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

Chapter: 6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs

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Suggested Citation:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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:"6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs." 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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Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

6 Technology Foundations and Small and Medium Scale Sustaining Programs In this chapter the focus shifts from current facilities to the technology development that keeps them on the cutting edge, and the small and medium projects that complement them. These elements provide rapid response to new opportunities and discoveries, and offer platforms for building a strong and diverse community of innovative instrumentalists and technologists who will drive future progress. The agencies’ historical willingness to support a significant range of program scales is a proven strength of the Nation’s astrophysics portfolio, and is an even more pressing need today, as made clear by the large costs and long development timescales for the MREFC observatories and flagship missions submitted for consideration to Astro2020. This chapter draws from the Enabling Foundations panel report, as well as from the EOS-1, EOS-2, OIR, RMS and PAG studies, all of which emphasize the need for sustaining a broad range of activities for advancing Astro2020 science goals. Small and mid-scale programs advance broad-reaching astrophysics scientific goals, and fuel new discovery. NASA’s suborbital and Explorer missions, and NSF’s Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP) projects can be conceived, implemented, and deployed on a few-year timescale, in exchange for focusing on a narrower set of capabilities or science objectives. In addition to advancing a broad range of science simultaneously and synergistically, small and mid-scale projects are essential to the agility of the science program. Astrophysics is fundamentally a discovery-driven science, and examples of major advances enabled by the ability to respond quickly to new discoveries abound. The Swift Medium Class Explorer (MIDEX), with its agile pointing and broad wavelength coverage, was conceived, developed, and launched within 6 years of the discovery of the X-ray and optical afterglows of gamma-ray bursts. Another example is the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Explorer mission, which was able to quickly capitalize and expand on the transit detection breakthroughs of Kepler to execute an all-sky census to identify potential James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) targets. On the ground, the DSA-110 MSIP radio array project was selected, developed, and is projected to be on-sky in the early 2020’s rapidly responding to the progress in the field of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). None of these capabilities could have been met with a current or planned larger project, and astronomy’s rapid response to these new scientific opportunities has been a proven success that we aim to replicate in the coming decade. The range of institutions, both public and private, that engage in technology development, small missions and experiments, and mid-scale activities such as MSIP and Explorers is another major strength of the U.S. program. Collaborations involve public and private university-based efforts, government labs supported by DOE and NIST, and NASA centers. Industrial partnerships are also important at these scales, usually for development of components requiring specialized fabrication approaches or processes. Government laboratories and NASA centers house state-of-the art, sustained capabilities for, for example, metrology, lithography, and microfabrication, essential for many technical building blocks. Universities also have special expertise and dedicated laboratory facilities and testbeds that are often unique in the world. This combination has developed world-leading technology, and small and medium-scale observatories that have had high scientific impact for astrophysics (Box 6.1). PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-1

BOX 6.1 Development of Technology for Exoplanet Imaging and Spectroscopy: An NSF, NASA, and Private Partnership Working Toward a Grand Scientific Goal Technology for imaging exoplanets has been developed in many labs, including Caltech’s Exoplanet Technology Laboratory (ETL), UCSC’s Laboratory for Adaptive Optics, the Princeton High-Contrast Imaging Laboratory, and others, combining NASA, NSF, state, and private funding. Starshade testbed at Princeton University Technology, Testbeds, and People Students, postdocs and test hardware are funded by NASA’s APRA and SAT, NSF’s ATI and STC programs, as well as private foundations. Example technologies tested in university laboratories include optical vortex coronagraphs, MEMS deformable mirrors, shaped-pupil coronagraphs, and new wavefront sensors. These laboratories have centrally involved graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who work with experienced engineers. Technology development at the ETL is Many of these young scientists are now in faculty or undertaken by students and postdocs working NASA staff positions establishing their own efforts. side-by-side with experienced engineers. Connections from the Ground to Space Technology from these programs has been incorporated into instruments such as the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), Magellan MagAO-X, and the Keck Planet Imager and Characterizer (KPIC). These instruments use concepts developed in laboratories to study young giant planets (below left) while demonstrating techniques and technology that will someday measure the atmospheres of other Earths on a large UV-OIR space mission and the ground-based Extremely Large Telescopes. Undergraduate and graduate students testing and integrating KPIC 30 Myr Thirty Meter Telescope UVOIR Space Mission 7 MJ Gemini  Planet Imager HR 8799 cde The Search for Habitable Exoplanets from Ground and Space The ultimate challenge for high contrast imaging and spectroscopy is to search for atmospheric biomarkers indicative of life. This will be undertaken by the Extremely Large Telescope (above center) for small host stars, and a large UV-IR space mission (above right) for Sun-like stars. The technology developed in these laboratories will enable both efforts. SOURCE: Upper right: Courtesy of Princeton University. Middle left: (from upper left, clockwise) Courtesy of Daniel Echeverri, Caltech Exoplanet Technology Laboratory; Courtesy of Jacques-Robert Delorme / Caltech Exoplanet Technology Laboratory; Courtesy of Jorge Llop- Sayson, Caltech Exoplanet Technology Laboratory. Lower right: People: Courtesy of N. Jovanovic et al., 2019, arXiv:1909.04541. Reproduced with permission. Instrument: Courtesy of Charlotte Z. Bond, et al., "Adaptive optics with an infrared pyramid wavefront sensor at Keck," Journal PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-2

