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Frequently Asked Questions

Astrophysics Roadmap Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

New questions can be addressed on 'Ask the Roadmap Team a Question' page.

Q0. Why is a NASA Astrophysics Roadmap being done now?

A0. The 2010 Decadal Survey describes the science opportunities that face us now, and it provides specific recommendations to prioritize near-term programs over the current decade. The Roadmap takes a long-range view that highlights the science possibilities over the next 30 years and provides the inspiration and rationale for continuing American leadership and investment in NASA's astrophysics programs. In an era of downward pressure on discretionary Federal spending, it is necessary to articulate for the public and our stakeholders the astounding science to be done after the era of the James Webb Space Telescope. The Roadmap builds upon the 2010 Decadal Survey and provides long range "science pull" for the Nation's space astrophysics investments.

Q1: Who is the intended audience for this science vision document?

A1:  The primary intended audience are the NASA stakeholders, the decision-makers who set the nation's scientific and technological priorities. At the same time we hope that the scientific community and the general public will draw inspiration from this science Vision.

Q2. What will this Roadmap be like?

A2. This Roadmap will provide a long-range 30 year science vision. It will be science based, and describe science and technology challenges with way stations at 10 and 20 years towards achieving the full 30 year vision.  It is not intended to describe specific missions or implementation plans.

Q3.  Are the Roadmap team meetings open to the community?

A3.  No.  The Roadmap Team is a task force of the APS and not a FACA committee, and its meetings are closed. 

Q4.  How can I find out about progress of the Roadmap Team?

A4.  The Roadmap Team will make periodic reports to the APS in their public meetings.  The presentations from these reports, and the discussions in the Subcommittee minutes, will be posted on the APS webpage.

Q5. Will the Roadmap incorporate missions?

A5. This Roadmap will be science based, and will include only notional missions in support of the science pathways.

Q6. What is a notional mission? 

A6. For the purposes of the Roadmap, a notional mission is an example of a generic concept of mission or collection of measurements that makes progress along one or more paths of the Roadmap toward the vision.

Q7. Why is the Roadmap team inviting contributions from the community?

A7.  The Team recognizes the importance of including the broader community, and welcomes ideas for science and technology challenges.

Q8. How will these contributions be used in the work of the Roadmap Team?

A8. The team will study and discuss the ideas and implement some of them in the Roadmap; in the latter case, the team will work with the corresponding authors prior to implementation. It is encouraged and expected that the submitting teams will proceed with any planned publication of their work.

Q9.  What kinds of community inputs is the Roadmap Team inviting?

A9. The Team is inviting 2 distinct types of inputs: ideas about scientific challenges and ideas about technology challenges.  It is desirable that these items are separate to avoid the appearance of mission concepts.

Q10.  It is hard to think 30 years in the future.  Any advice on how to do this?

A10.  A useful way to build a 30 year vision starts by breaking the task into steps.  First, think about astrophysics today, and project out 10 years to envision the field and the key science questions in 2023; this establishes a way station at 10 years out.   Next, using this way station as your starting point, extrapolate out an additional decade to envision the state of the field in 2033, establishing a way station at 20 years out.  From there, you take a leap of 10 more years into the future to reach the full 30 year vision.