The Joint Committee on Space Astronomy (JCSA) met at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) in Saint-Hubert, QC on Dec. 8th-9th, 2005. Dr. Paul Charbonneau (U. de Montréal), Dr. David Naylor (JCSA chair, U. of Lethbridge), Dr. Samar Safi-Harb (U. of Manitoba), Dr. Douglas Scott (former JCSA chair, U. of British Columbia) attended the meeting. Dr. Marten Van Kerkwijk (U. of Toronto) participated to the meeting remotely from U. of Toronto by the mean of videoconferencing. Dr. Alain Berinstain, Dr. Jean Dupuis, Dr. David Kendall, Dr. Denis Laurin and Mr. Alain Ouellet represented the CSA during this meeting.
Dr. Kendall gave a status on the current situation at CSA in view of the recent resignation of former CSA president Marc Garneau. He is strongly encouraging members of the Canadian astronomical community to start thinking ahead on what might be the next major Space Astronomy projects which Canada could initiate or be a major partner within the next ten years. Such projects should be identified as soon as possible so that they can be put on CSA radar screen for funding. CSA is planning to organize a community wide workshop on space astronomy that should serve as a platform to promote future initiatives. JCSA has for action to help fix a date for the space astronomy workshop. Dr. Kendall is also strongly encouraging the community to communicate with CSA and provide feedback so that we can identify our strengths and weaknesses. Some concerns were expressed on the relations between CSA and NSERC and how to better harmonize the funding provided by the two organizations to space astronomy projects. A major action item of this meeting was for CSA and JCSA to contact NSERC to further discuss these issues.
Dr. Laurin presented an update about upcoming Announcements of Opportunity (A0) to be issued in space astronomy by CSA. A general Planetary Exploration and Space Astronomy (PESA) AO will be released for support and advanced studies. It was decided that once the AO will be ready, it will be posted on CSA website such that the JCSA and the general community will be able to provide comments. A new AO for discipline working groups was also described and received positively by the JCSA. The discipline working groups would have for goals to increase communication between the Canadian astronomical community and CSA, and of strengthening the community in key fields of expertise of space astronomy.
The JCSA reviewed all of the currently active space astronomy projects and missions supported by CSA (BLAST, CADC, FUSE, Herschel SPIRE and HIFI, JWST, MOST, PLACK LFI and HFI, and UVIT) and issued recommendations for each of them. The JCSA appreciated the complex negotiations that were required between CSA and NASA to maintain the tunable filter imager part of the Canadian contribution to the JWST (currently the largest space astronomy project funded by CSA) and is very thankful to all of the individuals involved. Plans for future initiatives currently of interest to the community (BRITE, DUNE/SNAP, NuSTAR, SPIDER, and EBEX) were also discussed at length by the JCSA. It was suggested that CSA should consider releasing a small payload AO that could accommodate some of the projects proposed by the community. The possibility of added funding for the ODIN mission was also discussed.
Membership to JCSA was also discussed but no new members have been selected during the course of the meeting. The JCSA has for action to contact individuals that volunteered to give them an update on the situation and to approach other astronomers with a record of involvement with space astronomy to become JCSA member.