1
Introduction

The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), outlines a scientifically exciting and programmatically integrated plan for both ground- and space-based astronomy and astrophysics in the 2012-2021 decade.1 The survey involved hundreds of astronomers in nine panels and six study groups that reported to one overarching committee whose task was to integrate numerous specific scientific and technical goals into a resilient strategy for research over the decade. For the first time in a decadal survey, the panels and study groups evaluated technical and cost issues along with science. NWNH has achieved a new level of realism in advice provided by the National Research Council to the astronomical research agencies. However, the budgetary guidance that NASA provided to the decadal survey shifted downward considerably in the two years (fall 2008-August 2010) during which the survey operated. Since August 2010, when NWNH was released, projections of funds available for new NASA astrophysics initiatives have been reduced even further. The recently reported delay in the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2015 and the associated additional costs of at least $1.4 billion jeopardize implementation of the carefully designed program of activities proposed in NWNH.2

Before NWNH was released, NASA had been considering a commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid mission at a level of approximately 20 percent of its costs in its forthcoming FY 2012 budget request.3 According to NASA, participation in Euclid could provide the U.S. research community with access to dark energy science data, which is one component of the science program proposed for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)—NWNH’s top-ranked, large-scale, space-based mission. Euclid is proposed for launch in 2018, while NASA has reported that, under the current circumstances, WFIRST might launch no earlier than 2022.4 NWNH envisioned WFIRST to launch in 2020 following a 2013 start.

Given the apparent differences between the Euclid and WFIRST proposals, the Office of Science and Technology Policy requested that the NRC convene a panel and organize a workshop to consider whether NASA’s Euclid participation proposal is consistent with achieving the priorities, goals, and recommendations in NWNH and with pursuing the science strategy articulated in it. The panel also investigated what impact such participation might have on the prospects for the timely realization of the WFIRST mission and other activities recommended by NWNH in view of the projected budgetary situation.5

The panel convened its workshop on November 7, 2010, and heard presentations from NASA, DOE, NSF, ESA, OSTP, and members of the domestic and foreign astronomy and astrophysics communities (see Appendixes A and B). Workshop presentations identified several tradeoffs among options: less versus more likely to achieve funding goals in a time of restricted budgets; narrower versus broader scientific goals; and United States-only versus U.S.-ESA collaboration.

______________

1 National Research Council, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics [prepublication], The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010.

2 J. Casani et al., James Webb Space Telescope Independent Comprehensive Review Panel: Final Report, October 29, 2010 (publicly released on November 10, 2010).

3 Based on input received from ESA at the panel’s November 7, 2010, meeting. The panel assumed that the ~20 percent share in question would equal approximately $170 million to $200 million.

4 Based on input received from ESA and NASA at the panel’s November 7, 2010, meeting.

5 The panel’s statement of task is given in this report’s preface.



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1 Introduction The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (NWNH), outlines a scientifically exciting and programmatically integrated plan for both ground- and space-based astronomy and astrophysics in the 2012-2021 decade.1 The survey involved hundreds of astronomers in nine panels and six study groups that reported to one overarching committee whose task was to integrate numerous specific scientific and technical goals into a resilient strategy for research over the decade. For the first time in a decadal survey, the panels and study groups evaluated technical and cost issues along with science. NWNH has achieved a new level of realism in advice provided by the National Research Council to the astronomical research agencies. However, the budgetary guidance that NASA provided to the decadal survey shifted downward considerably in the two years (fall 2008-August 2010) during which the survey operated. Since August 2010, when NWNH was released, projections of funds available for new NASA astrophysics initiatives have been reduced even further. The recently reported delay in the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2015 and the associated additional costs of at least $1.4 billion jeopardize implementation of the carefully designed program of activities proposed in NWNH.2 Before NWNH was released, NASA had been considering a commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid mission at a level of approximately 20 percent of its costs in its forthcoming FY 2012 budget request. 3 According to NASA, participation in Euclid could provide the U.S. research community with access to dark energy science data, which is one component of the science program proposed for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST)—NWNH’s top-ranked, large-scale, space-based mission. Euclid is proposed for launch in 2018, while NASA has reported that, under the current circumstances, WFIRST might launch no earlier than 2022.4 NWNH envisioned WFIRST to launch in 2020 following a 2013 start. Given the apparent differences between the Euclid and WFIRST proposals, the Office of Science and Technology Policy requested that the NRC convene a panel and organize a workshop to consider whether NASA’s Euclid participation proposal is consistent with achieving the priorities, goals, and recommendations in NWNH and with pursuing the science strategy articulated in it. The panel also investigated what impact such participation might have on the prospects for the timely realization of the WFIRST mission and other activities recommended by NWNH in view of the projected budgetary situation.5 The panel convened its workshop on November 7, 2010, and heard presentations from NASA, DOE, NSF, ESA, OSTP, and members of the domestic and foreign astronomy and astrophysics communities (see Appendixes A and B). Workshop presentations identified several tradeoffs among options: less versus more likely to achieve funding goals in a time of restricted budgets; narrower versus broader scientific goals; and United States-only versus U.S.-ESA collaboration. 1 National Research Council, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics [prepublication], The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010. 2 J. Casani et al., James Webb Space Telescope Independent Comprehensive Review Panel: Final Report, October 29, 2010 (publicly released on November 10, 2010). 3 Based on input received from ESA at the panel’s November 7, 2010, meeting. The panel assumed that the ~20 percent share in question would equal approximately $170 million to $200 million. 4 Based on input received from ESA and NASA at the panel’s November 7, 2010, meeting. 5 The panel’s statement of task is given in this report’s preface. 3