It's sort of the "Academy Awards" for deep space astronomy, except it only happens once every 10 years.
Last Friday a blue-ribbon National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee released its recommendations for what types of telescopes astronomers should be building over the next decade. This offers to Congress, NASA and the National Science Foundation an exploration roadmap sanctioned by our nation's top researchers.
My colleague Nicole Gugliucci has a nice overview of the report's winners and runner-ups.
What's fascinating is that a decade ago, it would have been hard to predict what would have made it to the top of the list of cosmic mysteries now confronting astronomers.
In the 2001 NAS Decadal Survey report, the big questions were about the age, history and expansion of the universe; understanding the formation and evolution of black holes of all sizes; studying the formation of stars and their planetary systems; and understanding how the astronomical environment affects Earth. Significant inroads were made into some of these areas, or are awaiting pursuit by telescopes now under construction.