Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) Minutes 25-26 Sep 2000

Status Report From: NASA Advisory Council
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Letter to SEU Director Dr. Alan Bunner from Dr. Bruce Margon, Chair of SEUS

Dear Alan:

The Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) met at NASA Headquarters on September 25-26, 2000. All members were present with the exception of Charles Lawrence and Simon Swordy. Fiona Harrison, Executive Assistant to the Chair, was also unable to attend.  We received a large number of interesting presentations and status reports, and this note covers only those items of special interest.

1. We warmly congratulate Marc Allen and his colleagues for their work on the Enterprise Strategic Plan. It is a document of which both NASA and the community can be proud.

2. SEUS is gratified to see that the recommendations in "Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium," the report of the NAS Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee, are nicely in concert with the SEU Roadmap and the OSS Enterprise Strategic Plan. We reaffirm our enthusiasm for all three of our major missions, Constellation-X, LISA, and ACCESS, as an integrated package in the Cosmic Journeys initiative. 

3.   SR&T support is funding of especially high leverage, as it is our path to the future. When criteria are established for selection of the panel members of the upcoming SR&T review, we hope that Code S allows sufficient flexibility to get the proper balance of expertise, even if this means that no one simple algorithm is used for panel selection. We also reiterate our concern that the proposals selected align with the Strategic Plan on all timescales, not just the near-term.

We recognize the great importance of this review to our discipline. Thus SEUS would like if at all possible at its next meeting the opportunity to review and comment on the rough draft "proposals" for the SR&T clusters that contain SEU content.

4. SEUS is very concerned to learn about the possible cancellation of the plan for the US to supply the FIRST telescope. This move would potentially reduce the US role and visibility in the program, and quite likely affect the scientific return to the US community. The CFRP mirror, flown here for the first time, is also a key part of future NASA technology.

5. We are very pleased that NASA has created a flight opportunity for a LISA technology test on ST3 . We hope that a US component to the LISA technology demo on ST3 will be possible, in order to initiate development of US capabilities in these areas. This would require $6.5M in FY01 in order to met the ST3 schedule. SEUS  supports such an expenditure.

 6. SEUS is pleased to see a competitive AO for cross-cutting technology funds, and urges that this program be continued and expanded, possibly to also include Enterprise-specific technology. This is especially important in the light of the lack of other paths for significant Code S technology funds; any new initiatives to address this problem would be very important.

7. The Explorer flight rate has only recently been increased to the current level, but this rate might now be impacted by new approaches to risk-reduction. We urge that risk-reduction efforts on Explorer missions be proportional to the scope and cost of the mission.

8. The success of Joule in the most recent SMEX selection is reaffirmation of the science case for the XRS, an instrument that has been part of the OSS Strategic Plan for two decades. We are pleased to learn of a cost-effective flight opportunity for XRS on ASTRO-E2 . We hope that a way can be found to take advantage of this opportunity by changing Joule from a SMEX to a MO, especially if the impact on the remaining SMEX selections is minimal. 

A tentative date of February 26-27 2001 has been set for the next SEUS meeting, at NASA HQ. This date was picked to provide the opportunity to comment on and still impact the rough draft SR&T cluster documents that are of interest to SEU; so that FY02 budget data are public by our meeting; and to be a few weeks prior to the Winter SScAC meeting.


Bruce Margon
Chair, SEUS

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