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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics Board on Physics and Astronomy and Space Studies Board Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. Support for this project was provided by Contract NASW 96013 and Contract Grant No. AST-9632185 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation, respectively. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. International Standard Book Number 0-309-07139-9 Additional copies of this report are available from National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Lockbox 285 Washington, DC 20055 (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu or from Space Studies Board National Research Council 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 http://www.national-academies.org/ssb/ssb.html Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences . All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine National Research Council The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH COMMITTEE ON ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS JOHN P. HUCHRA, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Co-chair THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology, Co-chair ERIC E. BECKLIN, University of California at Los Angeles TODD A. BOROSON, National Optical Astronomy Observatories ROGER CHEVALIER, University of Virginia ARTHUR F. DAVIDSEN, * Johns Hopkins University MARC DAVIS, * University of California at Berkeley NEAL J. EVANS, University of Texas at Austin WENDY L. FREEDMAN, * Carnegie Observatories JONATHAN E. GRINDLAY, * Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JACQUELINE N. HEWITT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ROBERT C. KENNICUTT, JR., University of Arizona RICHARD F. MUSHOTZKY, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center STANTON J. PEALE, University of California at Santa Barbara DEANE PETERSON, State University of New York at Stony Brook ROBERT ROSNER, * University of Chicago BLAIR D. SAVAGE, University of Wisconsin at Madison DAVID N. SPERGEL, Princeton University Observatory MICHAEL TURNER, * University of Chicago ELLEN GOULD ZWEIBEL, University of Colorado at Boulder ROBERT L. RIEMER, Study Director JOEL R. PARRIOTT, Program Officer ANNE K. SIMMONS, Senior Program Assistant RONALD M. KONKEL, Consultant KIRSTEN L. ARMSTRONG, Research Assistant * Former member.
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH BOARD ON PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY ROBERT C. DYNES, University of California at San Diego, Chair ROBERT C. RICHARDSON, Cornell University, Vice Chair GORDON A. BAYM, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign WILLIAM BIALEK, NEC Research Institute VAL FITCH, Princeton University RICHARD D. HAZELTINE, University of Texas at Austin JOHN P. HUCHRA, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JOHN C. MATHER, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center CHERRY ANN MURRAY, Lucent Technologies ANNEILA I. SARGENT, California Institute of Technology JOSEPH H. TAYLOR, Princeton University KATHLEEN C. TAYLOR, GM Research & Development Center J. ANTHONY TYSON, Lucent Technologies CARL E. WIEMAN, University of Colorado PETER G. WOLYNES, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign DONALD C. SHAPERO, Director ROBERT L. RIEMER, Associate Director KEVIN AYLESWORTH, Program Officer JOEL R. PARRIOTT, Program Officer GRACE WANG, Senior Project Associate MICHAEL LU, Staff Assistant
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH SPACE STUDIES BOARD CLAUDE R. CANIZARES, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chair MARK R. ABBOTT, Oregon State University FRAN BAGENAL, University of Colorado DANIEL N. BAKER, University of Colorado ROBERT E. CLELAND, University of Washington GERARD W. ELVERUM, JR., * TRW Space and Technology Group MARILYN L. FOGEL, Carnegie Institution of Washington RONALD GREELEY, * Arizona State University BILL GREEN, Former Member, U.S. House of Representatives JOHN H. HOPPS, JR., Rozewell, Georgia CHRIS J. JOHANNSEN, Purdue University ANDREW H. KNOLL, * Harvard University RICHARD G. KRON, University of Chicago JONATHAN I. LUNINE, University of Arizona ROBERTA BALSTAD MILLER, Columbia University GARY J. OLSEN, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign MARY JANE OSBORN, University of Connecticut Health Center GEORGE A. PAULIKAS, The Aerospace Corporation (retired) JOYCE E. PENNER, University of Michigan THOMAS A. PRINCE, California Institute of Technology PEDRO L. RUSTAN, JR., U.S. Air Force (retired) GEORGE L. SISCOE, Boston University EUGENE B. SKOLNIKOFF, Massachusetts Institute of Technology MITCHELL SOGIN, Marine Biological Laboratory NORMAN E. THAGARD, Florida State University ALAN M. TITLE, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center RAYMOND VISKANTA, Purdue University PETER W. VOORHEES, Northwestern University JOHN A. WOOD, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics JOSEPH K. ALEXANDER, Director * Former member.
