Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope

Science Working Group

Kick-Off Meeting Information

 GSMT Science Working Group

Committee Charge:

 The NSF AST Division has authorized NOAO to establish and maintain a Science Working Group for the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope.  This Working Group is intended to be the community based body that will develop the science case and justification for any federal investment by NSF or other agencies in GSMT. The Science Working Group will represent the US community in assembling relevant partnerships for describing and advocating the appropriate federal role in this project. This guidance is intended to be a product of all public, private and international groups that expect to play a role in the GSMT. SWG members are expected to actively participate in those technical, observational and theoretical astrophysical studies, which will be useful in defining and focusing the scientific objectives for the GSMT. The GSMT SWG has the following specific tasks, (but is not limited to them):

    1. Develop the science cases and scientific priorities for a GSMT. Refine the science goals outlined in earlier reports prepared by participating institutions. This includes evaluation of the likely impact that advances expected with existing and near-term studies will have on the science goals of GSMT, along with consideration of the costs and benefits of alternative approaches. It also includes working with the scientific community to ensure that the goals continue to be exciting, important, and representative of the highest scientific priorities for a general  purpose optical/infrared observatory.
    2. Develop a flowdown from key science to top level engineering goals and requirements. Develop performance metrics for the GSMT telescope, instrumentation, software, operations, and other aspects of the program; and assess performance against these metrics.
    3. Identify the key instrumentation capabilities for a GSMT. Review currently proposed science instruments and propose alternate designs or complementary instrumentation that would enhance scientific usefulness, improve observing efficiency, or lead to potential cost reduction.
    4. Establish the scientific relationship between GSMT and other major facilities (for examples NGST, ALMA, SKA, TPF etc)
    5. With specific reference to the Adaptive Optics roadmap, establish the relationship between specific AO capabilities and science outcomes.
    6. Identify the priorities for key technology developments.
    7. Provide scientific assessments of design concepts and implementation plans for their impact on the overall scientific performance.
    8. Assemble appropriate community-wide partnerships for preparation of any proposals to NSF for funding activities related to GSMT.


The first meeting of the Science Working Group  was held at the NOAO offices in the main conference room in Tucson, Arizona on Monday, July 29 and Tuesday July 30.

Members Present: Barton-Gillespie, Bolte, Colless, Cruz-Gonzalez, Herter, Ho, Kudritzki, Rigaut, Simons
Absent: Woodward, Max, Bechtold
Others present: Dey, Johnstone, Mould, Najita, Ridgway, Stepp, Strom, Weedman


NSF is looking to SWG to define what kind of GSMT the community wants and to foster partnerships to make it happen.

NSF is also looking to SWG to guide federal investments in a GSMT and making sure that a community consensus develops about a single GSMT program.

SWG perspective:

The community needs to perceive that the NSF indeed looks to the SWG for advice. Forging the needed consensus and support depends on this.


Rolf Kudritzki to work closely with Wayne van Citters to keep him apprised of committee activities and to enlist his support. First interaction planned for early August.


The COMRAA report recommended the formation of a NASA/NSF joint advisory panel charged with preparing an integrated strategic plan and to encourage cooperation and coordination between the agencies.

Plans are underway to form such a committee: NAAAC

When formed, a key issue is likely to be the role of GSMT in enabling full realization of the NGST DRM.

Weedman perspective:

It may be a while before the committee is formed, and it is not yet clear to what extent it will prove effective in influencing agency policy. He believes it would be unwise to link the case for GSMT too closely to NGST should NGST be delayed significantly. There is a powerful 'stand alone' science case for GSMT.

SWG perspective:

The committee should be cognizant of NAAAC and prepared to provide input.


Kudritzki to monitor NAAC formation and early activities and recommend a presentation by SWG to NAAAC at an appropriate time.

Chairman's Perspective (Kudritzki)

SWG can play a significant role in enabling a GSMT. A GSMT will be complex and costly. To bring the needed federal investment to the table will require organization and consensus building that to date has been the exception rather than the rule among O/IR astronomers. SWG can help bring about the needed cooperation and partnerships.

What SWG can do is to provide NSF with a unified strategic plan which lays out::

To be effective, we need to summarize the accomplishments of 8-10m class telescopes over the past half decade; describe how far they will take us in the next decade, and explain carefully why a 30-m class telescope is needed to advance the frontiers of knowledge in 2012.

SWG should focus first on its role as a SCIENCE working group -- with prime responsibility for developing a compelling science case for a GSMT. SWG should NOT push for a particular GSMT, but rather advise NSF on the kind of GSMT needed by the community and the kinds of investments that can bring about broad public access to such a telescope -- consistent with the first priority recommendation (ground-based) of the decadal survey.

The SWG agreed that its primary role must be to understand the science drivers (and associated priorities) for a GSMT and its role in the 'system' of facilities a decade hence.

To guide NSF, SWG will eventually need to compare the efficacy of extant or developing design concepts against the key science missions for a GSMT.


SWG will provide the science context in which a GSMT will operate via preparation of a 'white paper' which will:

The SWG believed it essential both to involve a broad cross section of the community in its work, to ensure that its activities are well publicized, and that its work products are available in a timely manner.


As a first step, establish a public web site which will:

Stepp to work with Novack, Kneale and Strom to establish the website. Review organization with Kudritzki.

SWG Membership (SWG discussion)

SWG membership should be expanded (<~ 5 members) to include:

Key in choosing individuals with these strengths is corresponding vision and perspective that would guide SWG in reaching consensus on the key science role of GSMT.

SWG also believed that a direct representative from Canada should be selected.


Kudritzki to contact Chris McKee and Charles Alcock.

Rolf will also select among members of the decadal survey O/IR panel as needed. He may also approach a member of the solar system community (e.g. Lunine and/or Jewett).

