GSMT Science Working Group (SWG)

AURA created a community-wide GSMT Science Working Group (SWG) in response to a request from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The charge of the SWG is to “advise the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences on a strategy for guiding federal investment in a Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT).” Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, Director of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii is the chair of the GSMT SWG, with NOAO’s Steve Strom as vice-chair.

In an article in the June, 2002 NOAO Newsletter, Dr. Jeremy Mould announced the formation of the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) Science Working Group (SWG).

“This working group is intended to be the community-based body that will develop the science case and justification for any federal investment by NSF or other agencies in GSMT. The Science Working Group will represent the US community in assembling relevant partnerships for describing and advocating the appropriate federal role in this project. This guidance is intended to be a product of all public, private, and international groups that expect to play a role in the GSMT. Science Working Group members are expected to actively participate in technical, observational, and theoretical astrophysical studies that will be useful in defining and focusing the scientific objectives for the GSMT.”

The first report prepared by the GSMT Science Working Group, Frontier Science Enabled by a Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope, was provided to the Astronomy Division of the National Science Foundation July 2003.

During FY05, the GSMT SWG (a) completed a study to advance qualitative and quantitative understanding of the complementarity between JWST and a 20—30-m ELT and (b) continued to provide a public forum for discussion of technical progress and scientific capabilities of two ongoing US ELT programs: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

The SWG also met jointly with ESO scientists to advance mutual understanding of the scientific capabilities of telesocpes ranging in aperture from 20-30m, to 50-60m and 80-100m, and in FY06 made progress on a white paper outlining scientific performance of ELTs as a function of aperture. As it became clear that all active ELT projects were focusing on the lower end of this aperture range, further efforts on this study were suspended.

Starting in late 2007, SWG efforts were devoted to assisting AURA/NOAO in developing a national Design Reference Mission (DRM), to be used in support of the scientific case for public participation in an ELT. As a first major step, the SWG sponsored a science workshop in June 2008, together with NOAO, GMT and TMT.

The SWG has also enjoyed high-level representation from the Japanese astronomical community.

Future efforts carried out or sponsored by the SWG are expected to include: