Draft Terms of Reference
Astronomy and astrophysics play a significant role in our society, informing us about the nature of the Universe and our place within it. The development and funding of astronomical research in the 21 st century is both a collaborative and competitive process. By identifying scientific, and hence funding, priorities in the 1999 Long Range Plan (hereafter ~LRP~) the Canadian astronomical community has successfully facilitated the creation of the current generation of world class astronomical research and facilities. However, in the ten years since the previous plan, unanticipated avenues of research have opened up and a new generation of facilities are on the drawing board. These new developments need to be assessed and incorporated into an updated long range plan, LRP2010, that looks forward to the 2020 time frame.
The development of LRP2010 will be a collaborative process initiated by the Canadian Astronomical Society/Société canadienne d'astronomie (CASCA) with the support of all Canadian national agencies and organisations that fund or administer astronomical research. As with the original LRP, the initial review of the field and subsequent formulation of the LRP2010, will be undertaken by a primary Author Panel (hereafter ~the panel~), led by a single Chairperson. Primary input is expected to come from the astronomical community through a series of subcommittees and open meetings.
The scope, structure, committee/panel membership, and community input processes for LRP2010 are described within this document.
The panel will review the field of space and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics. Both current and future scientific goals and the various needs of the different Canadian communities in astronomy and astrophysics will be considered. From this review the author panel will then produce a list of recommended priorities for the next decade, to be outlined within LRP2010. These priorities will only include those considered to be essential to the success of the Canadian astronomical community. The resulting plan will serve as a single unified vision for highest priority projects in astronomy in Canada over the coming decade.
Formulation of LRP2010 is in outline a two-step process, namely a review followed by a prioritization exercise. It is anticipated that LRP2010 will address the following issues:
1) Assessment of the state of astronomy and astrophysics in Canada in the context of available astronomical facilities and the direct support of ongoing research programs The review will consider all aspects of astronomy and astrophysics. Experimental and theoretical aspects of the field will be considered in tandem, with the consideration of the infrastructure that enables new discoveries being the primary task of the review. This review process will necessarily be in the context of the original LRP and will address both the successes and failures of the previous planning process.
2) Assessment of secondary infrastructure, including demographic issues, that are critical to the success of the Canadian astronomical community. While the primary evaluation task of LRP2010 is anticipated to encompass astronomical facilities, secondary infrastructure must also be considered. This includes, but is not limited to, facilities relevant to laboratory astrophysics, instrument design and development, storage and access of astronomical data, computer infrastructure used in the analysis and modelling of astronomical phenomena, and, importantly, the education and training of personnel. The success of our field is also dependent on ensuring equal access and representation. A review of the current demographics within the field will inform whether desired goals are being met. Considerations of these various aspects of the subject will then inform decisions on whether the appropriate infrastructure exists or needs to be developed to support future priorities.
3) Assess the state of our profession and its ability to take advantage of new opportunities. Set against the fundamental goal of maximizing future scientific advances, the review of our profession will directly inform the most beneficial and economic paths forward.
4) Identification of potential new research directions or areas of opportunity and the types of facilities and support that are needed to pursue them. This assessment will be science driven (first) and program driven (second) rather than facility oriented. This review is anticipated to primarily fill any gaps that have opened in the coverage of the original LRP. The possibilities for new facilities will be assessed separately.
5) Assessment of proposed new National and International facilities or programs, including space missions, and their relevance to the Canadian astronomical community New facilities are on the drawing-board that were unanticipated in either the original LRP or the mid-term review (MTR). Updating the LRP requires that we review these facilities/missions and assess their potential impact and possible benefits to the Canadian astronomical community. Understanding the possibilities for Canadian participation in major new international projects is anticipated to be a key component of this assessment. Given that Canadian researchers are also increasingly collaborating with international partners and many future facilities are likely to be built by international consortia, whether any distinction is drawn between National and International opportunities is at the discretion of the panel.
