Since 2019, the three Program Offices prioritize Astrophysics technology gaps biennially, in a uniform process.
- Technologists and scientists from the three Program Offices divide the gaps between the Programs, based on which Program’s science goals would be most strongly affected by closing each gap.
- No gap is prioritized by more than one Program, but if and when appropriate, different versions of the same gap may be prioritized by different Programs under different names and with different requirements.
- The three Program Offices follow the same schedule for soliciting, prioritizing, and publishing technology gaps.
- The three Program-specific prioritization exercises involve technologists, scientists, engineers, and other subject matter experts from all three Program Offices and the NASA Astrophysics Division (APD), using identical prioritization criteria:
- Strategic Alignment (addressing all Astrophysics missions and mission concepts)
- Benefits and Impacts (addressing all Astrophysics science needs and goals)
- Urgency (addressing the margin between an estimated time needed to close the gap and the need-by date)
- Scope of Applicability (addressing the number and strategic priority, if any, of Astrophysics missions and concepts that could benefit from closing the gap
- Following completion of the three exercises, technologists from the three Program Offices together merge the three Program-specific lists into a single Astrophysics technology gap priority list. This list is then reviewed by the teams that conducted the prioritization exercises, and then submitted to APD and published in the Astrophysics Biennial Technology Report (ABTR).
The 2019 Technology Gap Prioritization
This cycle, the Program Offices assessed a total of 78 technology gaps. These gaps received from the general community (whether this cycle or carried over from 2017) were reviewed and edited by the relevant Program Analysis Groups (PAGs) if and as needed. The resulting lists were then consolidated with the gap lists submitted by the four large-mission-concept Science and Technology Definition Teams (STDTs). Next, technologists and scientists from the three Program Offices allocated each gap to the Program whose science would be most impacted by closing that gap.
The three Program Offices each prioritized their gaps using a uniform set of criteria, weightings, and guidelines. During this process, some gaps with similar goals were merged, as appropriate. Technologists from the three Program Offices participated in each of the three prioritizations, to provide the most comprehensive knowledge base possible and to ensure uniformity in how gaps were treated across the three Programs. Finally, the three lists were merged into the final joint Astrophysics Technology Gap Priority list of 48 gaps.