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Report Endorses NASA's Proposed Contribution to Euclid Mission

Press Release From: National Research Council
Posted: Friday, February 3, 2012

NASA is considering a hardware contribution to the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Euclid mission in exchange for U.S. membership on the Euclid Science Team and access to the mission's data. The Euclid mission will employ a space telescope to image a large portion of the extragalactic sky at unprecedented resolution and measure spectra for millions of galaxies. The data obtained will contribute information on dark energy and to the measurement of cosmological parameters.

A new National Research Council report, ASSESSMENT OF A PLAN FOR U.S. PARTICIPATION IN EUCLID, responds to a request from NASA to evaluate this possible U.S. contribution to Euclid and concludes that the investment of approximately $20 million in hardware would be a valuable first step toward meeting the scientific goals of the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST), which is one of the top-ranked priorities recommended in New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, the National Research Council's recent decadal survey of research priorities in astronomy and astrophysics. However, the new report concluded, the Euclid mission on its own is not sufficient for achieving the broader decadal survey goals for the WFIRST mission, nor will it seek to accomplish the more ambitious goals for WFIRST's dark energy measurements.

The report stipulates that in exchange for its contribution, NASA should secure a U.S. position on the Euclid Science Team with early access to data as well as place a team of U.S. scientists at the Euclid Consortium. NASA's investment should be made in the context of a strong U.S. commitment to move forward with the full implementation of WFIRST in order to fully realize the decadal survey's recommended research priorities.

Should any financial commitment beyond $30 million be proposed for hardware expenditures, the report recommends NASA seek independent community review.

The combination of data from planned U.S.-led ground-based surveys with Euclid and WFIRST data will enhance the science return from both the ground- and space-based surveys, the report concludes, and a coordinated, strategic approach to managing these joint data sets could position the U.S. for a leadership role in their use.

The report is available for immediate release. Reporters who wish to obtain copies should contact the Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail news@nas.edu.

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