The Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of the interstellar medium and the formation of stars and planets in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include the interstellar medium in the Milky Way, other relevant aspects of Milky Way science, star formation, astrochemistry, interstellar plasmas and magnetohydrodynamic phenomena, protoplanetary disks and debris disks, and planet formation as well as the interstellar medium and star formation in nearby galaxies.
Overall Project Statement of Task:
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall convene an ad hoc survey committee and supporting study panels to carry out a decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. The study will generate consensus recommendations to implement a comprehensive strategy and vision for a decade of transformative science at the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics. The committee, with inputs from study panels covering the breadth of astronomy and astrophysics, will carry out the following tasks:
- Provide an overview of the current state of astronomy and astrophysics science, and technology research in support of that science, with connections to other scientific areas where appropriate;
- Identify the most compelling science challenges and frontiers in astronomy and astrophysics, which shall motivate the committee’s strategy for the future;
- Develop a comprehensive research strategy to advance the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics for the period 2022-2032 that will include identifying, recommending, and ranking the highest priority research activities — taking into account for each activity the scientific case, international and private landscape, timing, cost category and cost risk, as well as technical readiness, technical risk, and opportunities for partnerships. The strategy should be balanced, by considering large, medium, and small activities for both ground and space. (Activities include any project, telescope, facility, experiment, mission, or research program of sufficient scope to be identified separately in the final report.) For each recommended activity the committee will lay out the principal science objectives and activity capabilities, including assumed or recommended activity lifetime, where possible;
- Utilize and recommend decision rules, where appropriate, for the comprehensive research strategy that can accommodate significant but reasonable deviations in the projected budget or changes in urgency precipitated by new discoveries or unanticipated competitive activities;
- Assess the state of the profession, using information available externally and, if necessary, data gathered by the study itself, including workforce and demographic issues in the field. Identify areas of concern and importance to the community raised by this assessment in service of the future vitality and capability of the astronomy and astrophysics work force. Where possible, provide specific, actionable and practical recommendations to the agencies and community to address these areas. This report shall be made available following the completion of the study.