NASA Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop
Mission Statement for NASA's Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop 2006
Laboratory Astrophysicists and Astrochemists (experimentalists, theorists, and modelers), Astronomers and Astrophysicists (observers, theorists, and modelers), Space Mission Scientists, Instrument Developers and other interested researchers.
The NASA Universe Working Group (UWG) has requested that the laboratory astrophysics community put together a White Paper in time for the UWG's next meeting in April 2006. The Laboratory Astrophysics Workshop (LAW) 2006 has been designed to produce the requested report.
Goals and Specific Objectives
The White Paper will be the result of bringing together producers and users of laboratory astrophysics data so that they can understand each other's needs and limitations in the context of NASA's mission needs. Increasing the collaboration and cross fertilization of ideas is important to ensuring that the priorities for Laboratory Astrophysics are determined by NASA's astronomy and astrophysics goals, and that the products of Laboratory Astrophysics feed back to the user community in a timely way.
The desired White Paper should specifically contain science requirement flow down charts that begin with the major science goals as defined in the NASA Roadmaps (See SEU 2003 Roadmap and 2003 Origins Roadmap). The White Paper should also provide details on the critical laborabory astrophysics data requirements which will have to be met, if the desired science results are actually to be achieved. The best means of distributing this critical information to the astronomical community, such as through extensive databases, will be discussed.
Another important item in the White Paper should be a tabulation of recent significant astronomical results where the input from laboratory astrophysics was of critical importance (although the laboratory astrophysics contribution may not have received the credit due it, as is so often the case). The current funding environment, including the very difficult years ahead, will require a certain amount of salesmanship.
There should additionally be a detailed discussion of the specific laboratory astrophysics efforts that will need to be undertaken in direct support of not just past and current missions and programs, but also those on the near horizon. These include specifically Herschel, Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Constellation-X, and Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) (of primary concern to NSF).
Lastly, with an eye on the future, a discussion should also be given as to what can be done in order to help foster the creation of new faculty positions and the education and production of future generations of laboratory astrophysics scientists.
Laboratory astrophysics is the foundation for much of astrophysics, and yet its infrastructure may be fragile in the face of declining funds. Investments are needed in order to insure the future vitality and scientific success for astrophysical research.
Invited talks by users, contributed presentations by providers, and breakout sessions for the science community to discuss recommendations to NASA.