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Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium: Panel Reports
Advances in technology in this decade are a prerequisite for many of the initiatives recommended in this report as well as for initiatives in the next decade. For the recommended space-based initiatives, technology investment as specified in the existing NASA technology road map is an assumed prerequisite for the cost estimates given in Table ES.1. It is essential to maintain funding for these initiatives if NASA is to keep these missions on schedule and within budget. The committee endorses NASA’s policy of completing a mission’s technological development before starting the mission. The committee similarly endorses such a policy as the NSF is applying it to the design and development of ALMA.
For possible ground-based initiatives in the decade 2010 to 2020, investment is required in very large, high-speed digital correlators; in infrared interferometry; and in specialized dark-matter detectors. Future space-based initiatives require investment in spacecraft communication and x-ray interferometry, as well as technology for the next-generation observatories. Such technology will include energy-resolving array detectors for optical, ultraviolet, and x-ray wavelengths; far-infrared array detectors; refrigerators; large, lightweight optics; and gamma-ray detectors.
ASTRONOMY’S ROLE IN EDUCATION
Because of its broad public appeal, astronomy has a unique role to play in education and public outreach. The committee recommends that the following steps be taken to exploit the potential of astronomy for enhancing education and public understanding of science:
Expand and improve the opportunities for astronomers to engage in outreach to the K-12 community.
Establish more pilot partnerships between departments of astronomy and education at a few universities to develop exemplary science courses for preservice teachers.
Improve communication, planning, and coordination among federal programs that fund educational initiatives in astronomy.
Increase investment toward improving public understanding of the achievements of all NSF-funded science and facilities, especially in the area of astronomy.