The Senior Review report urged NOAO to ensure that community access to facilities remains scientifically balanced over all apertures. To accomplish this, NOAO has charged this committee, ReSTAR (Renewing Small Telescopes for Astronomical Research), to develop a prioritized, quantitative, science-justified list of capabilities appropriate to telescopes with apertures less than 6 meters, together with estimates of the number of nights needed. The committee must both address current needs and uses of such telescopes and attempt to predict how these needs will evolve over the next ten years — into the era of Pan-STARRS, LSST, JWST, ALMA, GSMT, and the NVO.

NOAO will respond to the recommendations of this committee in several ways. Modernization of the existing national facilities is already under way. The development of new capabilities and the goal of establishing a real system involving federal and non-federal facilities will be guided by the report from this committee. The NSF has stated their support for this process and their interest in finding resources to address these community needs.



Draft Charge to the Small and Mid-Sized Telescope System Science Committee

  1. Over the next 6-12 months, develop a report on the instrumental capabilities needed by the U.S. community on ground-based O/IR telescopes less than 6.5 meter aperture, based on the recommendations of the Senior Review (section The list of capabilities should flow from community scientific aspirations and should represent all areas of astronomical research and wavelength and types of observation, though the committee should roughly prioritize and/or establish a sequence to keep the size of the total suite and the program realistic.
  2. For each capability, the report of the committee should comment on (and justify):
    1. a description of the science enabled by each capability
    2. the telescope aperture range
    3. the site characteristics, including whether north or south or both
    4. the instrumental characteristics
    5. the number of nights needed
    6. the desired modes of access (including, for example, queue, remote, service, classical, TOO)
    7. the minimum operational support requirements to achieve the scientific goals
    In addition, if a known facility can provide the needed capability or can be argued to be the best place to deploy such a capability, the committee should present that information. In particular, identify those capabilities that are most appropriate for NOAO telescopes or NOAO sites.
  3. With support from a NOAO technical group, establish a rough costing for the capabilities that do not currently exist. This may require some iteration in order to arrive at a consistent view of capability and cost.
  4. Present the report in enough detail that it can be used as input to a subsequent discussion with the NSF and among the operators of small and mid-sized telescopes. The goal of this discussion is to develop a national program that creates the optimized suite of capabilities in the report, provides appropriate access to them by the entire community, and supports them at an adequate level.

ReSTAR at the AAS