Decadal Plan Working Group Terms of Reference


By considering how best to position Australia in the international astronomical landscape of the coming decade the Working Group is requested to compile a report that:


1.      provides a stocktake of current or future proposed capabilities/resources in the area

2.      identifies any new national or international opportunities/requirements in the area over the period 2006-15

3.      suggests strategies and the resourcing levels required to maximise these new opportunities.


The WG should submit their report to the NCA, through the Chair, no later than April 30 2005.


The WG is encouraged to consult widely, through whatever means appropriate, with all key stake holders (both national and international) in developing their report.


"The WG is asked to submit to the Chair of the National Committee for Astronomy, by 1 Dec 2004, a progress report on activities and an outline plan (with milestones) for the delivery of the final report (which is due April 30 2005).


Decadal Plan Working Group Context


The final reports provided by the Working Groups will provide the basis for the Australian Astronomy Decadal Plan for 2006-15, to be drafted by an Editorial Board. It is currently envisaged that the Editorial Board will draft the Plan in the context of the Big Questions in astronomy over the next ten years e.g.


1.      What is the nature of Dark Matter and Dark Energy and how do they shape the structure of the Universe and individual galaxies?

2.      When and how did the first luminous objects form in the Universe and how did they effect their environments?

3.       What is the frequency and nature of planetary systems in the Galaxy, and what drives their diversity and habitability?

4.      How are elements processed through stars and galaxies to produce the cosmic chemical environment in which we live?

5.      Do the same physical constants and physical laws apply throughout the Universe, regardless of age, temperature, density and gravity?


Where appropriate, WGs may wish to frame their reports addressing these and any other "Big Questions" they may wish to identify.


Decadal Plan Working Group Guidelines


The ToR are intended to enable the WGs to approach their task from a number of different directions. The WGs may wish to look at the issues in their area from a variety perspectives e.g. current resources vs future needs, existing capability mapping, SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis.


Inevitably, there will be overlaps between different WGs. WGs should (i) check with other groups regarding potential overlaps, and (ii) tend to be inclusive and cover anything they think is relevant to their topic even if it is being covered by another working group.


WGs should focus on producing strong arguments, meaningful statistics, telling examples and comprehensive lists. The report should include as many useful tables and figures as possible. WGs should generate the valuable content for the Decadal Plan, emphasising substance over style, quantitative arguments over qualitative, and let the Editorial Board structure and polish the material.