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A magnified galaxy seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI/Saurabh Jha

Astronomers are on the edge of their seats this week, awaiting the release of a document on Thursday that will help govern the next 10 years of their field.

Why it matters: Funding agencies like NASA rely on the document — called the decadal survey — to help them decide what missions should be supported in the future.

  • The James Webb Space Telescope and Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope were prioritized in previous decadal surveys, pushing them ahead in development.

Driving the news: This decadal survey — initially expected to be released last year but delayed due to the pandemic — should be officially released to the public Thursday.

  • The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine will host a webinar at 2pm ET on Thursday to discuss the decadal after the document's release at 11am ET.

The big picture: The specifics of the report aren't yet clear, but there are a few things the astronomy community is expecting.

  • This decadal should pick a flagship mission for the space science community to prioritize.
  • Four are currently in the running and would focus on answering big questions in astronomy, like how the early universe formed and where life might exist outside of the solar system.
  • Other recommendations from the report will focus on ground-based observatories and the state of the profession itself, which has been wrestling with a history of harassment and racism in recent years.

Go deeper: Astronomy's 10-year plan

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Nov 2, 2021 - Science

Here come the private space stations

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The next space race will be defined by private companies teaming up to build space stations for NASA and industry.

Why it matters: Operation of the International Space Station is expected to end by 2030, if not before. The future of U.S. astronauts spending any time in orbit depends on these private stations.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.