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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Physics and Astronomy
Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

Implementing Recommendations from New Worlds New Horizons Decadal Survey



Panel on Implementing Recommendations from New Worlds New Horizons Decadal Survey

Release in 2011

The 2010 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. However, late in the survey process, the budgetary outlook shifted downward considerably from the guidance that NASA had provided to the decadal survey. And since August 2010--when NWNH was released--the projections of funds available for new NASA Astrophysics initiatives has decreased even further because of 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. These developments jeopardize the implementation of the carefully designed program of activities proposed in NWNH. In response to these circumstances, NASA has proposed that the United States consider a commitment to the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid mission at a level of approximately 20 percent. This participation would be undertaken in addition to initiating the planning for the survey's highest-ranked, space-based, large-scale mission, the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requested that the National Research Council (NRC) convene a panel to consider whether NASA's Euclid proposal is consistent with achieving the priorities, goals, and recommendations, and with pursuing the science strategy, articulated in NWNH. 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. The panel convened a workshop on November 7, 2010. The workshop presentations identified several tradeoffs among options: funding goals less likely versus more likely to be achieved in a time of restricted budgets; narrower versus broader scientific goals; and U.S.-only versus U.S.-ESA collaboration. The panel captured these tradeoffs in considering four primary options: Option A: Launch of WFIRST in the Decade 2012-2021; Option B: A Joint WFIRST/Euclid Mission; Option C: Commitment by NASA of 20 percent Investment in Euclid prior to the M-class decision; or Option D: No U.S. Financing of an Infrared Survey Mission This Decade.

Committee Members and NRC Staff

Adam S. Burrows - (Co-Chair), Princeton University
Charles F. Kennel - (Co-Chair), University of California, San Diego
Alan Dressler, Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science
Debra M. Elmegreen, Vassar College
Fiona A. Harrison, California Institute of Technology
Lynne Hillenbrand, California Institute of Technology
Steven M. Ritz, SCIPP, University of California, Santa Cruz
A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation [Retired]

Donald Shapero, BPA Director
Michael Moloney, SSB Director
David Lang, Program Officer, BPA
Caryn Knutsen, Associate Program Officer, BPA
Teri Thorowgood, Administrative Coordinator, BPA


The project is pleased to acknowledge support from NASA, NSF, and DOE.