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Division of Astronomical Sciences Update (Life After the Senior Review). Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee 11 October 2007. Outline . Senior Review implementation Progress Concerns Interagency and AST News FY2008 and beyond. Finding 1 - The Scientific Challenge.

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division of astronomical sciences update life after the senior review

Division of Astronomical Sciences Update (Life After the Senior Review)

Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee

11 October 2007

  • Senior Review implementation
    • Progress
    • Concerns
  • Interagency and AST News
  • FY2008 and beyond
finding 1 the scientific challenge
Finding 1 - The Scientific Challenge

NSF finds this the most important conclusion of the report:

“Proper maintenance of current facilities while simultaneously developing and beginning operation of the proposed new facilities is infeasible under any reasonable expectations for federal budget support based on past funding levels. The cuts that are proposed to the existing program are as deep as possible without causing irreparable damage and will only allow a start to be made on new initiatives.”

senior review
“Senior Review”
  • Recommended changes
    • Reduce support to VLBA to $3M by FY2001, closure if sufficient outside funds not found
    • Reduce support to Arecibo/NAIC to $8M by FY2009 and to $4M in FY2011, closure if additional outside funds not found
    • Support of GONG++ to cease 1 year after successful deployment of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (unless other support forthcoming)
    • Investigate possible reductions in administrative costs, scientific staff costs, selective observatory programs and site operations
    • Shift balance of NOAO programs to provide increased access to an optimized suite of high performance telescopes of all apertures in both hemispheres
from the conclusion
From the Conclusion
  • “It should be emphasized that, in none of the proposed actions can the facilities targeted be seen as redundant to the scientific enterprise. Instead, the SR is recommending reduced AST funding or closure of some telescopes that could be unique and productive for 20 years.”
  • “These findings, which go beyond the SR’s charge, may appear defeatist to some. However, the SR developed the more optimistic view that, with patience, cooperation and wise planning, it will be possible to realize the promise of the next generation of major observatories.”
nrao transition program
NRAO Transition Program
  • Very Long Baseline Array
    • Seek partners who will contribute personnel or financial support to the operations of the VLBA by 2011.
    • Limit AST support to $3M, close if remaining costs are not found elsewhere.
  • Reduction in operating costs of GBT
  • Reduction in the cost of administrative support
  • Reductions in scientific staff costs
naic arecibo transition program
NAIC (Arecibo) Transition Program
  • Taper to $8M per year AST support over next 3 years
    • Concentrate on surveys
    • ~20% time for individual PIs
    • Assumes ATM support at ~$2M/yr continues
    • Need to consider alternate operational models
      • See cost review slides
  • Seek other sources of support for operations
  • By 2011, AST support limited to $4M. If other support not sufficient to produce a viable operational model, recommends closure.
  • Cornell plan closes planetary radar ~ Oct 2008
nso transition program
NSO Transition Program
  • NSO should:
    • organize an orderly withdrawal of personnel and resources, including the SOLIS telescope, from Kitt Peak/Tucson and Sacramento Peak and start to close down operations at these sites as soon as ATST funding begins.
    • consolidate its management and science into a single headquarters as soon as possible.
    • Support of the Global Oscillations Network Group (GONG++) project should cease one year after the successful deployment of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, unless the majority of operations support is found from other sources.
towards a national gsmt program
Towards a National GSMT Program
  • Need to assure a healthy scientific enterprise going into the GSMT era (community was heard in SR process)
    • Define the “System”
      • Appropriate range of aperture and access
      • Necessary instrumentation, maintained and supported
    • Assure that the system is robust against delays and uncertainty along the GSMT path
  • Path from development through construction and into operations, including successful partnership formation, is complex
    • Requires leadership and planning at unprecedented level at NSF
towards a national gsmt program noao s role
Towards a National GSMT ProgramNOAO’s Role
  • NSF has asked AURA/NOAO to act as NSF’s “Program Manager” for GSMT development
    • Role similar to NASA center in development of major space missions
  • Lead in defining the “system” and assuring its long-term health
