May 23, 2014
Washington D.C. -- Today the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) commented on the release of the draft report of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5). That panel was charged by the DOE and NSF to examine the priorities, options, impacts, and scientific deliverables in the area of high energy physics in view of changing budget assumptions, and also to consider the changes in planning that might result from the discovery of the Higgs boson. Increasingly, AURA’s planning and vision for the future are being directly affected by the deliberations of the P5 process. The release of this draft report provides a strong context for many of AURA's programs including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) and the proposed mid-scale Dark Energy Survey Initiative (DESI).
Dr. Dan Clemens, of Boston University and Chairman of the AURA Board, noted, "AURA cannot help but be pleased by the P5 report. The strong endorsements for both LSST and DESI as critical tools for revealing the nature of dark matter and dark energy align well with the goals and aspirations of the ground-based astronomical community. LSST is proceeding smoothly into its construction phase and DESI will arrive at the right time to utilize all the capabilities offered by the Mayall 4m telescope on Kitt Peak.
Dr. Steve Kahn, Director of LSST, said "The P5 process is enormously important to the US high energy physics program since it is a community-based process that sets the priorities for the field. We were delighted to see that the P5 committee echoed previous endorsements of the development of the LSST camera as an essential near-term project, and that the completion of LSST as planned was recommended under all budget scenarios."
Many of the P5 recommendations strongly affect the future planning for the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). NOAO has made major programmatic, financial, scientific and technical contributions to the development of both LSST and DESI projects. Dr. David Silva, Director of NOAO, said "DESI and LSST are guaranteed to greatly expand humanity's understanding of the cosmos from our local galactic neighborhood to deep time. I am delighted that NOAO is so deeply involved in what are sure to be two of the most exciting research facilities for astronomy and astrophysics in the 2020s."
The Draft Report of the P5
is expected to be approved by the High Energy Physics Panel (HEPAP). Other relevant HEPAP documents and reports, which provide context for the P5 report, are available on the DOE website
Dr. William S. Smith, Jr.