FY 2004 NSF Request: Astronomical Sciences

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Publication date: 
11 February 2003

The Bush Administration is requesting a FY 2004 increase of 13.5%, or $21.8 million, for the Astronomical Sciences Subactivity budget over the FY 2003 request. This request of $183.1 million is10.3% higher than the foundation's FY 2002 budget. As previously explained, the FY 2003 appropriations bill for the National Science Foundation has not been enacted.

Selections from the budget justification document sent to Congress follow:

"The FY 2004 Request includes $77.24 million for research and instrumentation support in the Astronomical Sciences that will advance research in cosmology and the origin and evolution of the universe, the formation of stars and planets, and particle astrophysics. A number of these activities involve interagency partnerships. A new focus on providing support for mid-scale instrumentation needs will address community priorities such as the development of adaptive optics systems for telescopes and the availability of modern, instrumented small aperture telescopes for programs of student training, research, and educational/public outreach. Support will also be provided for research and development that may lead to highly recommended new facilities such as the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) and Large-Aperture Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Through the Information Technology Research priority area, support will be provided for research and applications in databases, data mining, and high-speed computation. The Science and Technology Center (STC) for Adaptive Optics will be funded within AST in FY 2004."

Regarding national facilities, the budget document states: "FY 2004 support for national facilities totals $105.83 million, an increase of $8.90 million, and includes:

"Support for Gemini Observatory at a level of $14.20 million, an increase of $1.60 million. Both the northern and southern Gemini telescopes are now in regular science operations. The Gemini Observatory, an international partnership with six other countries, and the premier optical/infrared facility available to the entire U.S. astronomical community, remains the highest priority among our optical and infrared facilities. Included in this amount is $1.0 million for partial return of the Chilean construction capital, with which the U.S. assumes a portion of the Chilean share of the Observatory, gaining increased observing access for U.S. astronomers. "NAIC will be supported at the level of $10.30 million, an increase of $1.30 million. This level of support will enable continued operation and maintenance of the renovated Arecibo telescope and the development of instrumentation to take advantage of its greater sensitivity. Additional support of $1.80 million is provided through the Geosciences Activity.

"Support for NOAO/NSO at the level of $38.60 million, an increase of $2.90 million. NOAO provides optical/infrared observational facilities to the U.S. astronomical community in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and operates the U.S. Gemini Science Center, which provides support for U.S. astronomers to use the Gemini Observatory. NOAO is leading the community effort to establish a detailed scientific justification and conceptual design for the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT) and the Large-Aperture Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), both of which were highly recommended future facilities in recent community reports. NSO facilities provide solar telescopes for use by the U.S. astronomical community. Activities in FY 2004 include continued design and planning for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), an instrument that will use new techniques such as adaptive optics to provide a unique capability for investigating a wide range of important questions in solar physics. ATST will be of significant value to studies in atmospheric sciences and space weather in addition to astronomical research. Included also within this amount is $4.0 million for the Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP), which is administered for the community through NOAO. TSIP, which began in FY 2002, is a program to unify the privately held and the national optical and IR observatory facilities through a program of support for instrument development and facility improvement in exchange for public access to private facilities.

"NRAO is supported at the level of $42.73 million, an increase of $3.10 million. This level of support will provide for operations, maintenance, and instrumentation for the unique telescopes of NRAO, such as the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array. Activities in FY 2004 include making continued improvements and enhancements to the expanded VLA and optimization of science operations of the Byrd Telescope."

For additional information on NSF's Astronomical Sciences FY 2004 budget request, see http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/bud/fy2004/toc.htm .

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