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH COMMISSION ON PHYSICAL SCIENCES, MATHEMATICS, AND APPLICATIONS PETER M. BANKS, Veridian ERIM International, Inc., Co-chair W. CARL LINEBERGER, University of Colorado, Co-chair WILLIAM F. BALLHAUS, JR., Lockheed Martin Corporation SHIRLEY CHIANG, University of California at Davis MARSHALL H. COHEN, California Institute of Technology RONALD G. DOUGLAS, Texas A&M University SAMUEL H. FULLER, Analog Devices, Inc. JERRY P. GOLLUB, Haverford College MICHAEL F. GOODCHILD, University of California at Santa Barbara MARTHA P. HAYNES, Cornell University WESLEY T. HUNTRESS, JR., Carnegie Institution of Washington CAROL M. JANTZEN, Westinghouse Savannah River Company PAUL G. KAMINSKI, Technovation, Inc. KENNETH H. KELLER, University of Minnesota JOHN R. KREICK, Sanders, a Lockheed Martin Company (retired) MARSHA I. LESTER, University of Pennsylvania DUSA M. MCDUFF, State University of New York at Stony Brook JANET L. NORWOOD, Former Commissioner, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics M. ELISABETH PATÉ-CORNELL, Stanford University NICHOLAS P. SAMIOS, Brookhaven National Laboratory ROBERT J. SPINRAD, Xerox PARC (retired) MYRON F. UMAN, Acting Executive Director
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH Preface The Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA), at its meeting on September 8, 1997, was briefed on the legislative report accompanying the bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal years 1998 and 1999 for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The report raised a number of questions about trends in support for research in astronomy and the overall robustness of the programs providing that support. At its meeting, the CAA heard the views of NSF and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on these issues. In consultation with the Board on Physics and Astronomy, the Space Studies Board, and representatives of NASA and NSF, the committee accepted the task of studying three of the questions raised by the House Science Committee (HSC). The three questions were framed by the CAA as follows: What have been the trends in support for basic research in astronomy, as indicated, for example, by grant funding, growth in the number of astronomers, proposal success rate, average grant size and duration, acknowledgment of federal support in publications, and other measures of research vitality? What are the current trends in federally funded support for basic research in astronomy, including support for theoretical astrophysics, and how is this support aligned with the availability of major observational facilities (including both ground- and space-based observatories)? How vulnerable is the astronomical research community to unexpected setbacks, such as a catastrophic failure of the Hubble Space Telescope? It was intended that the results of the study would help guide federal support of basic research for the next decade and serve as analytical input to the new 2000 decadal survey of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee (AASC). The study would not offer specific funding recommendations, but rather would provide a background analysis of the alignment between available resources, agency priorities, and the vitality of the basic research program. The HSC raised two additional sets of questions. The National Research Council (NRC) charged the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee (AASC) with addressing these questions: Have NASA and NSF mission objectives resulted in a balanced, broad-based, robust science program for astronomy? Have the NASA and NSF missions been adequately coordinated, and has this resulted in an optimum science program from a productivity standpoint? What special strategies are needed for strategic cooperation between NASA and NSF? Should these be included in agency strategic plans? How do NASA and NSF determine the relative priority of new technological opportunities (including new facilities) compared to providing long-term support for associated research grants and facility operation? The task of responding to the HSC was divided in this fashion in order to avoid preempting the AASC's charge to set priorities for astronomy and astrophysics, to identify the main issues facing the field, and to make recommendations to address these issues. (Its recently released report, Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium, will be published in the fall of 2000.) The CAA was careful to frame its own study as a data-gathering exercise intended to provide the objective basis for describing trends in the field, the primary value of which would be to support the
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH work of the Panel on Astronomy Education and Policy of the AASC. For this reason, the CAA study articulates findings but does not recommend any actions to address the corresponding issues. Notwithstanding the circumscribed nature of this CAA study on federal funding of astronomy, some striking facts came to light. These facts are outlined in the Executive Summary, and the data that support them are presented in the main body of the report. The committee thanks Ron Konkel, who served as a consultant to the CAA and was very helpful in making clear what data were available and what questions might be addressed objectively. He was tireless in ferreting out the information needed by the committee in its study. The CAA would also like to thank Robert L. Riemer, Joel Parriott, and Kirsten Armstrong, who provided staff support and invaluable assistance in the review of the report and its publication. John P. Huchra and Thomas A. Prince, Co-chairs Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH Acknowledgment of Reviewers This report has been reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's (NRC's) Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authors and the NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee wishes to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Arthur D. Code, University of Wisconsin at Madison, Frank D. Drake, University of California at Santa Cruz and the SETI Institute, Richard S. Ellis, University of Cambridge, England, Sandra M. Faber, University of California at Santa Cruz, Richard M. Goody, Harvard University (retired), Richard G. Kron, University of Chicago, Marcia J. Rieke, University of Arizona, Vera C. Rubin, Carnegie Institution of Washington, and J. Anthony Tyson, Lucent Technologies. Although the individuals listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the NRC.
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH Contents Executive Summary 1 1 Introduction 4 2 Back to the Past: An Update on the 1991 Decadal Report 6 2.1 THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF ASTRONOMY 6 2.2 THE FUNDING OF ASTRONOMY 7 2.2.1 Support from NSF 8 2.2.2 Support from NASA 10 2.2.3 Trends in Astronomical Research 11 3 Process and Methodology of This Study 14 3.1 KEY QUESTIONS 14 3.2 TYPES OF DATA GATHERED 14 3.3 LIMITATIONS OF DATA RESOURCES 15 4 Demographics 16 4.1 NUMBER OF ASTRONOMERS 16 4.2 PUBLICATIONS AND DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDING SOURCES 20 4.3 DATA AND CONCLUSIONS 21 5 Funding 26 5.1 THE NSF BUDGET 26 5.1.1 Total NSF R&RA Budget and AST and MPS Fractions 29 5.1.2 NSF AST Overview 32 5.1.3 Major Research Equipment 34 5.1.4 Grants Program 35 5.1.5 Oversubscription in the NSF Grants Program 37 5.2 THE NASA R&A BUDGET 40 5.2.1 NASA Theory Program 41 5.3 FACILITIES OVERSUBSCRIPTION 44 5.3.1 NSF Facilities 44
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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH 5.3.2 NASA Ground-based Facilities 47 5.3.3 NASA Missions with Guest Observer Programs 47 5.3.4 Instrumentation for Ground-based Telescopes 50 6 Discussion 52 6.1 BALANCE AMONG AGENCIES 52 6.2 GROUND-BASED OPTICAL FACILITIES 53 6.3 VULNERABILITIES 53 6.4 THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION 54 6.5 RECORD KEEPING 54 7 Findings 56 APPENDIXES A Discipline and Field Categories 61 B American Astronomical Society Membership 62 C Deflators 64 D National Science Foundation Budget Numbers 65 E Additional Sources of Funding for Astronomy 66 F National Science Foundation Proposal Success Rates 76 G Notes on Figures, Tables, and Other References 78 H Acronyms 80