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Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007


The National Academy's Beyond Einstein Report and the Future of Space Astronomy

Before 2004, NASA's Beyond Einstein program included ambitious space missions to understand the nature of the dark energy that has been accelerating the expansion of the universe, test general relativity, and discover gravity waves from the mergers of supermassive black holes and from the cosmic inflation that preceded the Big Bang. All of these, plus space missions to map our home galaxy and investigate whether planets around other stars have life, were indefinitely postponed in January, 2004, when NASA's highest priority was shifted toward putting astronauts back on the moon and eventually sending them to Mars. Under pressure from Congress, the National Academy of Sciences was commissioned in 2006 to assess how to restart the Beyond Einstein program, leading to the formation of the National Research Council's Beyond Einstein Assessment Program (BEPAC). The BEPAC report is scheduled to be released at 1 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept. 5 by posting on the National Academies Press website. This colloquium by one of the BEPAC members will summarize and explain the research strategy the report proposes and its implications for continued U.S. participation in the exploration of the universe.



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