of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems. 6(3) 039003 (24 September 2020) https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JATIS.6.3.039003. Bottom row: B1. Courtesy of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey Team. B2. Fitzgerald, M., et al. (2019). “The Planetary Systems Imager for TMT.” Bulletin of the AAS, 51(7). Retrieved from https://baas.aas.org/pub/2020n7i251 Reproduced with permission. B3. R. Juanola Parramon/N. Zimmerman/A. Roberge (NASA GSFC). Finally, these partnerships and the balance and range of project scales have been essential in developing the careers of the instrument builders, technologists, and PIs that are so important to the success of the astronomy and astrophysics enterprise. Being an effective PI of a large facility or flagship instrument, or a Small Explorer (SMEX) or MIDEX mission, requires a high degree of experience and training. These are often acquired through involvement with, and/or leadership of smaller payloads, or modest-sized ground-based instruments. The specialized training of technologists and instrument scientists is a progressive process, from the undergraduate level where students often first become engaged in the field, to graduate training in labs and on experiments, to early career stages where individuals develop their own initiatives and become established researchers. The endeavors undertaken during these career stages often progress with project size. 6.1 THE TECHNOLOGY FOUNDATIONS New technologies for astronomical instrumentation are crucial building blocks without which observational capabilities would stagnate. It is hard to imagine modern astronomy without large-format CCDs, or without the bolometers and calorimeters that are at the heart of so many observatories and experiments, from time domain facilities to forefront Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) polarization measurements. Early and significant investments in technology directed at flagship missions and large NSF facilities provide a refined understanding of costs and risks prior to construction, and for space missions it reduces the likelihood and magnitude of cost and schedule overruns during development.1 NSF’s Advanced Technology and Instrumentation (ATI) and NASA’s Astrophysics Research and Analysis (APRA) and Strategic Astrophysics Technology (SAT) programs support several essential functions: supporting the modifications required to apply technologies to the exacting needs of astronomers; demonstrating that they function in the relevant environment and as part of a system; and inventing entirely new approaches for novel astrophysical measurements. 6.1.1 NASA’s Competed Technology Development and Demonstration Programs In this section we focus on early-stage technology development, investments in technology required to advance NASA’s small and medium-scale missions, and maturation of component technologies to a level that they are ready to be incorporated into flight missions of all cost scales. We address the crucial issue of technology maturation for defined, strategic missions in Chapter 7. NASA supports two major technology programs for astrophysics—APRA and the more recently established SAT program—to support “blue-sky” and strategic, mission-oriented technology development, respectively. 6.1.1.1 APRA Technology Development APRA’s success is grounded in its open, competed calls for early-stage technology development as well as maturation and demonstration of component technologies.2 The technologies developed through this program have advanced NASA’s entire range of mission scales—from suborbital payloads, 1 J. C. Mankins, “The critical role of advanced technology investments in preventing spaceflight program cost overruns,” The Space Review, December 1, 2008, https://www.thespacereview.com/article/1262/1. 2 APRA also supports the development of suborbital payloads and laboratory astrophysics. Here we are concerned with the subset of APRA supporting technology development. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-3

