars; stellar mass black holes; compact binary systems; novae; supernovae: gamma-ray bursts; fast radio bursts; physical processes and accretion onto supermassive black holes; and gravitational radiation and high-energy particles and radiation from astrophysical sources. Panel on Cosmology The Panel on Cosmology will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in cosmology research in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include the early universe, the cosmic microwave background, cosmological tests and parameters, the epoch of reionization observations and theory large scale structure, dark energy, dark matter (excluding direct detection), and gravitational lensing and microlensing as applied to cosmology, as well as astrophysical tests of fundamental physics. Panel on Galaxies The Panel on Galaxies will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in galaxy research in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include observations, theory, and simulations of galaxy formation and evolution, galactic structure and dynamics, galaxy clusters, stellar populations in galaxies, the intergalactic medium, chemical evolution of galaxies, gravitational lensing as applied to galaxy structure, demographics of supermassive black holes, co-evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes, relevant aspects of Milky Way science, and related phenomena associated with active galactic nuclei. Panel on Exoplanets, Astrobiology, and the Solar System The Panel on Exoplanets, Astrobiology, and the Solar System will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of exoplanets, astrobiology, and the solar system in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include the detection, demographics, and physical characteristics of exoplanets, solar system observations relevant to Astro2020, astrobiology, stellar phenomena and activity that impact detectability and characterization of exoplanets, and effects of stellar activity on the evolution and habitability of planets. The panel will consider as inputs the congressionally mandated reports Exoplanet Science Strategy and An Astrobiology Strategy for the Search for Life in the Universe. Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation The Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of the interstellar medium and the formation of stars and planets in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include the interstellar medium and star formation in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, astrochemistry, interstellar plasmas, protoplanetary disks and debris disks, and planet formation. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-2

Panel on Stars, the Sun, and Stellar Populations The Panel on Stars, the Sun, and Stellar Populations will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of stars, stellar populations, and the Sun in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include stellar structure and evolution, stellar activity and variability, brown dwarfs, solar astronomy as relevant to Astro2020, resolved stellar populations and star clusters in the local group, and stellar nucleosynthesis and chemical evolution. PANEL DESCRIPTIONS—PROGRAM PANELS Panel on an Enabling Foundation for Research The Panel on An Enabling Foundation for Research will summarize the current state of resources and support, identify major challenges, and make suggestions to the Astro2020 committee on the topics of theory, computation, and simulation; data collection, archiving, and analysis; facilities, funding, and programs; laboratory astrophysics; and general technology development. The Panel’s suggestions will be incorporated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Committee on Astro2020. Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 1 The Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 1 (EOS1) will identify and suggest to the decadal survey committee a program of federal investment in research activities that involve observations of astrophysical phenomena primarily by means of ultraviolet, optical, and near-infrared electromagnetic measurements from space. The EOS1 panel will also consider technology development needs to support the program. In formulating its conclusions, the EOS1 panel will draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2020 science panels, (2) input from the proponents of research activities, and (3) independent risk, technical readiness, and cost evaluations. The EOS1 panel’s suggestions will be integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Astro2020 Committee. Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 2 The Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 2 (EOS2) will identify and suggest to the decadal survey committee a program of federal investment in research activities that involve observations of astrophysical phenomena primarily by means of radio, far-infrared, and high-energy electromagnetic observations from space; and research activities that involve gravitational radiation or particle detection from space. The EOS2 panel will also consider technology development needs to support the program. In formulating its conclusions, the EOS2 panel will draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2020 science panels, (2) input from the proponents of research activities, and (3) independent risk, technical readiness, and cost evaluations. The EOS2 panel’s suggestions will be integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Astro2020 Committee. Panel on Optical and Infrared Observations from the Ground The Panel on Optical and Infrared Observations from the Ground (OIR) will identify and suggest to the decadal survey committee a program of federal investment in ground-based research activities that involve observations of astrophysical phenomena primarily by means of optical and infrared measurements from the ground. The OIR panel will also consider technology development needs to PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-3

