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STScI Participation in Astro2020

J. Tumlinson (tumlinson[at]stsci.edu)

Panel participation: As of this writing, there are three STScI scientists on the Astro2020 science panels: Dr. Lou Strolger serves on the panel for Stars, the Sun, and Stellar Populations; Dr. Susan Kassin serves on the Galaxies panel; and Dr. Christopher Stark serves on the Exoplanets, Astrobiology, and the Solar System panel. Topping off all this is Dr. Rachel Osten’s service as executive secretary to the main Steering Committee, a key leadership role for the whole survey. As of this writing, some panels have yet to be announced, so there may well be additional STScI participation to come.

Community Input: Altogether there were 573 science white papers submitted to the open call in March 2019. STScI staff were lead authors on 20 of these science white papers, and co-authors on another 123, meaning that 25% of all science inputs had STScI participation or leadership. Overall, 76 STScI research staff members (out of 137 at the time) were authors on at least one, for a 55% participation rate. Here is a sampling of white papers first-authored by STScI scientists:

Christine Chen: "Debris Disk Composition: A Diagnostic Tool for Planet Formation and Migration"       

Christopher Clark: "Unleashing the Potential of Dust Emission as a Window onto Galaxy Evolution"

Andrew Fox: "The Magellanic Stream as a Probe of Astrophysics"

Lea Hagen: "Spatially Resolved Observations of the Ultraviolet Attenuation Curve"

Bethan James: "Spatially Resolved UV Nebular Diagnostics in Star-Forming Galaxies"

Anton Koekemoer: "Ultra Deep Field Science with WFIRST"

Margaret Meixner: "Infrared Stellar Populations: Probing the Beginning and the End"

Molly Peeples: "Understanding the Circumgalactic Medium is Critical for Understanding Galaxy Evolution"

Christopher Stark: "Optimal Architectures and Survey Designs for Maximizing the Yields of Direct-Imaging Exoplanet Missions"

The scientific breadth of this short list reflects the diverse scientific interests of our staff, from the cosmic Dark Ages to the nearest exoplanets.

There were 311 "Activities, Projects, and State of the Profession Considerations" (APC) white papers (WPs) submitted, with 54 having STScI co-authors. STScI staff were first authors on 15 of these white papers, and 50 of our staff participated in one or more.

Highlists of the first-authored WPs include:

Alessandra Aloisi: "(Un)conscious Bias in the Astronomical Profession: Universal  Recommendations to Improve Fairness, Inclusiveness, and Representation"

De Rosa: "Increasing Gender Diversity and Inclusion in Scientific Committees and Related Activities at STScI"

Nancy Levenson: "Scientific Advancement through Flagship Space Missions"

Laurent Pueyo: "Wavefront Sensing and Control Technologies for Exo-Earth Imaging"

Arfon Smith: "Astronomy Should Be in the Clouds"

Lou Strolger: "Adopting Dual-Anonymous Practices in the Reviews for Resource   Allocation in Astronomy"

Erik Tollerud: "Sustaining Community-Driven Software for Astronomy in the 2020s"

Jason Tumlinson: "The Next Great Observatories: How Can We Get There?"

We note that all this activity is considered part of staff scientists' self-directed research time, indicating that our scientists are motivated to help establish a vision for the future of astronomy.

Flagship Mission Studies: Over the last three years, NASA has sponsored four major studies of possible flagship missions for the 2030s and beyond. These "Science and Technology Definition Teams" (STDTs) have produced detailed science cases, observatory and instrument designs, and technology development plans. Each one of them has specified missions in more detail than any previous decadal has evaluated, making this decadal the best informed in history in terms of major mission decision-making.

STScI participation in these studies has been substantial:

HabEx: Chris Stark

LUVOIR: Marc Postman, Laurent Pueyo, Chris Stark, Jason Tumlinson

Lynx: Rachel Osten

Origins: Margaret Meixner (co-chair), Klaus Pontoppidan, Kevin Stevenson

All four studies have now released their reports, which are available at the website www.greatobservatories.org, and are planning their presentations to the decadal program panels.

The Astro2020 website has links to the articles and other information about the study.