to SmallSats, Explorers and Flagships over the full electromagnetic and multi-messenger spectrum, from submillimeters to gamma rays to cosmic rays. APRA is also the best opportunity in NASA Astrophysics for developing highly innovative but risky new technologies. APRA technology grants are also an important mechanism for early-career instrumentalists or technologists to establish themselves, and these grants fuel the university-based laboratory development efforts that train the next generation of innovators (Box 6.1). The APRA technology funding is, however, significantly constrained. In addition to general technology development, APRA funds a wide range of activities, from suborbital payload development and science to laboratory astrophysics. It is therefore difficult to determine the exact amount supporting new technology; the Enabling Foundations Panel report estimates that 40 percent of APRA funding, or ~$8 million a year, goes into the Detector Development and Supporting Technologies components of the program (H.2.7.1). Of concern is the fact that a typical 3-year technology development grant in either of these two categories ranges from $200,000 to a maximum $400,000 a year, with only a few awards funded at the higher level. This funding is sufficient for student and postdoc support, but not for equipment purchases necessary to start a new lab or research effort, or, for involving commercial partners in fabrication of elements involving non-recurring engineering costs. The limited APRA technology funding levels restrict its impact relative to the priorities of this survey in several important ways. First, levels are too small to address the need to advance broad technologies to acceptable levels (technical readiness level, or TRL, 5-6) for incorporation in future Explorers, suborbital and SmallSat missions. The APRA technology funding levels are also such that establishing a new laboratory effort is essentially impossible without significant supporting infrastructure provided by the host institution (i.e. leveraging an existing optics, electronics or detector lab, or using institutional start-up funds). This creates barriers to entry for young researchers or for researchers establishing new directions, and it limits the range of institutions that can effectively compete, reducing the overall diversity of participants. The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship program is intended to give early career researchers the opportunity to develop skills to lead flight instrumentation projects by providing funding to establish a laboratory and research group. The program is excellent, and has supported individuals who are now PIs on suborbital and satellite missions. However, the funding levels of $300,000 are small given that such efforts are typically multi-year, and require the purchase of significant equipment. Recommendation: NASA should increase funding levels for the Detector Development and Supporting Technology components of the Astrophysics Research and Analysis Program. Priority should be placed on increasing grant sizes for larger efforts as well as increasing the overall funding in the technology elements of the program. The total increase needed to ensure a healthy selection rate and appropriate grant sizes is estimated to be about 50 percent above inflation. 6.1.1.2 The Strategic Astrophysics Technology Program The SAT Program, initiated in response to a recommendation from New Worlds, New Horizons (NWNH), competes and selects projects aimed at maturing component technologies relevant to strategic flagship missions to the point they are demonstrated at a subsystem level and/or in a relevant environment (TRL 6). The first selections from the 2012 call responded to specific flagship technology development needs identified by NWNH. Examples of programs funded from the 2018 call include demonstration of wave front control for a future high-contrast exoplanet imaging mission such as the proposed HabEx or LUVOIR, high-resolution far-IR receivers for a mission such as the proposed Origins Space Telescope, and adjustable high-resolution X-ray optics, at the heart of the proposed Lynx flagship. While directed at flagships, some of these technologies have potential application on Explorer class missions. As a competed program open to the community, SAT draws from a large talent base at universities, NASA centers and government labs. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-4

The SAT program is an important element in addressing the maturation of component technologies at the intermediate level (TRL 3-5), however it is insufficient to address the need to co- mature mission concepts and their associated technologies in a coherent way. Chapter 7 discusses this issue, and recommends establishing The Great Observatories Mission and Technology Maturation Program to address this gap. There will, however, still be the need to mature technologies for the Probe class missions, as well as for strategic missions prior to their funding through the Great Observatories Mission and Technology Maturation program Recommendation: NASA should continue funding for the Strategic Astrophysics Technology Program, and should expand proposal calls to include intermediate level technology maturation targeted in strategic areas identified for the competed Probe class missions. 6.1.2 NSF’s Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation Program NSF’s ATI program is a critical component of the AST portfolio that supports the development of innovative, potentially transformative technologies (even at high technical risk) within the overarching AST science objectives. Although ATI is within the AST division, there is a natural overlap with broader programs such as Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) and Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program and some awards are co-funded. Technologies and instruments supported under ATI span the range from radio through optical and have included epoch of reionization receivers, very-long- baseline interferometry (VLBI), CMB experiments, Microwave Kinetic Induction Detectors (MKID), infrared (IR) detectors (Figure 6.1 shows an example), CCDs, adaptive optics, large mirrors, laser frequency combs, integral field units, specialized software, and more. In addition to technological advances, many awards lead to significant advances in observational capabilities. ATI has supported projects that are small enough to be managed by a single investigator, yet large enough to have a substantial impact.3 Crucially, ATI funding is one of the few mechanisms through which an early-career instrumentalist can become established, and these projects provide essential training for students and postdocs. FIGURE 6.1 ATI-1. Low cost infrared detector arrays for space and ground. One of the goals of the research is to produce low-cost large-format devices (up to 8000 x 8000 pixels) for the next generation of ground and space-based telescopes. The research was supported by NASA’s APRA program, NSF’s ATI program, and made use of the NSF supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) facility at Cornell University. 3 P. Kurczynski and S. Milojevic in “Enabling Discoveries: Thirty Years of Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation at the National Science Foundation,” arXiv:2001.05899. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-5

