NRC Releases Astro2010 Panel Reports

NRC Releases Astro2010 Panel Reports

The National Research Council (NRC) published the new Decadal Survey on astronomy and astrophysics (Astro2010) earlier this month. Now it has released the reports of the nine panels that fed into the steering committee’s deliberations. Five were science panels; four were programmatic. All the panel reports are combined into a single volume available from the National Academies Press.

The Science Frontier Panels were:

  • Cosmology and Fundamental Physics
  • Galactic Neighborhood
  • Galaxies Across Cosmic Time
  • Planetary Systems and Star Formation
  • Stars and Stellar Evolution

The Program Prioritization Panels were:

  • Electromagnetic Observations from Space
  • Optical and Infrared Astronomy from the Ground
  • Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation
  • Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Astronomy from the Ground

The steering committee was responsible for determining the priorities identified in the report and making other recommendations, but its deliberations were informed by the panels. The science panels identified the top scientific questions in astronomy and astrophysics driving research in the next 10 years. The program prioritization panels then had to rank the ground- or space-based missions that are needed to answer those questions within available budgets using independent estimates of cost and technical readiness. The panel reports thus provide the richness of detail that underpins the recommendations of the steering committee.

Kevin Marvel, executive director of the American Astronomical Society, wrote an op-ed for Space News that was published in today’s edition. He urges the astronomy and astrophysics community to support the Decadal Survey’s recommendations and not use them as a “gripe list to be mulled over.” He warns against “[b]ickering, in-fighting [and] the rule of self-interest” lest the report fail: “If this report fails, astronomy and astrophysics in this nation will fail as well.” [Editor’s Note: some Space News content is available only to subscribers; apologies if the link to the op-ed does not work.]

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