WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- In a statement released today, the
American Astronomical Society, the largest professional scientific association
for astronomers and astrophysicists, has endorsed the Hubble Space Telescope -
James Webb Space Telescope Transition Panel Report.
The President of the American Astronomical Society, Dr. Catherine A.
Pilachowski of Indiana University said, "Astronomy will clearly benefit if
NASA and the community work together for a productive transition between
Hubble and the JWST. The Committee's prioritization of options for this
transition gives a clear sense of the community's scientific goals."
Dr. Sidney Wolff, the chair of the Society's committee on Astronomy and
Astrophysics and former director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory
agreed, saying "HST has had an immense impact on both astrophysical research
and public understanding of astronomy. This report provides clearly
prioritized options that will serve as an effective guide for the detailed
planning required to optimize the total scientific return as we make the
transition from the era of HST to observations with the even more powerful
The Panel report, released August 14, 2003, is available in PDF format
from the NASA web pages at http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/49151main_hst-jwst.pdf .
The decadal surveys mentioned in the AAS statement below are available
from the National Research Council.
The AAS statement, adopted today, is given below in its entirety.
American Astronomical Society Endorsement of the Hubble Space Telescope -
James Webb Space Telescope Transition Panel Report
The American Astronomical Society strongly endorses the HST-JWST
Transition Panel report and its list of prioritized options for the future of
the HST. The AAS believes that this report summarizes clearly the strategies
that would optimize the total science return from these space telescopes while
taking into account the inevitable uncertainty about future Hubble servicing
Given that extensive planning and substantial lead time will be required
to implement any of the options for future operation of HST, we urge NASA to
give prompt and thoughtful consideration to the report. Information about the
differential costs of the scientific activities (beyond normal operations
costs) associated with each of the three options would help to inform the
The Transition Panel's preferred option was two additional Shuttle
servicing missions. The AAS supports the recommendation that the extended HST
science program resulting from SM5 occur only if the HST science is successful
in a peer-reviewed competition. We believe:
1) that such competition should be with like-sized proposals for new
missions -- as the report stated -- that fall within the same science
categories and that this process should be informed by and consonant with the
priorities of the three recent decadal surveys for astrophysics, solar
physics, and planetary science; and
2) that the scientific community should be consulted during the
formulation of any Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for any extended mission;
3) that the AO for any extended mission should allow a broad range of
options, possibly including new instruments or new modes of observation, such
as focused surveys, that could require a limited suite of capabilities and
could be carried out at lower operational cost; and
4) that if extended HST mission proposals compete for funds from existing
NASA mission lines then each proposal should compete as a normal proposal
adhering to the selection principles within that line.
The Society notes in closing that the most important link in the chain of
continued scientific excellence from HST is the now delayed Servicing Mission
5) the Society strongly urges that whatever support is needed for this
servicing mission be found, consistent with the need for safety and the
recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.
SOURCE American Astronomical Society