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Consensus Study Report


We live in a time of extraordinary discovery and progress in astronomy and astrophysics. The next decade will transform our understanding of the universe and humanity's place in it. Every decade the U.S. agencies that provide primary federal funding for astronomy and astrophysics request a survey to assess the status of, and opportunities for the Nation's efforts to forward our understanding of the cosmos. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s identifies the most compelling science goals and presents an ambitious program of ground- and space-based activities for future investment in the next decade and beyond. The decadal survey identifies three important science themes for the next decade aimed at investigating Earth-like extrasolar planets, the most energetic processes in the universe, and the evolution of galaxies. The Astro2020 report also recommends critical near-term actions to support the foundations of the profession as well as the technologies and tools needed to carry out the science.



Public Briefing Video

Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

628 pages |  8.5 x 11 | 

  • Paperback:  978-0-309-46734-6
  • Ebook:  978-0-309-46877-0
Chapters skim
Front Matter i-xxiv
Summary 1-10
1 Pathways to Discovery: From Foundations to Frontiers 11-32
2 A New Cosmic Perspective 33-82
3 The Profession and Its Societal Impacts: Gateways to Science, Pathways to Diversity, Equity, and Sustainability 83-127
4 Optimizing the Science: Foundations 128-156
5 Evaluating and Balancing the Operational Portfolio 157-169
6 Technology Foundations and Small- and Medium-Scale Sustaining Programs 170-185
7 Realizing the Opportunities: Medium- and Large-Scale Programs 186-226
Appendixes 227-228
Appendix A: Statement of Task, Additional Guidance, and Panel Descriptions 229-236
Appendix B: Report of the Panel on Compact Objects and Energetic Phenomena 237-254
Appendix C: Report of the Panel on Cosmology 255-270
Appendix D: Report of the Panel on Galaxies 271-290
Appendix E: Report of the Panel on Exoplanets, Astrobiology, and the Solar System 291-310
Appendix F: Report of the Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation 311-329
Appendix G: Report of the Panel on Stars, the Sun, and Stellar Populations 330-347
Appendix H: Report of the Panel on an Enabling Foundation for Research 348-372
Appendix I: Report of the Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 1 373-397
Appendix J: Report of the Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space 2 398-421
Appendix K: Report of the Panel on Optical and Infrared Observations from the Ground 422-447
Appendix L: Report of the Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation 448-471
Appendix M: Report of the Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Observations from the Ground 472-497
Appendix N: Report of the Panel on State of the Profession and Societal Impacts 498-548
Appendix O: Independent Technical, Risk, and Cost Evaluation 549-555
Appendix P: Acronyms and Abbreviations 556-567
Appendix Q: Committee and Panel Biographical Information 568-604

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Public Briefing Video

During this webinar, the decadal survey co-chairs discuss the key recommendations from the report and take questions from the audience.

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