History

As recounted on the home page, the USIC was formed specifically to study and advocate for the future of ground-based O/IR interferometry

Early Activities

A splinter meeting with the community was held at the January 2008 AAS in Austin. Sign-up sheets were passed around at this and each of the following community meetings.

On May 7, 2008, the USIC published an open invitation to the community to participate in working groups on the following topics:
1. Science opportunities for interferometry in the coming decade
2. Operational funding requirements and funding models for array facilities.
3. Science-driven enhancements of array facilities.
4. U.S. Community demand for interferometry
5. Models for community access to private interferometry facilities.
6. A roadmap for the future development of interferometry.
The abundant interest allowed the USIC to populate this groups with 6 or more members each. Over the following 6 months, these groups prepared outlines of issues, positions and recommendations, as appropriate. Progress was reported at the community meetings mentioned below.

ReSTAR Committee Report : After a presentation given by USIC committe members Rachael Akeson and Steve Ridgway, the ReSTAR committee did include Interferometry in its final report:

13. Access to O/IR interferometry should also be publicly available, and the System should provide a funding support structure to enhance the efficiency and user base commensurate with the promise of recent advances in interferometric techniques and results. In the short term, partnership with existing or developing facilities is encouraged. (Section IV.B)

Another splinter meeting was held in June 2008 at the SPIE conference in Marseille on Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation.

Decadal White Paper Draft 1 : First, and incomplete, draft of a white paper intended for the Decadal Review Committee (based on speculation as to what the decadal might actually request or accept). We continued to discuss ways we might approach the Decadal Review Panel. A link to the web page concerning the Panel is http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bpa/Astro2010.html

A breakout meeting was held at the winter 2009 AAS meeting. The slides shown by the new USIC chair Michelle Creech-Eakman can be found here:.

Eventually, the USIC meetings and working groups involved participation by more than 100 scientists.

A Notice of Intent was submitted on behalf of USIC to the Decadal Review on Januarary 14th 2009.

Additional News from the Decadal Survey web page:

The astro2010 decadal survey committee has released its call for
technology white papers
(http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bpa/Astro2010_Request_for_Input.html):

CALL FOR TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT WHITE PAPERS (click here):

The Committee on Astro2010 invites interested parties from the broad
community to submit white papers focusing on how development of
technologies in the upcoming decade will lead to future advances in
astronomy. White papers should be submitted to one of the four
Programmatic Prioritization Panels or in the case of technologies that may
benefit several areas, to the Programs Subcommittee. The white papers
should specifically and succinctly address how the suggested technology
studies in the decade 2010-2020 will lead to improved astronomical
activities in the future. A white paper may be submitted regardless of
whether a Notice of Interest was submitted on behalf of the activity.
Submissions in response to this call MUST BE MADE between 12:01 a.m. EST,
Monday, March 2 and 11:59 p.m., Sunday, March 29. ALL SUBMITTED WHITE PAPERS WILL BE MADE PUBLIC.

The call is here:
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bpa/Astro2010_Call_for_Technology_Development_White_Papers.pdf

Building the White Papers and Proposals

When the Decadal (now called Astro2010) process and schedule came out, it proved to have short fuses on just about every step. At this point USIC benefited enormously from having begun community discussions two years ago, and having formed working groups nearly a year ago.

Science White papers

Members of the interferometry community contributed 6 white papers focused on science enabled by interferometry - only one of these was formally signed by USIC. A further 18 papers mention contributions from ground-based optical interferometry while 62 (nearly 20% of the total) cite the need for ground or space optical/infrared interferometry (see http://usic.wikispaces.com/ASTRO2010+White+Papers for details).

State of the Profession Position Paper

The USIC prepared and submitted a policy paper, reviewing the critical need for operations support for and community access to ground-based arrays, and proposing a new funding opportunity, perhaps similar to the NSF University Radio Observatory grants program, with a suggested funding level of $6M/year (see http://usic.wikispaces.com/ASTRO2010+White+Papers for details). This position paper included an endorsement page signed by representatives of the US Ground-based interferometer facilities. An additional three Position papers mentioned O/IR ground-based interferometry - those of Akeson, Frogel and Silva.

Technology Paper

The USIC worked with volunteers from the community to prepare a description of technology opportunities in interferometry, and to propose a funding profile that could support them in the coming decade (see http://usic.wikispaces.com/ASTRO2010+White+Papers for details). This paper was submitted on March 31, 2009.

Proposed Activity Paper

The USIC prepared a response to the "Request for Information from Activities", summarizing content and conclusions of the science, policy, and technology white papers, and recommending support for array operation, community access, technology development, and later in the decade, preliminary planning and conceptual design of a next generation ground-based interferometry facility (see http://usic.wikispaces.com/ASTRO2010+White+Papers for details). This paper was submitted on April 1, 2009.

Related Papers and Proposals

As mentioned above, many science white papers mentioned O/IR interferometry, and many others mentioned space interferometry or space interferometric astrometry. Science and Activity papers were also prepared for Intensity Interferometry.