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Decadal Update 5 - Revised Call for white papers

The following is the fifth Decadal Update email, sent to the AAS membership as a service to the National Academy of Sciences Astro2010 Decadal Survey Committee.

Below is the text of the March 3 "Chair's Bulletin" message from Roger Blandford, discussing some changes to the current call for white papers - soliciting input on technology development and theory, computation, and laboratory astrophysics.

It can also be viewed online at:

Marcos Huerta
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow


The Astro2010 Web Site:

Astro2010 Chair Bulletin #5

Tuesday March 3, 2009


The news on Astro2010 is that the Science Frontiers Panels have begun to meet and digest the over 320 Science White Papers as part of their consideration of their task. These papers are now available on the Astro2010 web site by pointing your browser at The Request for Information (RFI) from activities was posted on the web site and responses are due by April 1. In addition, the survey committee has reviewed the current call for white papers and position papers and decided that some adjustments and augmentations are required.

In my last bulletin, I discussed the three cross-cutting activities of computation, laboratory astrophysics, and theory and described three ways to make proposals. Since then there have been concerns raised with us that this arrangement may not capture all of the ideas in important cross-cutting areas -- for example proposals for specific key projects. In addition a number of questions have been raised about whether members of our community interested in technology development need to submit white papers and respond to the RFI. Accordingly, and in response, we have decided to amend the current call to the program subcommittee and program prioritization panels to clarify the call for technology development white papers and add in a call for white papers on theory, computation, and laboratory astrophysics.

As the revised call for white papers now explains, we invite broad community input in the following areas:

Technology Development: These white papers should describe how developing a specific technology in the upcoming decade will enable advances in astronomy in the future. If your idea involves proposing a large, focused initiative or center, then this is the sort of proposed activity we expect to respond to the current Program Subcommittee’s current Request for Information. The technology development white papers called for here will help the survey committee and the survey’s panels understand and communicate the appropriate balance between focused initiatives and general technology development. White papers will be of most use to the survey if they identify specific critical observations and opportunities to be addressed by the suggested technology development. A discussion of current state of the art in the suggested study area and how the new technology will depart from that state will be helpful as well as an indication of the level of effort required and the time scale for the realization of the new technology. An indication of intermediate outputs or milestones along the way to achieving the final technology goals should be included if relevant.

Theory, Computation, and Laboratory Astrophysics: These white papers should identify areas or research problems in theoretical, computational, or laboratory astrophysics that would benefit from targeted investments, including investments on scales larger than normally possible through existing grants programs. White papers should identify what resources are likely to be required and why the scientific areas identified are ripe for development. White papers that argue for broad support for theory, computation, or laboratory astrophysics should be submitted through the previously issued call for State of the Profession Position Papers. If your idea involves proposing a large, focused initiative or center with a well developed plan including costs, then you should instead respond to the current Program Subcommittee’s current Request for Information on activities.

The purpose of these calls, and others, is to provide input to the survey process from the research community. While our calls for white papers are targeted, our intent is not to exclude input from any part of our community on any topic relevant to the committee’s charge [see]. If your idea or proposal does not fall obviously into the scope of one of the white papers calls or the Request for Information, then email the survey at astro2010 at describing the kind of white paper you would like to submit and we will reply with a suggestion about where you should send that paper. We will ensure that all submissions will be reviewed by relevant committee or panel members.


Roger Blandford

Astro2010 Chair

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