He should also approach one or more individuals in Canada who can bring their own and the Canadian community's science perspective on ELTs.

Finally, SWG believes that it would be desirable to have the perspective from individuals who have deep understanding of modern telescope systems. Kudritzki will approach Peter Gray.

Kudritzki will circulate proposed new members to SWG for commentary and confirm suitability with NSF.

Interaction with NSF (SWG reflections):

Close interaction with and strong, visible support from the NSF is sine qua non for SWG success in forging an effective community consensus that can serve NSF well.


Kudritzki to open a dialog with van Citters starting in early August. Regular summaries of SWG activities should be provided by telecon and personal visits.

Rolf should ask NSF to name a representative to attend all SWG meetings. (Dan Weedman suggested that the NSF's OIR coordinator [currently vacant] might be that person.)

Kudritzki should work with van Citters to establish mechanisms to introduce the committee to the community and encourage broad participation in its deliberations and support for its mission.

Interaction with other groups (SWG reflections)

SWG should establish contact with its counterparts in Europe, Japan, Canada and elsewhere.

SWG should also prepare presentations for NASA Origins and SEU advisory committees and establish ties with the NGST and ALMA SWGs.

SWG will need to contact other ELT groups in order first, to understand the science motivation and key drivers for their developing ELT design concepts, and second the concepts themselves.


Kudritzki (with assistance from Strom) will contact SWG analogs in Europe, Japan and elsewhere.

Kudritzki will contact all groups doing development work on ELTs, and make them aware that SWG will be asking them to prepare presentations summarizing scientific motivation + science drivers for their ELT concepts.

The SWG could engage the community at an AAS Special Session in Nashville in May. For this, a proposal must be sent to the AAS Council meeting in Seattle.

Developing a Deep Understanding of ELT Science Drivers

Helpful brief presentations were given by Bolte, Ho, Najita, Strom, and Herter on science drivers. In addition to those developed in the CELT Green Book and the GSMT Book, astrometric and far infrared science opportunities emerged in discussion.

SWG members need to invest time to understand ELT science cases. Synthesizing this information represents the starting point for SWG deliberations aimed at identifying key science drivers and the telescope performance needed to address them.


SWG members will lead small working groups that will:

These groups (see below) will prepare initial summaries for review in early September, and 20-30m summaries for the planned mid-October SWG meeting in Hawaii.

SWG Sub Groups

SOLAR SYSTEM -- STROM (approach Lunine and Jewitt); would Jonathan serve on SWG if asked?

EXTRASOLAR PLANETS -- HERTER, Ridgway, Joan, Francois

STAR FORMATION + ISM -- HO, Strom, Joan, Bo Reipurth, Irene, Johnstone







NB: Responsible individuals appear in CAPS

Two Year Goals and Cadence of Activities

By spring 2003, SWG should:

By spring 2004, SWG expects to lay out a strategic plan for NSF investment in the GSMT design phase that represents a broad community consensus.

Achieving these goals and forging consensus will require strong commitment from SWG and support from the NSF.


SWG will schedule monthly telecons starting in early SEP 02.

Holly Novack will check availability and establish a date and call-in procedures. Holly should research means of equipping these telecons with live document sharing.

SWG anticipates meeting in:

    Hawaii (mid 2002)
    Los Angeles (late January 2003)
    Washington, DC (late March/early April 2003) at NSF

Holly Novack will ascertain SWG availability and establish dates in consultation with Kudritzki.

Presentation were made by Michael Bolte, Paul Ho, Steve Strom, and Larry Stepp.  (See links below)

If you wish to contact any of the committee members via email, please replace the word "at" with the @ symbol in their address listed below.

Committee Members

Betsy Barton-Gillespie      

University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 857

betsyg at

Jill Bechtold

University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721   
jill at


Michael Bolte


Univ of Calif at Santa Cruz
401 Kerr Hall
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

bolte at
Matthew Colless Australian National University
Res. School of Astron. & Astrop.
Cotter Rd, Weston Creek
Canberra ACT 2611 Australia
colless at

Irene Cruz-Gonzalez

UNAM Instituto de Astronomia
Apdo. Postal 70-264
Ciudad Universitaria
Mexico D.F. 04510, Mexico 
irene at

Terry Herter

Cornell University
202 Space Sciences Bldg
Ithaca, NY 14853-6801
tlh10 at

Paul Ho

60 Garden Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
ho at

Rolf Kudritzki

Institute for Astronomy
2680 Woodlawn Drive
Honolulu, HI 96822

kud at
Claire Max LLNL
7000 East Avenue
Livermore, CA 94550-9900
max1 at
Francois Rigaut Gemini Observatory
670 N. A`ohoku Place
Hilo, HI 96720
frigaut at
Doug Simons Gemini Observatory
670 N. A`ohoku Place
Hilo, HI 96720
dsimons at
Steve Strom NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719                      
sstrom at                        
Chick Woodward

University of Minnesota
Dept of Astronomy
116 Church St, SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

chelsea at
Science Support Staff
Sam Barden NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
sbarden at
Arjun Dey

950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719

adey at
Joan Najita NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
jnajita at
Knut Olsen NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
kolsen at
Stephen Ridgway  NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
sridgway at
Others Present
Jeremy Mould NOAO
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
jmould at
Larry Stepp AURA New Initiatives Office
950 N Cherry Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85719
lstepp at
Dan Weedman National Science Foundation
Div of Astronomical Sciences
4201 Wilson Blvd, Rm 1045
Arlington, VA 22230
dweedman at
Douglas Johnstone Herzberg Inst. of Astrophysics
NRC of Canada/DAO
5071 W. Saanich Rd.
Victoria ON V9E 2E7 Canada
doug.johnstone at

Holly Novack / / December 6, 2002