SOURCE: From Brandon J. Hanold et al., "Large format MBE HgCdTe on silicon detector development for astronomy", Proceedings of SPIE 9609, Infrared Sensors, Devices, and Applications V, 96090Y (28 August 2015); doi:10.1117/12.2195991 ATI addresses a crucial stage in instrument development. Putting major facilities aside, a modern millimeter-wave, IR, or optical instrument built for an existing ground-based telescope costs anywhere between a few and roughly $30 million, and then up to $5 million more to characterize, calibrate, operate, and deliver usable data. Bringing one of these to fruition requires careful attention to cost, schedule, and management. While there is room for some innovation, the technological foundation for these projects needs to be fairly solid for success. An underdeveloped technology can lead to delays and cost overruns in a large project. This risk can be mitigated by advancing technology through the ATI program. Past decadal surveys have recommended increased investment in developing basic technology. Despite this advice, however, NSF AST has instead significantly cut the budget for ATI over the last 10 years. Astro2010 recommended an increase in ATI funding, from 10 million a year (FY2010) to 15 million a year to accommodate general technology development, including the pressing need to develop advanced adaptive optics systems in the optical, as well as new radio instrumentation. Instead, since 2012 the ATI budget has steadily decreased until today, where for the last 3 years it has been funded at the $6 million a year level (FY2020). This contraction has significantly restricted the size of awards, so that they are no longer sufficient to develop an advanced technology without requiring researchers to seek and juggle support from multiple sources, and to rely heavily on existing infrastructure. Such infrastructure may not be available to new researchers, especially those at institutions without established technology development efforts. Finally, ATI funding is insufficient for developing small scale instrumentation (less than a few million dollars), and so the NSF-wide MRI program is the only avenue available for this. However, MRI is highly over-subscribed, requires institutional matching, and has institutional limits on the number of proposals that can be submitted. These factors severely limits the opportunities available for astrophysics instrumentation. Looking to the coming decade, the need to support advanced technologies is, if anything, greater than it was a decade ago. In Chapter 7 an expanded mid-scale program is recommended, the success of which will depend on novel technologies and approaches. The survey committee also recommends U.S. investment in very large telescopes. These will transform science, but not without state-of-the art instrumentation and adaptive optics (AO) systems that enable diffraction limited observations, which require significant technology investment. Other areas ripe for investment include, but by no means are limited to, correlators and elements of radio cameras, far-infrared detectors and spectrometers, predictive control for adaptive optics, ultraprecise radial velocity techniques, and advanced fiber positioning systems for massively multiplexed spectrographs. To ensure the future has a strong foundation in technology and instrumentation, ATI funding must be increased, a sentiment also supported by the report of the Panel on an Enabling Foundation for Research. Recommendation: The National Science Foundation should restore the Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation Program to $14 million a year (fiscal year (FY) 2020)— the same level of support it had in 2010—and further increase it to a target level of $20 million a year (FY 2020) by 2028. 6.2 SMALL AND MEDIUM-SCALE PROGRAMS As described above, small and mid-scale projects and missions are essential to sustaining scientific advances because of their speed and nimbleness in responding to new scientific opportunities, their ability to extend the wavelengths and techniques with which we observe the universe, their essential role in maturing new, transformative technologies, and their function as platforms for cultivating the next generation of instrumentalists and technologists who will build the facilities of the future. An analysis of PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-6

