Short Forum Report on “Ground and Space Astronomy: Challenges and Synergies” (18–19 November 2021)

by A. Gimenez and J. Wambsganss

The ISSI Forum on “Ground and Space Astronomy: Challenges and Synergies” took place on November 18 and 19, 2021, at ISSI in Bern. The rationale behind this topic is the fact that the achievement of the scientific objectives of many space missions and many ground-based surveys are more and more relying on the combination of space data with ground-based observations. This is the case of ESA space missions aiming at the characterization of extrasolar planets, like Plato, but also in galactic studies, like Gaia, or cosmological missions, like Euclid.

At this ISSI Forum, 25 international experts met in order to discuss these new challenges; most of them could participate physically in Bern and around 20% joined online to mitigate the problems of travel for non-European participants in the current pandemic situation. Underlying questions were: Which scientific topic can advance best with the combination of space and ground data, simultaneous or at least contemporary? How can data be archived and made accessible in the best way for all users? Which process should be followed in the selection of missions and ground facilities to ensure their complementarity, keeping their independent committees, priorities and competitiveness?

Four keynote talks on the “Science view” (by E. van Dishoeck), on the “Space-based view” (by F. Favata), on the “Ground-based view” (by B. Leibundgut), and on the “Exoplanet view” (by W. Benz) formed the backbone of the Forum. In addition, three special contributions were given on the Japanese experience (by S. Miyazaki, online), the Gaia experience (by T. Prusti) and the US perspective (by S. Kahn). Additional short contributions were presented as part of the discussions.

The most important and interesting part of the Forum were the lively discussions, including online participants despite the different time zones. These discussions gave a very broad and comprehensive view of the challenges and synergies of collaboration between ground and space astronomy. Technical aspects were addressed but also “cultural” differences among the scientific communities, and particularly the programmatic challenges.

At the end of the Forum, it was felt that this “kick-off” should be followed by suitable further activities, within IAU and COSPAR. These are already being prepared for their corresponding assemblies in 2022.

A larger and more detailed report on this Forum is in preparation.