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Astro2020: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey

Latest Astro2020 News

  • 5 Nov. 2021: US Extremely Large Telescope Program Supports Vision of Decadal Survey

The decadal survey for astronomy and astrophysics is a powerful study that our community uses to drive strategy and vision for the next decade of federally funded transformative science. The 2020 report, Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s (Astro2020), was published by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on 4 November 2021. We are honored that the community, via the decadal survey, has ranked the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) as the highest ground-based priority in Pathways to Discovery. Read more.

  • 4 Nov. 2021: TMT’s Statement on Astro2020 Decadal Survey

Henry Yang, Board Chair, Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory, issued the following statement in response to today’s release of the Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s Decadal Survey:
“The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), an international collaboration, thanks the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine for its thorough work to prioritize the next decade’s astronomy and astrophysics projects and programs. We are grateful for the science community’s support for our project, and acknowledge it is just one step in a process. We will review the full report carefully and evaluate our next steps."

  • 4 Nov. 2021: Astro2020 Decadal Survey Released
Today, the National Academies released the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020) with its recommendations for implementing a strategy and vision for the coming decade of U.S. Astronomy & Astrophysics frontier research.
Below is a statement from the US-Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) of which the Thirty Meter Telescope, the Giant Magellan Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab) are partners. Its mission is to strengthen scientific leadership by the U.S. community-at-large through access to extremely large telescopes in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, which will cover 100 percent of the night sky.
The US Extremely Large Telescope Program is grateful for the Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s Decadal Survey process and is now reviewing the recommendations in detail. The Decadal Survey has a rich history of driving technological innovation and expanding scientific boundaries, and we are proud to be part of that story. Our visionary program aims to provide US astronomers with nationally-funded observing access to the entire sky. The program consists of three partners: NSF’s NOIRLab and the two organizations building the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope. Read more.


  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine announced the release of the Decadal Survey to the public on Thursday Nov. 4, 2021 at 8 am (Pacific Time).
  • Download the Public Briefing slides (PDF) from November 4, 2021


  • TMT Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet and the new US-ELTP Astro2020 brochure can be found in the updated Media Kit.
  • TMT Press Coverage for news in the media worldwide.





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An illustration of the US Extremely Large Telescope Program. Image Credit: US-ELTP/NOIRLab/TMT/GMT/NSF/AURA 


The Astro2020 Decadal Survey

What is the Decadal Survey?

Every 10 years, the U.S. National Academies of the Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convenes a survey committee and supporting study panels to carry out a Decadal Survey in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The overall goal of the Survey is to evaluate the projects and programs that will be prioritized for the coming decade. The Decadal Survey for the 2020 decade began in early 2019 and is referred to as Astro2020.

Did TMT participate in the Decadal Survey?

Yes, TMT, along with its other partners in the US-ELTP presented their science and technical readiness to athe Decadal Survey Panel in February 2020.

Which organizations sponsor the Decadal Survey?

While the survey is sponsored by NASA, NSF, and DOE, it is driven by input received by the community in the form of white papers. A total of 573 science white papers were submitted as part of Astro2020.

What does a high ranking in the Decadal Survey mean?

A high ranking in the Decadal means that a project has been identified by the science committee as a high-priority research activity for astronomy and astrophysics for the coming decade.