Like many others, I got an email this week with a link to notes from the Ground Based review Town Meeting. You can find this linked at the official GBFR page. There is nothing very unexpected from that debate, but Michael Rowan-Robinson stressed that we should all pitch in. At the time of the town meeting, there were 95 responses. To make the powers that be pay attention, MRR says we need at least 400, similar to the number that responded to the Ward panel. I know some of you may be thinking “what difference does it make ?” but unless there is a large response, there will be every justification for thinking that ground based facilities don’t matter very much. So get your response in !
The panel have also made it clear that they can accept unsolicited papers, as long as these are within two pages. General rants won’t help at all, but if you have a specific proposal, make sure its known.
MRR also noted that somehow we have to make our economic impact case. In various places, senior STFC folk have made it clear that “the case for space” is made, and indeed there has been a fair amount of PR recently about space and the UK economy and the new Harwell ESA centre, and indeed a consultation has been launched. It seems a bit rough to split off “astronomy in space” from other astronomy, as astronomy overall could have made a good economic impact case. Note however that most of the space industry is not about astronomy, so if space-based astronomy gets bundled up, thats good. But the lesson is that we can’t allow “astronomy on the ground” to be forced into an unfunable ghetto. Must be some trick here we haven’t thought of.