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Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) Minutes 10-11 Jul 2001

Status Report From: NASA Advisory Council
Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Letter to SEUS Director Dr. Anne Kinney from Dr. Bruce Margon, Chair of SEUS

Dear Dr. Kinney,

The Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS) met at NASA Headquarters on July 10-11, 2001, and I write to convey results of its activities. The last half of the second day of the meeting was held jointly with the Origins Subcommittee, and where applicable, joint recommendations are noted.

SEUS reconsidered the issue of the Advisory Committee structure after the Code S reorganization. We reaffirm our earlier recommendation that at least in the short term (one year), the SEUS and OS retain separate identities and meetings, but also meet in plenary sessions. The current theme structure has been beneficial to both programs. This topic was discussed jointly with the OS, who have forwarded a similar recommendation to you.

This might be the optimum solution for the longer term as well. If regular plenary sessions occurred at the start and end of both subcommittee meetings, we would maximize the efficiencies of common briefings and information exchange. This approach retains the expertise needed by each group to cope with the exceptionally broad range of topics routinely considered. These plenary sessions could be used to resolve the occasional differences, which arise between the committees; we note that such direct conflicts are rare in any case.

SEUS is currently short several members, and we urge prompt appointment of replacements, so that the Subcommittee has the necessary breadth to produce the new Roadmap.

SEUS heard plans for a revised organization to canvas community opinion and prepare the next SEU Roadmap. Our concept of the next Roadmap document consists of two volumes. Part I would be a shorter, integrated description of the CJ program, its vision, and its long-term science goals. Part II would structurally more closely resemble the previous Roadmap: a more detailed and technical discussion of the community's consensus on the most important scientific problems, missions and future priorities to achieve the program described in Part I.

The optimal writing group for Part I might consist of a subset of SEUS augmented by other community members, but in any case this group should have extensive interactions with the full SEUS, and receive its full endorsement of the final product. Part II could be authored by the full SEUS.

The community has just emerged from a number of long term planning efforts, including the Decadal Survey and the Turner Committee. We urge OSS to take maximum advantage of the work already accomplished in these efforts, while still obtaining a canvas of additional community opinions.

SScAC recently commented on the negative impacts of NPG 28.10 on OSS activities in the community; Code S was urged to be more proactive in the NPG approval process. SEUS has now learned of two new proposed NPGs concerning the commercialization of software and technology, and fears the possibility of similar serious problems. We urge Code S to understand the possibility of highly negative impacts on the community before concurring with this type of NPG. In particular, it is important to understand whether centers are expected to routinely implement these new policies in community grants and contracts.

Astro-E2

Our letter of March 7, 2001 strongly endorsed NASA participation in the Japanese Astro-E2 mission. We reaffirm our enthusiasm for this program, and strongly urge that the collaboration be enabled while the opportunity is still available. (Shortly after our meeting, we received the happy news that Code S has indeed committed to move forward with participation).

NVO National Virtual Observatory

The National Virtual Observatory (NVO) has been designated the highest priority small program by the Decadal Survey, and touches on virtually every Code S mission. The management and modest costs are to be shared with NSF. We urge Code S to move ahead with a plan for implementing an initial stage of the NVO as soon as possible and in particular to quickly identify funding options. This topic was discussed jointly with the OS, who have forwarded a similar statement of support to you.

Sincerely,

Bruce Margon, for the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee

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