[ASA] Announcement: the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Program

Sarah Brough s.brough at unsw.edu.au
Tue May 22 09:46:11 AEST 2018

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: *David Silva dsilva at noao.edu <mailto:dsilva at noao.edu>* 
<currents-list at email.noao.edu <mailto:currents-list at email.noao.edu>>
Date: Mon, May 21, 2018 at 10:02 AM
Subject: Announcement: the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Program
To: currents-list



    21 May 2018

    U.S. national observatory and two extremely large telescope projects
    team up to enhance U.S. scientific leadership in astronomy and

A new research frontier in astronomy and astrophysics will open in the 
mid-2020s with the advent of ground-based extremely large 
optical-infrared telescopes (ELTs) with primary mirrors in the 20-m – 
40-m range. U.S. scientific leadership in astronomy and astrophysics 
will be significantly enhanced if the broad U.S. community can take 
advantage of the power of these new ELTs.

In that context, the National Science Foundation’s <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/mjCzC2xZYvCAv3QoF1gKU9?domain=nsf.gov> 
(NSF) National Optical Astronomy Observatory <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/vJxtC3Q8Z2FVwKvYC2mPgm?domain=noao.edu> 
(NOAO), the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization <https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/dyepC4QZ1RFGy5xAuW3tKl?domain=gmto.org> 
(GMTO), and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory 
<https://protect-au.mimecast.com/s/10DBC5QZ29FOo91YhxjKNj?domain=tmt.org> (TIO) have embarked on the development of a *U.S. 
Extremely Large Telescope (US-ELT) Program*.

Our shared mission is to strengthen scientific leadership by the U.S. 
community-at-large through access to extremely large telescopes in the 
Northern and Southern Hemispheres. This two-hemisphere model will 
provide the U.S. science community with greater and more diverse 
research opportunities than can be achieved with a single telescope, and 
hence more opportunities for leadership.

Our immediate task is advocacy for frontier research programs led by U.S 
community scientists that can achieve exceptional advancements in 
humanity’s understanding of the cosmos.

Our audience is the U.S. research community as represented by the 
upcoming Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics (an enterprise of 
the U.S. National Academies).

As an essential part of that immediate task, we will work with the U.S. 
research community to develop exemplar Key Science Programs (KSPs) 
within major research areas including the dark universe, first stars & 
first galaxies, exoplanet atmospheres, the surfaces of satellites and 
other small bodies throughout Solar System, and/or other topics to be 
proposed and prioritized by community-based working groups.

Key Science Programs are envisioned to be open collaborations that 
gather observers, theorists, and data scientists together to exploit 
significant investments of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) and Giant 
Magellan Telescope (GMT) observing time, from tens to hundreds of 
nights. Some of these collaborations are expected to be international in 
nature. If well-justified by KSP plans, we envisage that at least 25% of 
the observing time at each international observatory will be available 
for the U.S. community.

The KSPs chosen for presentation to the Decadal Survey will not be the 
final programs. Astronomy and astrophysics will continue to evolve 
rapidly during construction of GMT and TMT, thanks to previous 
investments in ground– and space-based observatories, such as the NASA 
Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), the NASA James Webb Space 
Telescope (JWST), and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Actual 
KSPs will be selected by peer-review before the start of GMT and TMT 
science operations.

NOAO, TIO, and GMTO are committed to enabling diversity within KSP 
collaborations. We seek to empower the best minds, no matter their 
gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or institutional affiliation.

More information about the U.S. ELT Program and how community scientists 
can join KSP development groups will be available after mid-June 2018.

*Issued by the National Science Foundation’s National Optical Astronomy 
Observatory (NOAO), with concurrence of the Thirty Meter Telescope 
International Observatory (TIO) and Giant Magellan Telescope 
Organization (GMTO)*

*CONTACT:* Dr. David Silva, Director, NOAO, dsilva at noao.edu 
<mailto:dsilva at noao.edu>

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