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Physics of the Cosmos News

Nominations sought for WFIRST Science Interest Group (WSIG)

29 April 2020

Dear Colleagues:

The Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate calls for nominations, including self-nominations, to serve on the WFIRST Science Interest Group (WSIG) for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (http://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov/). This group will provide broad-based community input to NASA on the WFIRST project. Its primary purpose is to assist NASA in ensuring that the interests of the scientific community are served by the WFIRST project in planning for and executing WFIRST development and operations.

Appointments will be for a period of up to three years for each selected candidate, although the terms at initiation will be staggered to provide an annual opportunity for cycling new members through the group. A reasonable effort will be made to achieve a diverse group incorporating a variety of perspectives, including science focus, demographic, institutional, and career stage present in the broader astronomical community. WSIG members are expected to represent the community's diverse views, and therefore expected to solicit actively those views from their colleagues.

WFIRST was the highest ranked large space mission in the 2010 decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics, and it will be NASA's next great observatory following the James Webb Space Telescope. The mission comprises a 2.4m space telescope with a single science instrument, a camera with a 0.281 deg2 field of view for near-IR imaging and slitless spectroscopy. It additionally features a technology demonstration instrument: a coronagraph designed for > 108 starlight suppression, which will enable unprecedented observations of nearby giant exoplanets and circumstellar disks. For wide field near-IR surveys, WFIRST is hundreds of times more efficient than the Hubble Space Telescope. The observing program includes large area and time domain legacy surveys that will provide extraordinarily rich datasets for a wide range of research investigations, in addition to meeting WFIRST's cosmology and exoplanet goals. WFIRST has completed its formulation phase and entered implementation in February 2020, and remains on schedule for launch in late 2025 or 2026.

The WSIG will provide input to the WFIRST project and NASA HQ on the structure of future science team and investigation calls; user support functions and resources across the WFIRST project; considerations for defining and conducting the science program, including time allocation; and other science needs as requested by the project or program. The WSIG shall report to the WFIRST Program Scientist and the WFIRST Project Scientist. The group is expected to meet in person two times per year, with biweekly virtual meetings as needed. Agendas of meetings shall be posted well in advance of meetings to encourage input from the community at any time.

Nominations, including self-nominations, for the WSIG should be submitted via email to alicia.m.penny@nasa.gov. Nominations must include both a cover letter and a one-page curriculum vitae together in a single PDF file. The cover letter should provide a description of the nominee's relevant WFIRST-related interests and qualifications for service on the WSIG. The CV should summarize the nominee's relevant background and area(s) of expertise. Familiarity with space missions or astronomical instrumentation is not a prerequisite for the WSIG, as the group's successful functioning depends on a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints. The deadline for receipt of nominations is May 29, 2020, with announcement of appointments anticipated by June 2020. For further information, please contact Dominic Benford (dominic.j.benford@nasa.gov), Jeff Kruk (jeffrey.w.kruk@nasa.gov) and/or Julie McEnery (julie.e.mcenery@nasa.gov).

Nominations will only be accepted for scientists who reside at a U.S. institution for the period of the service, and are not currently members of the WFIRST project science staff or on the WFIRST Formulation Science Working Group. There is no restriction on citizenship.

We look forward to working with all of our stakeholders to continue a robust and compelling WFIRST mission.


Jeff Kruk (WFIRST Project Scientist)
Julie McEnery (Deputy WFIRST Project Scientist) and
Dominic Benford (WFIRST Program Scientist)

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