  • Understand and champion national needs for a GSMT
    • National Science Working Group (Meeting 8-9 November)
    • National “Design Reference Mission” to set scientific performance expectations, operational models
  • Promote development at a pace that recognizes both private and federal timescales
  • Establish appropriate, symmetrical interfaces with TMT and GMT
developing an nsf response and implementation plan
Developing an NSF Response and Implementation Plan
  • AST is working closely with facilities to understand implications of recommendations as we consider possible implementation paths
  • NSF is active in encouraging and engaging in discussion with other possible partners in facility operations, including international partners and other funding agencies.
    • NASA for Arecibo, VLBA, GONG++
    • Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Puerto Rican Universities; local business
    • International agency meetings convened by AST
  • AST is working with the community and NOAO to determine where re-investment in existing OIR facilities should occur and in the development of an integrated and coordinated “System”
    • NOAO’s ReSTAR deliberations
developing an nsf response and implementation plan1
Developing an NSF Response and Implementation Plan
  • AST is undertaking detailed cost reviews of each observatory necessary to understand where cost reductions can be made
    • Understand operational costs, appropriate staffing levels
    • Consider other operational and business models
    • RFP has been issued; three bids likely
  • Explore costs and legal issues associated with recommendations e.g. environmental, deconstruction, divestiture, termination costs – engaging outside studies over the next year; first study is for Arecibo and first site visit just finished yesterday (report due ~ 1 Feb)
  • Now constructing the forward look - What can we accomplish as the funds become available under various budget models?
the operations challenge
The Operations Challenge
  • We have a 50 year tradition of operations that we must examine, both for now and for future facilities
  • Can current level of service be delivered for less?
    • Some opinions based on university-scale ops
    • We must understand the costs thoroughly
    • Answer may well be, “No”
  • Do we need to look at different service models?
    • Changes similar to those at NAIC may be necessary at all AST facilities
    • Facilities managers and NSF must have an open dialogue
      • Domenici press release, e.g., is not a healthy reaction
ast concerns
AST Concerns
  • Apparent short half-life of community attention
    • Many rumors
    • Statements indicating report not read/assimilated
    • AST met with community leaders in Chicago and jointly crafted “Dear Colleague” letter recently circulated by AAS
  • Increasing political pressure and interference with science community-based process and plan.
    • Budget doubling removes need for Senior Review and invalidates conclusions?
    • Growth in MREFC account can easily cover Arecibo problem?
    • Arecibo future being determined without ATM consultation?
    • Letters from members of Congress to Director
    • Bill introduced to guarantee continued support of Arecibo
good interagency news
Good Interagency News!
  • Virtual Observatory MOU signed!
    • Onward to a joint solicitation
  • Excellent interactions with both NASA and DOE
    • Joint consideration of decadal survey proposal review and structure (including OMB and OSTP)
    • Regular, fruitful discussions between AST and NASA Astrophysics Division
    • NSF AST – DOE HEP interface very effective in on-going, joint reviews, decisions, and oversight
other ast news
Other AST News
  • 2008 Committee of Visitors
    • Planning underway - John Carlstrom will chair the committee
    • Dates: 6 – 8 February
    • Consider serving if asked!
  • FY2007 Close out
    • Success rate – 24%
  • NSB declared ATST to be ready for inclusion in a future budget
charting the future
Charting the Future
  • Sine qua non
    • Healthy grants program
    • Successful completion and operation of ALMA
    • Robust support of base facilities (as defined by Senior Review)
  • Progress on GSMT, LSST, SKA → “TDPs”
  • Resources for mid-scale projects → “Mid-scale” {CMB, DETF, ExoPlanet, next Decade Survey small and moderate}
  • Models of budget outlook
looking forward to 2008 at president s request level
Looking Forward to 2008(At President’s Request Level)
  • Healthy increase (~10%) in grants program
    • Grant support for facility users under study
  • Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE, NSF 07-561)
  • New program helping young investigators start instrumentation careers (grad students, post-docs, beginning faculty)
  • Increases in ATI (30%), TSIP (25%) and UROs
  • NOAO up $2.3M to refurbish and modernize KPNO and CTIO facilities
  • NRAO up $2M for ALMA early operations
  • GSMT program at $5M and SKA TDP at $3M per year