Update from the LRP Implementation Committee

 

The LRPIC is charged with monitoring the progress to achieving the astronomy Long Range Plan of 2010, and of updating priorities as events unfold. In the current economic climate, funding many of our aspirations is challenging. The committee members are Mike Balogh, Tim Davidge, John Hutchings (chair), Brian McNamara, Ingrid Stairs, and Rob Thacker. Observers are Greg Fahlman, Laura Ferrarese, Gilles Joncas, and Alain Ouellet, for CASCA, NRC, and CSA.

 

We have been monitoring, discussing, and participating in, ongoing work towards most of the LRP projects. We give here a brief status summary of those that have been seeing action and progress during the year. The full LRP, and glossary of acronyms can be found at http://www.casca.ca/lrp2010/Draft.v4.4.2.web_sm.pdf.

 

TMT. There has been considerable activity by a number of people, all at the political level, towards getting the project funded for construction, with nominal start date spring 2014. The details are complex and ongoing, but involve all the partners. Documents that summarize the Canadian viewpoint are available at http://www.casca.ca/projects.php. These are being used in lobbying the federal government and other possible sources of funds. Progress to this point is positive, if slow.

 

Euclid. This ESA mission has been our main hope for fulfilling the top space astronomy priority: dark energy. Schedule and budget issues have seen us following diminishing possibilities over a few years. The effort has culminated in a complex plan involving CSA, NRC (CADC), Compute Canada, Universities, and PanSTARRS to have us provide the ground-based part of the Euclid sky survey. There are significant difficulties still, but we have until June 2013 to pull this together.

 

Canada has formally joined the SKA project, as first step in being a partner in the full facility, in the next decade. Negotiations are under way to keep JCMT going to complete SCUBA2 surveys. We have an active group working to be a partner in CCAT. CSA is proceeding with providing the metrology system for Astro-H, via Neptec and a science team. CSA continues to support the JWST and Astrosat missions from the last LRP. Projects that have risen in stature within the LRP include CASTOR and ngCFHT.

 

CASTOR is the concept for a Canadian-led space telescope providing wide field imaging at 0.15 resolution in the far-UV and blue range. It has attracted significant attention among potential partners internationally, as it offers a unique capability to follow up after GALEX, Astrosat, and HST have gone, with powerful survey and PI program capability. The immediate task is to see if CSA can continue developing the concept and finding partners.

 

ngCFHT is the plan to upgrade the telescope to 10m class within the existing dome, with multi-object spectrograph instrumentation. This will require new partners and money, but considerable work has been done in initial studies by an international team, that has been submitted to CFHT board. Note that there is a workshop devoted to the project in March 2013 (see http://ngcfht.cfht.hawaii.edu/index.php).

 

In order to provide more detail, and news as it happens on the many LRP projects in gestation, we plan to set up a web page or blog in the near future. In the meantime, we welcome thoughts and comments from the astronomy community.