The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) of the United States of America has released the Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020).

Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s is available from NASEM, including a pdf version that is made available for free download.

The Astro2020 report is based on input from the research community that was gathered through white papers and a series of panels. The report identifies key challenges in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics over the next ten years, as well as the most compelling science goals on which research could focus. Potential investments that could be made in ground- and space-based activities to advance NASA astronomy and astrophysics are discussed. Many of these recommendations bear relevance to astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth.

A discussion of astrobiology-related items in the Astro2020 decadal survey recently featured on the Many Worlds blog.

NASA relies on the science community to identify and prioritize leading-edge scientific questions and the observations required to answer them. One principal means by which NASA’s Science Mission Directorate engages the science community in this task is through the National Research Council (NRC). The NRC conducts studies that provide a science community consensus on key questions posed by NASA and other U.S. government agencies. The broadest of these studies in NASA’s areas of research are decadal surveys. As the name implies, NASA and its partners ask the NRC once each decade to look out 10 or more years into the future and prioritize research areas, observations, and notional missions to make those observations.

The Many Worlds Blog chronicles the search for evidence of life beyond Earth written by author/journalist Marc Kaufman. The “Many Worlds” column is supported by the Lunar Planetary Institute/USRA and informed by NASA’s NExSS initiative, a research coordination network supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program. Any opinions expressed are the author’s alone.