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NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences . AAAC October 15-16, 2009 Craig Foltz. Summary. AST Budget Overview Retrospective look FY 2009 & ARRA Looking forward Status of Senior Review implementation Changes in AST Recent Activities and Actions. MPS Budget trends .

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NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences


October 15-16, 2009

Craig Foltz

Summary l.jpg

  • AST Budget Overview

    • Retrospective look

    • FY 2009 & ARRA

    • Looking forward

    • Status of Senior Review implementation

  • Changes in AST

  • Recent Activities and Actions

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AST Budget trends

10 year doubling

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FY 2009 Budget Plan & FY 2010 Budget Request

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FY2009 spending(including American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, ARRA)

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ARRA Funding

  • As shown, roughly 2/3 for grants and 1/3 for overdue facility infrastructure improvements and preconstruction activities.

  • Quite strong restrictions; some suggested spending not permitted; funds bring additional reporting requirements.

  • Success rate in research grants program (AAG) rose from last year’s 21% to a healthy 36%.

  • Risk exaggerated: even if all awards were 3 years (they weren’t) and all of them came back in exactly 3 years (which they won’t), only a 15% increase, which we have seen and handled before.

  • Yes, the funding rate will not be this high in future.

  • Increases for CAREER (low success rate anyway) and Graduate Research Fellowships.

  • Infrastructure improvements long overdue but the problem persists.

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FY 2010 Budget Request

AST Total: $250.8 M (increase of 10% over FY 2009)

  • Facilities: $141 M (56%)

    • Gemini - $19.1 M

    • NAIC - $8.4 M

    • NOAO - $27.5 M

    • NSO - $9.1 M

    • NRAO - $67.1 M

    • UROs - $10 M

  • Research and Education Grants: $110 M total (44%)

    • Roughly $45M for AAG; $37 M for instrumentation;

    • $25 M for special programs (AAPF, CAREER, REU, Cyberinfrastructure, NSF-wide, etc)

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Budget Projections?

Administration, congressional support for NSF budget doubling over 10 years.

How will AST fare in this growth?

Administration priorities not well aligned with AST:

  • “Green” energy

  • Climate change

  • Short term economic recovery

    But historically AST has tracked NSF R&RA quite well

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AST Budget trends

NSF projection

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Status of Senior Review Recommendations

  • VLBA - non-AST funding for 50% of VLBA operations or closure.

    • NRAO pursuing partnerships, prospects look very good

  • GONG++ - non-AST support of operations or termination, one year after successful SDO commissioning.

    • NSO pursuing partnership with US Air Force Weather Agency

  • Carry out cost reviews of all facilities

    • Completed by external firm, report in hand, will be working with observatories to institute (minor) cost savings over next years

  • NAIC (next slide)

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National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC)

  • Recommendation to ramp budget down to $8M by 2010, $4M in following years. Seek non-AST support to maintain operations or closure

    • NSF Atmospheric Sciences increasing contribution to operations

  • NSF (AST, ATM) will compete the next cooperative agreement for the management and operation of NAIC.

    • Recommendations of the 2006 AST Senior Review are being factored into planning.

    • NSF expects to issue a detailed program solicitation in fall 2009, with full proposals due six months following publication.

    • Expected to lead to the award of a single, five-year cooperative agreement for the management and operation of NAIC for 2011-2015.

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Changes in AST

  • FY2009 was a remarkably unusual year.

  • The Division of Astronomical Sciences has been without a full-time Division Director for 18 months.

  • We have been without an Deputy Division Director for 4 months.

  • We have an open permanent PO position.

  • We have a rotator leaving this month, a year before anticipated.

  • Since there was no back-fill, we will soon be short 3-4 Program Officers. The added strain of ARRA was clearly felt.

  • Interviews for DD and DDD are later this month but the most optimistic start is January 2010, probably significantly later.

  • Permanent PO hiring has closed; IPA is now open (until November 20).

  • New management can change the division’s direction.

  • Limited staff lack the leisure for planning.

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Recent Activities and Actions

  • NRAO Cooperative Agreement with AUI extended for five years.

  • NOAO Cooperative Agreement with AURA extended for 54 months.

  • NSO now has its own Cooperative Agreement, also with AURA for 54 months.

  • Gemini partnership in flux. May have budgetary consequences.

  • MRI R2 and ARI proposals (both ARRA) under review.

  • ATST FDR and NSB action.

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NSB Approval of ATST Construction

On August 6, 2009, the National Science Board approved an award to be derived from $146,000,000 of ARRA funds and $151,928,000 of appropriated MREFC funds, in accordance with the following resolution:

RESOLVED, that the National Science Board authorizes the Director at his discretion to issue an eight-year award to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for a not-to-exceed amount of $297,928,000 for the construction of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. This award will be contingent upon the publication of a record of decision authorizing the commencement of construction.

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Construction Cost Estimate (cont.)

  • Costs are in spent-year dollars calculated with current OMB escalators.

  • 32.9% contingency – based on Monte Carlo simulations for 95% confidence.

  • Includes effect of mitigation of impact on Hawaiian Dark-Rumped Petrel, “Buy American” costs, management of National Park Special Use Permit, etc.

  • Does not include costs associated with cultural mitigation.

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ATST Schedule Overview

Proposed Site Decision



NSF Cost Review


MREFC “Readiness”

MREFC Panel “Exit Readiness Review”

Technology Development

Concept & Design


Site EIS Process

FDR/Baseline Review


Site Construction

NSF Panel


IT & C




Feb 27, 2007

December 4, 2008






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Environmental and Cultural Compliance

  • Comprehensive site selection was based on site characteristics derived from flow-down from science drivers. 72 sites studied. Final site selected at Haleakala High Altitude Observatory (U. Hawaii), Maui. Haleakala is the only site that meets the requirements.

  • Environmental Review and Permitting process for site:

    • Final EIS submitted to EPA on July 24, 2009; published on July 31.

    • EIS is 3116 pages long; cost >$3M.

    • Application for building permit (state of Hawaii process) underway; University of Hawaii leads.

    • More than thirty National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultations resulted in draft programmatic agreement currently under negotiation.

  • Record of Decision in development. This will complete compliance requirements.

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The Geographical Context

Pu’u ’Ula’ula

ATST Alternate



Pu’u Kolekole


Mauna Kea


ATST Primary