specific small and mid-scale instrumentation and mission programs at NASA and NSF is presented below. 6.2.1 NASA’s Small and Medium-Sized Projects and Missions Small- and mid-scale programs are absolutely essential for NASA. Not only are they key elements of a scientifically balanced portfolio, but they also address the fact that space missions are both more demanding and higher stakes than comparable ground-based projects. As such, NASA’s smaller programs that demonstrate technology and develop skilled future PI’s are core to the long-term success of its entire astrophysics portfolio. This section describes NASA’s small and medium flight programs. These are all openly competed, with projects ranging in scale from a few million dollars to ~$300 million. All of these programs emphasize scientific return in the near- and long-term, provide opportunities for immediate science (on the timescale of a graduate student education), and build the foundation for future missions of all sizes. 6.2.1.1 The Suborbital Programs NASA’s sub-orbital program addresses a wide variety of science, develops and tests essential technology for future missions, and trains the next generation of instrumentalists and project leaders. The sub-orbital portfolio comprises two components: high-altitude ballooning for reaching altitudes of up to 40 km for many days at a time (Figure 6.2) and sounding rockets to reach beyond the stratosphere for flight durations measured in minutes. Unlike orbital missions, sub-orbital programs allow rapid revision and reuse of payloads, speeding the technology development cycle. Many of NASA’s largest visions have built upon the technology and expertise developed through these programs. Time and again, the program has demonstrated its efficacy in producing leaders for space missions. As touched on elsewhere in this report, cultivating new instrumentalists is essential for maintaining and diversifying both future leadership in space astrophysics overall, as well as ensuring a technically trained scientific workforce. 6.2.1.1.1 The Balloon Program The balloon program offers access to a near-space environment with a wide variety of options for duration and sky coverage. Its wide array of capabilities include single day “conventional” flights and Long Duration Balloon (LDB) flights lasting up to 60 days in circumpolar flights around the Antarctic. After years of development, super-pressure balloons for Ultra-Long Duration Balloon (ULDB) flights carrying payloads up to 2000lbs with nearly constant float altitudes for up to 100 days, and are coming to the fore, opening up new possibilities. The balloon program’s impact on innovation and science can be seen in its breadth of payload instrumentation: kilo-pixel IR and mm-wave cameras (Figure 6.1), CMB polarimeters, stabilized platforms with sub-arcsecond pointing accuracy for wide-field UVO imaging, gamma ray detectors, and sub-atomic particle detectors. Multiple proposed satellites with CMB, IR, X- ray, and time-domain capabilities submitted to Astro2020 have roots in the balloon program, just as their predecessors did for existing and completed explorers and flagships. Pathways to improving the balloon program to take maximum advantage of these promising opportunities include: (1) increasing the number of flights; (2) continuing to strive for higher ULDB float altitudes; (3) increasing the accessibility of the program to more PIs by reducing barriers to entry; and (4) exploring structural adjustments that can support new PIs. Possibilities for accomplishing (4) include “piggy-backing” instruments on existing payloads, providing common hardware, providing access to funded engineering and mentoring support, and combinations of these. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-7

FIGURE 6.2 (left) Image of the Vela C molecular cloud taken by the balloon-borne BLASTPol instrument, showing the thermal emission at 500 microns with the direction of the magnetic field superimposed. The data provide new insights into the properties of dust and the role of magnetic fields in the interstellar medium through a wide range of densities. (right) Novel receivers based on Microwave Kinetic Inductance Detectors (MKIDs) are being developed and demonstrated as part of the BLAST program. SOURCE: Left: BLASTPol Collaboration/J.D. Soler. https://sites.northwestern.edu/blast/nearby-molecular-clouds. Right: B. Dober/NIST. See https://sites.northwestern.edu/blast/detectors. Although it is beyond the scope of this survey to perform an in-depth analysis of the program, it is clear from the Enabling Foundations report (H.2.8.1) and the progress addressing NWNH recommendations that important challenges lie ahead for achieving the goals enumerated above, particularly for taking advantage of new ULDB opportunities. The first challenge relates to the available funding levels for balloon payloads, which have not kept up with the increased scope and complexity. Although NWNH recommended increasing the funding by $5 million a year to the R&A program (pg. 222, along with a $10 million a year increase for infrastructure), the budget has remained roughly constant over the decade at $25 million a year in awards typically supporting approximately 30 payloads in various stages of build, standby, deployment, and analysis. A second challenge relates to the ballooning infrastructure and management, which requires investment and possibly reorganization to find the right balance between increasing the launch rate and balloon technology development, while recognizing the inherent risks. Finally, broadening and diversifying participation will require changes to the way NASA supports teams, particularly those with young investigators at institutions that are still developing strong, independently funded technical and engineering infrastructure. Recommendation: NASA should undertake an external review of the balloon program to establish a framework for accomplishing the competing needs of achieving flight capabilities and launch rates that meet demands, ensuring adequate investment in payloads, and lowering barriers to entry. 6.2.1.1.2 The Sounding Rocket Program Sounding rockets complement balloons by providing quick access to near-space conditions. This is a unique capability for some investigations, especially in wavebands where the residual atmosphere at balloon altitudes is limiting, such as soft X-ray, UV, and some infrared bands. Rockets are also crucial for maturing technologies and formally qualifying them for spaceflight. Because the pointing platforms are provided by NASA to the investigator teams, the barrier for entry is lower than for the balloon program, where groups typically must develop both the payload and pointing platform. This makes sounding rockets PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-8

