Gravitational Wave-Electromagnetic Counterpart Task Force (GW-EM TF)
On 17 December 2019, the Gravitational Wave-Electromagnetic Counterpart Task Force (GW-EM TF) released its final report [PDF].
NASA HQ Astrophysics Division created the GW-EM TF to assess NASA's role in Gravitational Wave Electromagnetic Counterpart (GW-EM) astrophysics, particularly EM observations of LIGO sources, and the optimization thereof for present and planned missions.
The Task Force leveraged off the work of the Multi-Messenger Astrophysics Science Analysis Group (MMA SAG). While the MMA SAG looks at science goals achievable in the next decade and more, the GW-EM TF is nearer-term, focusing specifically on NASA's role in the EM prompt and follow-up observations of events detected by LIGO and the future LIGO A+.
Tasks of the Task Force
The NASA GW-EM Task Force was tasked with the following specific activities:
- For the currently operating NASA missions, assess:
- Their current contributions, or potential for contributions, to GW-EM Astrophysics
- Obstacles and barriers that need to be addressed for their optimal use including Mission operations, observations, data access, analysis, and interpretation of the data
- Existing gaps in either/both present and planned facilities and operations
- For present and future operations, identify:
- A protocol to optimize the use of NASA's capabilities in EM followups of LIGO and LIGO A+ sources
- How this protocol might change over time as more GW events are found and extensive campaigns on individual mergers are replaced by studies of merger populations
- Identify top-level needed capabilities for the distant (>10 yrs) future, in light of anticipated GW-EM science drivers and present and future NASA missions.
- Identify specific actions to explore the feasibility of such capabilities (e.g., forming study teams).
- Identify near- and long-term practices NASA should adopt to optimize GW-EM return from its missions (e.g., R&A, archives format, etc.).
Address ways to improve or increase interagency collaboration between NASA and NSF.