Shaping ESO2020+ Together: Feedback from the Community Poll
Magazine article, 2015
A thorough evaluation and prioritisation of the ESO science programme into the 2020+ timeframe took place under the auspices of a working group, comprising astronomers drawn from ESO’s advisory structure and from within ESO. This group reported to ESO’s Scientific Technical Committee, and to ESO Council, concluding the exercise with the publication of a report, “Science Priorities at ESO”. A community poll and a dedicated workshop, held in January 2015, formed part of the information gathering process. The community poll was designed to probe the demographics of the user community, its scientific interests, use of observing facilities and plans for use of future telescopes and instruments, its views on types of observing programmes and on the provision of data processing and archiving. A total of 1775 full responses to the poll were received and an analysis of the results is presented here. Foremost is the importance of regular observing programmes on all ESO observing facilities, in addition to Large Programmes and Public Surveys. There was also a strong community requirement for ESO to process and archive data obtained at ESO facilities. Other aspects, especially those related to future facilities, are more challenging to interpret because of biases related to the distribution of science expertise and favoured wavelength regime amongst the targeted audience. The results of the poll formed a fundamental component of the report and pro-vide useful data to guide the evolution of ESO’s science programme.