attractive for developing new PIs, and diversifying instrument development teams. While there is limited proposal pressure from the community for increased flight rates and capabilities, the current sounding rocket program provides an important component of NASA’s astrophysics program.   Conclusion: The rocket program provides unique, irreplaceable opportunities for accessing space. It is important to maintain this capability. 6.2.1.1.3 NASA’s Explorer Program NASA’s Explorer Program provides opportunities for competed, PI-led missions on a range of scales, from the SMEX and MIDEX missions with dedicated launches, to Missions of Opportunity (MOs), to the relatively new SmallSats. The stand-alone SMEX and MIDEX platforms, with PI-managed cost caps of $145 million (FY2020) and $290 million (FY2022), respectively, enable teams to propose highly capable but focused scientific missions. These are developed and launched on 5-year timescales, and respond to new discoveries while often providing multiwavelength capabilities distinct from those of NASA’s flagships. MOs allow small payloads to be deployed on a variety of platforms, including ULDBs and instruments attached to the International Space Station (ISS). Recently, SmallSats—which include volume-limited CubeSats and other small orbital experiments launched as secondary payloads—have been added. The Enabling Foundation report (H.2.9) provides additional background, including recent selections. From the small-scale MOs to MIDEXs, NASA’s Explorer program has provided tremendous scientific return for the investment (Figure 6.3). Reflecting the program’s value, NWNH recommended increasing NASA’s investment in Explorers from $40 million to $100 million (FY2010) annually in order to increase the rate of proposal opportunities and launches. NASA has largely achieved the recommended target, and the resulting selections in the last decade, ranging from the TESS exoplanet mission to the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) X-ray timing payload deployed on the ISS, have returned exceptional science during their prime mission phases, and have also served broad user communities in their extended missions. Conclusion: NASA’s augmentation of the Explorer program in response to NWNH’s recommendation has resulted in an increased rate and a tremendous science output. Recommendation: NASA should maintain Explorer launch rates at the level specified in New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The addition of SmallSats to the Explorer Program supports the development and launch of larger (12U) CubeSats and similar-scale satellites.4 While not strictly sub-orbital, the SmallSat program has some common attributes to the balloon and sounding rocket programs. A SmallSat consists of both an instrument and a spacecraft bus that provides power, communications and pointing. The spacecraft can be commercially procured, meaning that, like the sounding rocket program and unlike the balloon program, teams can benefit from commercially provided infrastructure, and can focus on the instrument and science, potentially lowering the barrier to entry to new PIs and teams. Managing a SmallSat program can be challenging, and support provided by NASA could further increase the range of institutions participating in the program. It remains to be seen whether SmallSats will, in the long run, prove to be an effective platform for a range of astrophysics investigations. It will be important as it does with all elements of the program, it will be important for NASA to periodically review the proposal pressure and viability of SmallSat Explorer selections with the aim of achieving broad goals that include science 4 CubeSats are spacecraft sized in units (U), each having a volume of about 10 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm. 1U, 3U, 6U, and 12U are common CubeSat sizes. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-9

return, technology development and maturation, and broadening participation to advance diversity and inclusion. FIGURE 6.3 (left) NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) Explorer mission which provides nearly continuous, high-cadence, ultra-precise optical photometry (light curves) has ushered in the era of exoplanet science and time-domain astrophysics on a large scale. Launched in 2018, during its prime mission TESS surveyed some 400,000 bright stars across the entire sky, with a cadence of 2 minutes and a typical duration of 1 month. TESS has already identified more than 4,000 planet candidates (more than 100 confirmed) and is ultimately expected to find 10,000 or more. The TESS GO program has also led to time-domain discoveries and followup ranging from near- Earth objects such as comets, to eruptions from active galactic nuclei (AGN) (in concert with NASA’s Swift Explorer mission), to tidal disruption events caused by stars being disrupted by black holes. (right) TESS light curve of the K-dwarf star HD 21749, exhibiting transits by a sub-Neptune-size planet (2.6 R_earth) and an Earth-size planet (0.9 R_earth). SOURCE: Left: NASA TESS. Right: Adapted from D. Dragomir et al 2019, “TESS Delivers Its First Earth-sized Planet and a Warm Sub-Neptune,” The Astrophysical Journal Letters, 875 L7. © AAS. Reproduced with permission. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/ab12ed The highly scientifically successful Explorer program has challenges to overcome to address the lack of diversity in its scientific and technical teams. For the MIDEX and SMEX missions in particular, teams lack a healthy representation of career stage, gender, ethnicity, and institutional participation. Using the participation by women in mission leadership and science teams as one marker of diversity, one Astro2020 white paper finds that from 2008 – 2016 this participation was well below the representation of women in astronomy and astrophysics as a whole.5 This means that the Explorer program is failing to benefit from the entire available talent base, and the broadest range of the community is not fully engaged in the unique opportunities presented by the program. Effective leadership as PI for a SMEX or MIDEX scale mission requires significant experience and training. A first step to achieving a more diverse leadership pool is to broaden participation in technical, instrument, and leadership teams as a whole. However, especially for technical teams at small institutions, this is challenging due to structural barriers to entry. For instrumentalists and mission leaders (PIs, Project Scientists, and Instrument Leads), the complex, costly, and unique engineering and technical resources required to develop a mission proposal create significant barriers to entry. NASA, by design, does not compete the funding for mission concept or proposal development, leaving potential PIs to seek resources on their own. Teams with access to NASA or other specialized centers, and those with internal resources benefit overwhelmingly from this structure. While it is important not to limit potential proposers so as to have the largest range of concepts to choose from, provision of resources for mission 5 J. Centrella, M. New and M. Thompson, 2019, Leadership and Participation in NASA’s Explorer-Class Missions, white paper submitted to the Astro2020 decadal survey, https://arxiv.org/abs/1909.10314. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-10

