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Session 93 - Space Astronomy in the Next Millennium.
Oral session, Wednesday, January 17
1st Floor, La Villita Assembly Building

[93.02] Recommendations of the AURA ``HST and Beyond'' Committee

A. Dressler (OCIW)

In late 1993, the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) appointed the ``HST and Beyond'' Committee, with support from NASA, to consider possible major space missions for UV/visual/IR astronomy for the first decades of the 21st Century. An additional goal of this committee was to initiate a process to produce a consensus within the astronomical community on the future scientific direction for space astronomy. Eighteen individuals were chosen from North America and the UK, representing a broad range of observational and theoretical interests, as well as extensive experience with current space missions.

The committee concludes that an ambitious pair of themes of ``cosmic origins'' and ``the quest for the exotic'' justifies a new generation of UV/visual/IR space facilities to follow the Great Observatories: the birth and early evolution of normal galaxies, star and planetary formation, the origin of life, the fate of the Universe, and new astrophysical phenomena.

To further this goal, the ``HST and Beyond'' Committee recommends three programs:

[1] Cost-effective continuation of the Hubble Space Telescope beyond its planned termination date of 2005, to provide the astronomical community with a powerful, general-purpose UV/visual platform for spectroscopy and wide-field imaging.

[2] Development of a space observatory of aperture 4 m or greater, optimized for IR/visual spectroscopy and wide-field imaging, which would complement the capabilities of HST with a general-purpose facility at longer wavelengths.

[3] Development of the capability for space interferometry, in particular for visual astrometric observations with an accuracy of at least 10 \muarcseconds and (2) for mid-IR spatial interferometry, specifically for the identification and study of Earth-like planets around neighboring stars.

Program listing for Wednesday