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Basic Research in the Mission Agencies: Agency Perspectives on the Conduct and Support of Basic Research.

  • G. E., Murray
  • T. M., Hahn
  • L. M., Cooke
  • W. F., Hueg
SETI Institute


Major advances in our understanding of the Universe over the history of astronomy have often arisen from dramatic improvements in our ability to observe the sky to greater depth, in previously unexplored wavebands, with higher precision, or with improved spatial, spectral, or temporal resolution. Aided by rapid progress in information technology, current sky surveys are again changing the way we view and study the Universe, and the next-generation instruments, and the surveys that will be made with them, will maintain this revolutionary progress. Substantial progress in the important scientific problems of the next decade (determining the nature of dark energy and dark matter, studying the evolution of galaxies and the structure of our own Milky Way, opening up the time domain to discover faint variable objects, and mapping both the inner and outer Solar System) all require wide-field repeated deep imaging of the sky in optical bands. The wide-fast-deep science requirement leads to a single wide-field telescope and camera which can repeatedly survey the sky with deep short exposures. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a dedicated telescope with an effective aperture of 6.7 meters and a field of view of 9.6 deg (sup 2), will make major contributions to all these scientific areas and more. It will carry out a survey of 20,000 deg (sup 2) of the sky in six broad photometric bands, imaging each region of sky roughly 2000 times (1000 pairs of back-to-back 15-sec exposures) over a ten-year survey lifetime.

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