concept development by NASA through a simple proposal process would significantly lower the barrier to entry. It is also important that experienced PIs establish team roles that enable emerging leaders to gain experience. NASA’s new Pioneers program (see below) is a potential stepping stone in this process. NASA’s PI Launchpad Workshop held in 2019 is another welcome step in efforts to expand the range of future PIs. Additional suggestions are presented in Appendix H, the report of the Panel on an Enabling Foundation for Research, and NASA is also sponsoring a National Academies’ study, “Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Leadership of Competed Space Science Missions.”6 Conclusion: The NASA sponsored NAS study “Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Leadership of Competed Space Science Missions” will provide important advice towards broadening participation, and by implementing this advice NASA will strengthen the Explorer Program’s overall success. 6.2.1.1.4 The Pioneers Program NASA began the Pioneers Program in 2020 as a means of bridging the gap between stand-alone Explorer missions and suborbital platforms. This program has overlap with the balloon, rocket, and Explorer MO programs, however it is distinct in providing up to $20 million of funding, greater than that available for traditional suborbital and SmallSat platforms. It is specifically designed to provide opportunities for early-to-mid-career researchers to lead space or suborbital science investigations for the first time. Although still in its early stages, Pioneers are an important exploration of a path for broadening the pool for tomorrow’s Explorer-class leaders while at the same time delivering important science. Three SmallSats and one balloon proposal, with goals ranging from measuring intergalactic UV emission to detecting ultra-high energy neutrinos, have been selected for further study from the inaugural announcement of opportunity. Encouraging the development of new leaders in space instrumentation and mission implementation is aligned with the Astro2020 objective to broaden participation in NASA’s Explorer program. 6.3.2 NSF’s Midscale Programs NSF’s competed midscale programs provide many of the essential elements advanced by NASA’s suborbital and Explorer programs. NSF has two programs that support mid-scale projects, which for the purposes of this survey we define to be activities in a cost range from ~$4 million to ~$100 million, occupying the cost range between ATI grants and Major Facilities. One of these two programs is MSIP, funded and managed by AST since 2014. The other is the agency-wide Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (MSRI) program founded in 2018 as part of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas and managed by a cross- disciplinary team of NSF Program Directors. These multiple routes for funding midscale projects— MSIP and MSRI—have different funding streams: MSIP falls within the NSF AST budget while MSRI is NSF-wide. While this increases the diversity of funding opportunities, the total amount of funding available for astronomy and astrophysics projects faces uncertainties due to the added NSF-wide competition for the latter program. The NWNH decadal survey recommended MSIP as its second highest priority for large programs on the ground. This competed program, based on NASA’s highly successful Explorer model, was intended by NWNH to enable projects of size between the Midscale Research Implementation (MRI) program and less than typical for an MREFC project, or between ~$4 million and $135 million in the NWNH recommendation. NWNH also recommended calls for MSIP projects be open, peer reviewed, and 6 https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/increasing-diversity-in-the-leadership-of-competed-space- missions PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-11