support the program. In formulating its conclusions, the OIR panel will draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2020 science panels, (2) input from the proponents of research activities, and (3) independent risk, technical readiness, and cost evaluations. The OIR panel’s suggestions will be integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Astro2020 Committee. Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation The Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation (PAG) will identify and suggest to the decadal survey committee a program of federal investment in research activities exploring areas at the interface of physics and astronomy such as gravitational radiation, gamma-ray astronomy, cosmic rays, and neutrinos. The PAG panel will also consider technology development needs to support the program. In formulating its conclusions, the PAG panel will draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2020 science panels, (2) input from the proponents of research activities, and (3) independent risk, technical readiness, and cost evaluations. The PAG panel’s suggestions will be integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Astro2020 Committee. Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Observations from the Ground The Panel on Radio, Millimeter and Submillimeter (RMS) Observations from the Ground will identify and suggest to the decadal survey committee a program of federal investment in ground-based research activities that primarily operate in the radio, millimeter, and submillimeter portions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The RMS panel will also consider technology development needs to support the program. In formulating its conclusions, the RMS panel will draw on several sources of information: (1) the science forefronts identified by the Astro2020 science panels, (2) input from the proponents of research activities, and (3) independent risk, technical readiness, and cost evaluations. The RMS panel’s suggestions will be integrated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Committee on Astro2020. PANEL DESCRIPTION—PANEL ON STATE OF THE PROFESSION AND SOCIETAL IMPACTS The Panel on State of the Profession and Societal Impacts will gather information on the health and demographics of the astronomy and astrophysics community and make actionable suggestions to the Astro2020 committee on the topics of demographics, diversity and inclusion, workplace climate, workforce development, education, public outreach, and relevant areas of astronomy and public policy. The panel’s suggestions will be incorporated into a program for all of astronomy and astrophysics by the Committee on Astro2020. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM THE STEERING COMMITTEE TO THE SCIENCE PANELS Astro2020’s steering committee gave additional instructions to the science panels as they carried out their work of defining science themes for the next decade. Regarding content, the science panels were asked to provide a brief review of the current state of the science in their topic areas, and determine four important science questions to be addressed in the next decade and one area that shows great promise for discovery. The science panels were also asked to provide a summary of the general capabilities needed to address the science questions and discovery areas without going into an excess of quantitative detail. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-4

Linking general capabilities to specific ground or space activities in consideration by the decadal survey was out of scope for the science panels. To accomplish their work, the panels relied on the 572 science white papers submitted by the astronomy and astrophysics community, the expertise of the panel members, discussion with other panels about common topics, and invited speakers if necessary to fill in any gaps. Structurally, the science panels were requested to keep their reports brief, keeping figures and citations to a minimum, but they were not constrained in how they chose to organize their writing. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FROM THE STEERING COMMITTEE TO THE PROGRAM PANELS Astro2020’s steering committee gave additional instructions to the program panels as they carried out their work of suggesting programs of federal investment in research activities for the next decade. These programs were then to be integrated by the steering committee into a recommended program for all of astronomy and astrophysics. Regarding content, the program panels were asked to provide a brief summary of the current state of the relevant program area to include facilities and programs in development, international capabilities, and major gaps in capabilities available to the U.S. astrophysics community. The program panels were also charged to assess the ability of current and proposed projects under consideration to address the science panels’ questions and discovery areas, to comment on the technical, risk, and cost evaluations (TRACE) of the proposed projects, and to identify key areas of technical development or precursor research activities. The program panels were requested to identify the projects that were best suited for and most readily prepared to address the science priorities in the next decade; however, they were not asked to provide a ranked list of investments. The program panels had the option, but were not required, to discuss how the proposed projects might be modified to better fit the science priorities or the expected future budget availability. For medium-scale projects usually chosen by competitive selection, the program panels were asked to give examples of these projects and to discuss the balance of medium- and small-scale activities versus larger strategic investments. Detailed discussion of additional research and theory programs was primarily the task of the Panel on an Enabling Foundation for Research. To accomplish their work, the panels relied on 294 activity, project, and state of the profession (APC) white papers submitted by the astronomy and astrophysics community, the expertise of the panel members, independent TRACE analyses of selected projects, and as needed, invited speakers and additional requests for information from the proposed projects. Structurally, the program panels were requested to keep their reports brief but were not constrained in how they chose to organize their writing. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION A-5

Next: Appendix B: Report of the Panel on Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena »
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We live in a time of extraordinary discovery and progress in astronomy and astrophysics. The next decade will transform our understanding of the universe and humanity's place in it. Every decade the U.S. agencies that provide primary federal funding for astronomy and astrophysics request a survey to assess the status of, and opportunities for the Nation's efforts to forward our understanding of the cosmos. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s identifies the most compelling science goals and presents an ambitious program of ground- and space-based activities for future investment in the next decade and beyond. The decadal survey identifies three important science themes for the next decade aimed at investigating Earth-like extrasolar planets, the most energetic processes in the universe, and the evolution of galaxies. The Astro2020 report also recommends critical near-term actions to support the foundations of the profession as well as the technologies and tools needed to carry out the science.

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