Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Space Studies Board
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
About the SSB
Board Members & Meetings
News & Events
Standing Committees
Decadal Surveys
Current Projects
Completed Projects
Reports By Year
Quarterly Newsletter
Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships

Contact Us

Space Studies Board
500 Fifth Street NW
Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 334-3477
Fax: (202) 334-3701

Bookmark and Share 

  Follow us on Twitter 

Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey

astro2020 banner



Please find the Statement of Task for the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020), agreed to by the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, NSF, and DOE.  The Statement of Task is the governing document for the Astro2020 Decadal Study. You can also find a link to additional information about the scope of the study here.  The Chair will be announced in December.


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.


Highlighted Activities


 stacked papers w black borderWhite Paper Submissions
 2018 early carer astronomer thumbnailEarly Career Astronomer and Astrophysicist Focus Session

 Project Information

If anyone from the research community has comments or questions related to the study, you may send a message to

About the Survey

The astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey is a large and influential study run jointly between the Board of Physics and Astronomy and the Space Studies Board of the National Academies. The institutional goal of a decadal survey is to consider the past and current research of the field and provide consensus recommendations for the direction of the field over the next decade. These recommendations are made by a survey committee who are directed by the statement of task and informed by community input. Since the first decadal survey in 1964, the decadal survey committee has been charged with surveying the field of astronomy and astrophysics and determining and prioritizing the most important scientific and technological activities for the next decade. The impact of this survey is widespread as it is a useful resource for agencies supporting the field of astronomy and astrophysics, the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over those agencies, the scientific community, and the public. Six surveys  have been executed and the community, federal agencies, and National Academies are preparing for the next decadal survey: Astro2020.

-- 2018 January AAS Town Hall
– 2018 March Astro 2020 proposal submitted to Agencies
– Summer/Fall: Science White Paper call issued
– 2018 ≤ December Chair selected
– 2019 January AAS Town Hall and other community outreach activities
It will take ~2 years to complete the survey process and release the report.

Statement of Task
The Statement of Task is posted above.

The survey's structure will be determined by the Survey Committee after it is appointed.

Committee Members
Members of the survey committee will be appointed after funding from the sponsors is received. The appointment of the membership of the subpanels will occur after that.

All Meetings and Outreach Events



Community Input

Community input is essential to the decadal survey process. The call for science white papers has been issued and instructions for preparing and submitting the white papers are below. The window for submission of science white papers will be between 12:01am Eastern, Monday, 7 January 2019 and 05:00pm Eastern Monday, 19 February 2019.

View Science White Paper Instructions

Science White Paper Submission Form
The submission form will be opened and submissions will be accepted time frame shown above.

Submitted Science White Papers (will be posted beginning 1/7/19)


Q. The current call is for science white papers only. What about other white papers, e.g., about specific missions, projects, activities, and the state of the profession?

A. It will be the role of the Survey committee to define those additional inputs. The CAA is helping to lay the groundwork for the Survey, which is why the current call is for science white papers only. As written in that call for science white papers, “...we anticipate that there will be one or more additional call(s) for white papers on other essential topics, such as issues relating to the state of the profession and to missions, projects, and technology development, once the survey begins."

Further information, including the open submission form and FAQ, will be posted here as available. Additional community input will be solicited and accepted via additional calls for white papers, presentations to the survey committee and subpanels, public comments, and more.

Please send questions to

Return to Top


Publications and Dissemination

 Once products of the survey become available they will be placed here.

Past Decadals


2010_New Worlds New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics


New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

2010_panel reports--new_worlds_new_horizons


Panel Reports--New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics



2020 Vision: An Overview of New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics

New Worlds, New Horizons
A Midterm Assessment

Lessons Learned in Decadal Planning in Space Science

Report of the Panel on Implementing Recommendations from the New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey
Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium
Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium: Panel Reports
Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium An Overview

The Decade of Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Challenges to Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 1980's, Volume 2 

Challenges to Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 1980's, Volume 1
Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 1970's Volume 2: Reports of the Panels
Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 1970s Volume 1: Report of the Astronomy Survey Committee
Ground-Based Astronomy: A Ten Year Program



Return to Top