competed in two categories: conceptual design; and detailed design and construction. The total funding level for the program as envisioned by NWNH was ~$40 million a year (FY2010). NSF implemented the recommended program leading to exciting, high-impact projects with broad science reach and relevance to Astro2020 science. In its first three cycles, MSIP has competitively awarded a total of $114 million to 18 distinct projects spanning a diverse range of science and wavelength (Figure 6.4). These awards have supported new projects, such as the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array (HERA), designed to measure and characterize the universe from the cosmic dawn to the epoch of reionization, and the Deep Synoptic Array (DSA) that will pinpoint and study fast radio bursts.7 MSIP has also funded upgrades and new instrumentation on existing telescopes, such as the Keck Planet Finder precision radial velocity instrument, as well as community access to existing facilities such as the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) and the Las Cumbres time domain optical follow-up network. The program has therefore provided broad access across public-private partnerships, has included international collaborations, and has advanced both individual-investigator initiated programs, large survey projects, and archival research. However, MSIP has not approached the target total funding level set by NWNH, nor has it supported activities over the full range of cost scales, with most programs being at the lower end. To date, the selected awards have provided between $2 million and $12 million per project, significantly below the ~$100 million level envisioned by NWNH for at least some larger facilities. The last biannual solicitation provided a total of ~$21 million in funding, well below the $40 million a year target. The Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure (MSRI) program funds a range of activities including facilities, equipment, instrumentation, or computational hardware or software. Divided into two tiers (MSRI-1 and -2), the most recent MSRI-1 call in late 2020 funded design and construction in the $6 million to $20 million range, and MSRI-2 funded infrastructure (construction) projects in the $20 million to $100 million range, excluding operations and science. In astronomy and astrophysics NSF has funded the design and development of CMB-S4, and design of the next-generation Event Horizon Telescope, both in the MSRI-1 category, and no MSRI-2 projects, with <~14 percent of the total agency-wide funding going to astrophysics projects. With the most recent solicitation, going forward this program will allow proposals across almost the entire mid-scale range envisioned by NWNH, a very welcome development. However, the oversubscription rate is extremely high, and an uncertain fraction will support AST and astronomy-related projects in the NSF Division of Physics (PHY). It is also not clear what the criteria are for preliminary selections, which are made by a panel of NSF program officers. The survey received a large number of APC white papers for midscale projects that were evaluated by the OIR, PAG, and RMS program panels. Most of these were at the upper end ($50 million to $100 million) of the mid-scale range. While the survey did not request TRACE evaluations of any mid- scale concepts, the program panel studies were sufficient to determine that there is no shortage of compelling projects that could be accomplished with mid-scale funding. All three of the program panels that considered projects, as well as the Enabling Foundation panel that considered the program as a whole, strongly endorsed mid-scale projects, providing multiple superb examples of past accomplishments and compelling new mid-scale ideas. The panels all emphasize their high science value (H.2.10), cost effectiveness, and ability to enable agile approaches to addressing new science opportunities through the decade. Conclusion: Mid-scale programs across the entire range of scales (~$4 million to $100 million) are vital to the enabling foundation of astronomy research. 7 NSF, “Award Search,” accessed May 12, 2016, https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/advancedSearchResult?ProgEleCode=1257&BooleanElement=Any&BooleanRef =Any&ActiveAwards=true&#results. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-12

As evidenced by the number of compelling community white papers, and given the assessments of the PAG, OIR, RMS and EF panels, the survey committee recommends in Chapter 7 expanding the mid-scale programs, including adding elements that ensure its responsiveness to decadal survey priorities. Permission Pending PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-13

FIGURE 6.4 Hardware projects supported by the MSIP program between September 2014 and September 2021. Left to right, from the top: EHT, HERA, Keck Planet Finder, The Green Bank Telescope will use a laser scanning system to measure and adjust its surface precisely, CHARA Array’s beam combining tables, LLAMAS Integral Field Unit, Evryscope and ARGUS array prototype, DSA-10 radio array prototype, MAPS: MMT AO exoPlanet Characterization System, LMT, and Keck adaptive optics (AO) systems. SOURCE: (1) The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration. (2) HERA Partnership. (3) Keck Planet Finder, courtesy of California Institute of Technology. (4) Green Bank Observatory/Associated Universities, Inc. (5) Courtesy of Steve Golden/Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy. (6) Adapted from Gabor Furesz, et al., “Status update of LLAMAS: a wide field-of-view visible passband IFU for the 6.5m Magellan telescopes,” Proceedings of SPIE 11447, Ground-based and Airborne Instrumentation for Astronomy VIII, 114470A, 2020, doi:10.1117/12.2562803. (7) Courtesy of Nicholas Law and the Evryscope Collaboration. (8) DSA-10 radio array prototype. (9) Lori Harrison, Center for Astronomical Adaptive Optics, University of Arizona. (10) INAOE photo archive. (11) Courtesy of Sean Goebel Photography. (12) Adapted from L. Moncelsi et al., “Receiver development for BICEP Array, a next-generation CMB polarimeter at the South Pole,” Proceedings of the SPIE 11453, Millimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy X, 1145314, 2020, doi:10.1117/12.2561995. (13) Debra Kellner/Brian Bloss. (14) Courtesy of Yaqiong Li et al., “Assembly and integration process of the first high density detector array for the Atacama Cosmology Telescope,” Proceedings of the SPIE 9914, Millimeter, Submillimeter, and Far-Infrared Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy VIII, 991435, 2016, doi:10.1117/12.2233470. (15) The BICEP/Keck Collaboration, adapted from P.A.R. Ade et al., “BICEP2 II: Experiment and Three-Year Data Set,” 2014, Astrophysical Journal 792: 62, doi:10.1088/0004-637X/792/1/62, © AAS, reproduced with permission. PREPUBLICATION COPY – SUBJECT TO FURTHER EDITORIAL CORRECTION 6-14

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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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