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Report of the ESA-ESO working group on Galactic Populations, Chemistry and Dynamics

Report of the ESA-ESO working group on Galactic Populations, Chemistry and Dynamics

Publication date: 02 May 2008

Journal: ESA-ESO Working Group Report
Year: 2008

Copyright: ESA, ESO

The main task of this Working Group has been to review the state-of-the art knowledge of the Milky Way galaxy, to identify the future challenges, and to propose which tools (in terms of facilities, infrastructures, instruments, science policies) would be needed to successfully tackle and solve the remaining open questions. Considering the leadership position that Europe has reached in the field of Galactic astronomy (thanks to the Hipparcos mission and the Very Large Telescope) and looking at the (near-)future major initiatives it has undertaken (VISTA and VST survey telescopes, Gaia mission), this work clearly has been very timely. It is of uttermost importance for European astronomy to keep and further consolidate its leading position. This Working Group has made recommendations that would allow dissecting our backyard laboratory, the Galaxy, even further. ESO survey telescopes about to become operational and the upcoming ESA Gaia mission are a guarantee for opening new horizons and making new discoveries. We, the astronomers, with the support of our funding agencies, are ready to fully commit to the best exploitation of the treasure that is ahead of us. The main recommendations this Working Group has made to ESA and ESO are to guarantee the expected tremendous capabilities of these new facilities, to vigourously organise their synergies and to jointly give ways to European astronomers to be leaders in the exploitation of their output data.

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