NSF Program Update

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee May 16, 2005

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations

Small Initiatives:
–National Virtual Observatory (NVO) - Framework development funded; discussion with NASA planning long-term support through joint solicitation; Cyber funds in ’06 and beyond? –Laboratory Astrophysics program - funded in grants program, strongly represented in FY2004 proposals and awards; substantial cofunding with chemistry and physics divisions –Theory support – MPS Theory Workshop; science opportunities, modes of support, education and training issues - ~30% of grants are for theory, no need for separate theory program in AST

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations

Small Initiatives:
–National Virtual Observatory (NVO) - Framework development funded –Laboratory Astrophysics program - funded in grants program, examined by AAAC –Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) - D&D funded –Theory postdoc program - funded through AAPF program –SOLIS expansion

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations

Moderate Initiatives:
–Telescope System Instrument Program (TSIP) - funded –Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST)* –Square Kilometer Array technology development (SKA)* –Combined Array for Research in Mm-wave Astronomy (CARMA) funded –VERITAS - funded –Frequency Agile Solar Radio Telescope (FASR) –South Pole Sub-millimeter Telescope - funded in NSF/OPP (* = Design/Development)

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations

Major Initiatives:
–Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) - funded – Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) - technology development funded under Adaptive Optics Roadmap* –Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) - Phase I - funded – Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) - development on detector arrays funded* (* = Design/Development)

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations
In the Planning stages:
–Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) –Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) –EVLA Phase II –Frequency Agile Solar Radio Telescope (FASR) –Square Kilometer Array technology development

Status of Decadal Survey Recommendations

“US Ground-based O/IR facilities should be viewed … as a single integrated system drawing on both federal and nonfederal funding sources”
- TSIP and Systems Workshops - AURA/CELT partnership for GSMT - LSST Corporation

Status of Quarks to Cosmos recommendations

– CMB Polarization measurement - CMB Research Task Force – LSST - detector development funded – Underground laboratory - NSF Physics phased approach – Southern Auger array - funded – Interagency initiative on Physics of the Universe

Physics of the Universe Interagency Plan

Highest priority, ready – LSST
– S-Z effect - coordinated NSF/NASA effort - CMB Research Task Force – Dark Energy Task Force being formed under AAAC and HEPAP – Underground facility – Strengthen numerical relativity research - planned in Physics – Upgrade of LIGO - approved by NSB for new start

GSMT Planning
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National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Science Working Group has formulated a detailed science case. Consortium formed to undertake an extensive technology development and site characterization effort. Would result in a public-private partnership with private funds supporting approximately 50% of the $70M estimated cost; proposal to NSF for the remaining 50%. Public funds would support community effort in several major groups. Current estimate is that this effort would take five to seven years. Proposal under review. NSF and consortium have met as a group and individually to discuss timing and continue a constructive dialogue Funds in FY2005 appropriation limited; similar for FY2006; Planned growth awaits outcome of Senior Review

LSST Planning

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National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Science Working Group formulated detailed science case. LSST Corporation established. Pan-STARRS underway in Hawaii with DoD funding. No operations money at all and insufficient resources for software NSF provided $1.3M in FY03 for detector development for LSST Camera; NOAO is funding telescope design at roughly $1.7M/year. DOE labs have expressed strong interest in participating in the project through provision of the camera. DOE science budget a problem? Technology development program and possible architecture studies planned in FY2005, FY2006 (Physics of the Universe)

The Advanced Technology Solar Telescope

The ATST Project

The Telescope

Improvements over current state of the art: • Resolution – ~7X improvement • Light grasp – 10X improvement (solar physics is actually photon starved in some experiments) Technical Specifications: • 4-m, off-axis Gregorian (all reflective), alt-az mount. • Integrated adaptive optics. • Hybrid enclosure with thermal control and dust mitigation. • Wavelength sensitivity from 0.3-28 microns (nearUV through thermal infrared). • Field of view: 3 arcminutes (5 arcminute goal). • Angular resolution < 0.03 arcsecond. • Polarization accuracy < 0.01%. ATST will be the world’s flagship facility for ground-based solar physics observation and the first large US solar telescope constructed in the past 30 years.

Marching toward MREFC
• ATST team had planned aggressively for an FY06 start of construction. This will not happen. • Additional funding will be required to pay marching army and produce final design (note that current MREFC rules preclude funding design from MREFC). AST will fund through FY06 (FY07). • The next steps:  ATST and AST craft development plan for FY05-6.  Site selection complete – contract for environmental impact study  Preliminary design reviews.  Brought to MREFC panel in March 2005; awaiting action  In-depth cost review endorsed costing models  Attempt to address critical path items – early procurement of primary mirror.  Let contracts for final design to design and engineering firms.  Complete Project Execution Plan.  Final design review in early 2006.  Construction begins in fall of 2006/2007.

