History of the Science Working Group

The Science Working Group (SWG) was originally formed by ESO in December 2005 as one of five mixed community-ESO working groups (the other four being concerned with Instrumentation Design, Telescope Design, Adaptive Optics Systems and Site Evaluation). The work of these groups was required as crucial input to the Baseline Reference Design. Specifically, they were charged

  • to synthesize and collate ELT capabilities in the specified topic area, noting existing community studies and ongoing efforts;
  • to propose a basis for prioritising capabilities in the specified topic area, a list of key trade-offs and an initial prioritisation of ELT capabilities;
  • to conduct an initial meeting in January 2006 and a concluding meeting in February 2006;
  • to submit a report of sythesized requirements to ESO's Director-General by 28 February 2006;
and the SWG in particular was charged
  • to categorize science aims according to the related capabilities of an ELT and its instruments: field, pixel size, spectral resolution, multiplex capabilities and complementarity with other facilities.
As a result of this work in April 2006 the SWG produced its first report.

Later, in May 2006, the SWG merged with the OPTICON networking activity to further develop the science case for E-ELT and to provide scientific input to the E-ELT project. The group remained in place as a sub-committee of the ESO ELT Science and Engineering (ESE) Working Group, which was itself a sub-committee of the ESO Scientific Technical Committee (STC). The new charge to the SWG was

  • to monitor and advise the ESO-ELT programme, and to advise ESE and the ESO Director General on all scientific aspects of the development of E-ELT;
  • to develop the science case and justification for the E-ELT;
  • to stimulate discussions and interactions with the ESO community at large concerning the E-ELT and its scientific performance.

In the period 2006 – 2012 the 19 members of the SWG held 31 meetings and teleconferences. With the project entering its construction phase the SWG was disbanded after its final meeting in February 2012.