Physics and Astronomy
|Nuclear PhysicsExploring the Heart of Matter
The principal goals of the study were to articulate the scientific rationale and objectives of the field and then to take a long-term strategic view of U.S. nuclear science in the global context for setting future directions for the field. Nuclear Physics: Exploring the Heart of Matter provides a long-term assessment of an outlook for nuclear physics.
The first phase of the report articulates the scientific rationale and objectives of the field, while the second phase provides a global context for the field and its long-term priorities and proposes a framework for progress through 2020 and beyond. In the second phase of the study, also developing a framework for progress through 2020 and beyond, the committee carefully considered the balance between universities and government facilities in terms of research and workforce development and the role of international collaborations in leveraging future investments.
Nuclear physics today is a diverse field, encompassing research that spans dimensions from a tiny fraction of the volume of the individual particles (neutrons and protons) in the atomic nucleus to the enormous scales of astrophysical objects in the cosmos. Nuclear Physics: Exploring the Heart of Matter explains the research objectives, which include the desire not only to better understand the nature of matter interacting at the nuclear level, but also to describe the state of the universe that existed at the big bang. This report explains how the universe can now be studied in the most advanced colliding-beam accelerators, where strong forces are the dominant interactions, as well as the nature of neutrinos.
|Interim Report—Status of the Study "An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy"
The scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion has been substantial during the past decade. However, many of the technologies needed for an integrated inertial fusion energy system are still at an early stage of technological maturity. For all approaches to inertial fusion energy there remain critical scientific and engineering challenges.
In this interim report of the study An Assessment of the Prospects for Inertial Fusion Energy, the Committee on the Prospects for Inertial Confinement Fusion Energy Systems outlines their preliminary conclusions and recommendations of the feasibility of inertial fusion energy. The committee also describes its anticipated next steps as it prepares its final report.
|Assessment of a Plan for U.S. Participation in Euclid
NASA proposed to make a hardware contribution to the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Euclid mission in exchange for U.S. membership on the Euclid Science Team and science data access. The Euclid mission will employ a space telescope that will make potentially important contributions to probing dark energy and to the measurement of cosmological parameters. Euclid will image a large fraction of the extragalactic sky at unprecedented resolution and measure spectra for millions of galaxies.
Assessment of a Plan for U.S. Participation in Euclid evaluates whether a small investment in Euclid (around $20 million in hardware) is a viable part of an overall strategy to pursue the science goals set forth in New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, a decadal plan for ground- and space- based astronomy and astrophysics. The top-ranked large-scale, space-based priority of the New Worlds, New Horizons is the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST). WFIRST has a broad, wide-field, near-infrared capability that will serve a wide variety of science programs of U.S. astronomers, including exoplanet research, near-infrared sky surveys, a guest observer program, and dark energy research. In carrying out this study the authoring committee's intent has been to be clear that this report does not alter New Worlds, New Horizon's plans for the implementation of the survey's priorities.
Assessment of a Plan for U.S. Participation in Euclid concludes that the NASA proposal would represent a valuable first step toward meeting one of the science goals (furthering dark energy research) of WFIRST. While WFIRST dark energy measurements are expected to be superior to Euclid's, U.S. participation in Euclid will have clear scientific, technical, and programmatic benefits to the U.S. community as WFIRST and Euclid go forward. According to this report, the current NASA proposal, to invest modestly in Euclid, is consistent with an expeditious development of WFIRST and the achievement of the broader, and more ambitious, goals outlined in New Worlds, New Horizons. Knowledge gained from the Euclid project could help optimize the science return of the WFIRST mission as well. Such an investment will further the goals of New Worlds, New Horizons, be helpful to the preparations for WFIRST, and enhance WFIRST's chances of success.