Planning (Activity Accelerating)
O/IR roadmap team convened by NOAO well underway  Radio/mm/sub-mm convened by AUI underway  CMB Roadmap  Dark Energy Task Force

ATST Near Term




Intermediate Term

Horizon Facilities


Astronomy Division Budget - FY2004

AST Budget FY2004 - $196.55M

Res & Inst. $71.8M

Facilities $124.75M

ALMA $50.7 M

Astronomy Division Budget - FY2004
Facilities - $124.75 M
National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) National Solar Observatory (NSO) Gemini Observatory National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) National Astronomy & Ionosphere Center (NAIC) $10.56 M University Radio Observatories
=================================================================== _______________

$34.4 M
(excludes $4M for TSIP $3M for AODP)

$14.27 M $54.98 M (directed) $10.54 M

$50.7 M Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA)

Astronomy Division Budget - FY2004
Astronomy Research & Instrumentation - $71.8 M
Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grants (AAG) Particle Astrophysics Education & Special Programs (ESP)
 CAREER, REU, Postdoctoral fellowships

Advanced Technologies & Instrumentation (ATI) Electromagnetic Spectrum Management (ESM) Science & Technology Centers (STC)
 Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO)

NSF/MPS Priorities and programs
 e.g. ITR, Math Sciences, Biocomplexity in the Environment

FY2005 Budget and Outlook
• FY2005 AST request level - $204.35M (increase of 4% over FY2004) • “Final” AST number $195.1M (< FY2004 - $196.6M) • FY2006 Request $198.64M (FY2005 + 1.81%) • Planning level budgets for next ? years • Closer coupling between NSF and NASA budgets in difficult years? • Changes in appropriations committee structure

AST Budget FY1992-2004
AST Budget FY1992-2004

$250,000 Total Facilities Res & Instr.


$ (Thousands)




$0 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 Fiscal Year 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

How can we afford it?
NSF Budget Authority Projection

Proposals and studies will sharpen cost Planning will provide phasing, decision points, down-selects Overall plan must meet fiscal reality How?

$5.80 $5.60 Billions of Dollars $5.40 $5.20 $5.00 $4.80 $4.60 $4.40 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Fiscal Year

“Senior Review”

Responds to:  Decade Survey recommendation re: facilities  Calls for examination of balance in AST portfolio (Committee of Visitors, Feb) Made imperative by:  Budget outlook  Ambitions of the community  AST budget growth

“Senior Review”

AST retreat
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Established understanding of need and goals Self-examination of balance Identified issues that NSF and community must address First time this has been undertaken by AST IF significant progress is to be made on development of major recommendations, ~~$30M of free energy in AST budget must be identified. Implications for program may be profound Balance: grants program (AAG) must be held sacrosanct Free energy will come from non-AAG portion of AST portfolio

AST retreat “conclusions”

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Next Steps  Letter sent to facilities – component costs and metrics due 7/31
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AST exploring implications of all issues identified Will frame options along with best understanding of consequences, positive and negative Will convene community representatives (Sept/October) to advise on best option(s) (or identify others).

Senior Review Parameters

The primary goal of the review and the resultant adjustment of balance that will result is to enable progress on the recommendations of the Decade Survey, including such things as operations funds for ALMA, and other priorities. At the same time we must preserve, indeed grow, a healthy core program of astronomical research

Boundary Conditions
The assumption is that the AST budget will grow no faster than inflationary increases for the remainder of the decade In concert with the advice of every community advisory body that we have asked (and in keeping with our own evaluation of balance and need), we will not use resources from the unrestricted grants programs (AAG) to address the challenges of facility operations or the design and development costs for new facilities of the scale of LSST, GSMT, SKA, etc.

The process and the adjustments in balance that may result must be realistic and realizable Recommendations should be based on well-understood criteria There should be ample opportunity for community input at all stages.


The specific goal of the review is to examine the impact and the gains we might experience by redistributing $30M of annual spending from Division funds. These funds would be obtained by selective reductions in the operations of existing facilities. The near-term needs for new investment have lead us to conclude that we must try to generate the $30M in annual redistributed funding by the end of FY2011. Even with this, there will be challenges to be met to satisfy projected need in FY2007-2008.

Zero-based Approach

In order to treat each of NRAO, NOAO, NSO, and Gemini on an equal footing and to obtain an in-depth understanding of the contributions that each of our facilities makes, component by component, we are adopting a “zero-base” approach. Under this approach, we ask that AUI consider and document:

The case for, and priority of, each component of NRAO (VLA, VLBA, GBT, ALMA operations, etc.), along with a defensible cost for each. • In doing so, build the case for a forward-looking observatory operation, the highest priority components of which would exist in 2011 • Provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the cost and timescale that would be associated with divestiture of each component

We expect that your deliberations will: • • Be based on extensive consultation with your user community Involve evaluation of component facilities and capabilities using well-defined and carefully documented metrics to define productivity, cost effectiveness, and future utility. We will work with all facilities managers to arrive at a common set of metrics so various components can be compared. Take into consideration systemic issues such as complementing observations at other wavelengths, filling critical niches in the overall U.S. system, role in training and technical innovation. Explore opportunities to deliver scientific knowledge at reduced cost or increased efficiency through new operating modes

AST Action

With this information in hand from all of the facilities that we support, and with our best understanding of the needs for development and future programs, we will then present a number of scenarios to the senior review committee for their comment and advice. These scenarios will necessarily trade progress on the various recommendations before us against preservation of existing capability. The challenge will be to strike an acceptable balance.

The Question

We recognize that this will be a difficult task and that the end result may well be that some facilities are judged to be no longer viable under the circumstances. We also recognize that the landscape of U.S. astronomy could almost certainly change dramatically as a result of some these actions. The question for all of us is to judge whether these changes are viable and lead to a vital and sustainable future, or whether the pace and scope of change necessary to realize the cumulative aspirations of the community under severely constrained budgets are too drastic

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