6) Formulate a prioritized list of facilities and programs that are essential to the success of the Canadian astronomical community. Building upon the previous assessments, the list of priorities will only include those considered essential to the success of the community. This will unavoidably entail comparative and qualitative assessments as during the review process different sub-disciplines or facilities will be compared with one another. The panel may also choose to make recommendations for reorganization of research programs if current structures are deemed inappropriate for future endeavours. The decision on priorities will lie solely in the hands of the panel and is ultimately the most important aspect of LRP2010, setting the foundation for the highest priority projects in Canada over the coming decade.
7) Make budgetary recommendations for said facilities and programs and, where possible, suggest solutions to current funding challenges
The review will also take into account that funding within the Canadian community comes from multiple agencies and ranges in size from small individual grants to large community driven projects. The suggested funding strategy will incorporate some measure of the relative risk associated with a given facility or program. In cases where funding is considered to be difficult, for whatever reason including such issues as inter-agency cooperation, the panel will make suggestions for possible resolutions. The final outcome of the review process is the production of an updated Long Range Plan for astronomy and astrophysics in Canada for the next decade. LRP2010 will be formulated in priority order within different categories to be decided upon by the author panel.
Projects that were approved by the original LRP and MTR that are partly funded or underway need not be reassessed in detail. However, the impact of these facilities or programs and their relevance to astronomy and astrophysics out to 2020 must be incorporated within LRP2010. Throughout the process of determining research priorities the panel will necessarily have to make judgments on the feasibility, technical readiness and risks involved in supporting a particular facility or program. The panel is expected to maintain independence in this process, (see Conflicts of Interest) and will consult with independent authorities when necessary. It is critical to the overall success of the LRP that the assessment of science capability and budgetary demands is seen as a fair and rigorous process. The increasing overlap between fundamental physics and various areas of astronomy, in particular cosmology, makes it difficult to consider these areas as distinct subjects. In situations where notable overlaps with other subject areas arise, the review will pay close attention to any goals that have been set in similar fields while still maintaining independence of process.
The selection of the Chair is a critical issue since the LRP process must be viewed to be open and
without bias. A Chair that is viewed favourably by the entire community will thus bring goodwill
toward the planning process. As a consequence of the sensitive nature of the choice of the Chair,
the selection process will involve the Board of Directors of CASCA and the agencies
participating in LRP2010.
|Selection Of Chair Of The Author Panel|
Once the Chair of the main author panel has been appointed the selection of the remaining panel
members will begin. The additional panel members to be appointed will include a vice-Chair and
three or four panellists. Since the panel will be required at certain points to make comparative
assessments of the relative merits of different subject fields and programs, it is necessary that the
panel have significant breadth in expertise. The panel members will be selected by the CASCA
President and Panel Chair, in consultation with agency designates and the CASCA Board.
|Selection Of Main Author Panel|
The original LRP and MTR relied upon CASCA committees to provide reports to the author
panel. The author panel will decide on the sub-committee structure to be used in LRP2010.
|Structure Of Review: Working Groups|
The author panel will deliver the final version LRP2010 (in English) and associated
recommendations to the President of CASCA. The LRP will then be simultaneously released, in
both official languages, to all relevant parties including NSERC, the NRC, CFI, CSA and
relevant Ministries of the Government of Canada.
The review process will begin upon appointment of the Chair of the author panel, which is
anticipated to be announced at the CASCA 2009 meeting. Discipline working groups are
anticipated to begin their tasks as soon as they are appointed. The process is anticipated to take
no longer than 18 months, with the public launch of LRP2010 in Fall 2010.
The members of all committees will ensure that all work conducted under the auspices of said
committees is conducted in a manner free of conflicts of interest. Any persons associated with
the committees are also bound to similar conduct.
For the purposes of this review, a conflict of interest is defined to be a situation where any
committee member or his/her family is able to benefit financially from involvement in the review
process, or if a prioritized process is percieved to benefit the individual’s place of work.
If a conflict of interest arises, it must be declared so that the Chair may take appropriate action. It
may be necessary to exclude a panel member from participation in debate about a particular
project priority. Committee members are also advised to provide early notification of the
possibility of conflicts occurring.
The review is expected to be an accountable and open process. Submissions to the project will be
made public however proprietyary information may be so-indicated and will be kept
confidential. However, prior to mutually agreed upon release dates, all committee members are
to agree that they will not disclose or give to any person any information or documents relating