instrumentation needed at the independent telescopes. It also recommended that the independent observatories offer observing time to individuals not affiliated with the sponsoring universities in return for this funding. The plan was referred to as the Facilities Instrumentation Program.7 Although the original instrumentation plan was not considered to be a success because of the limited participation by the private and state observatories, the most recent survey committee and its optical/ infrared panel8 strongly endorsed the fundamental tenets of this instrumentation program as a way of increasing the overall research infrastructure for the discipline. As a result, the survey committee modified the plan so that it would be more appealing to the private and state observatories and renamed it the Telescope System Instrumentation Program.9 It was the express hope of these previous NRC’s panels that if NSF could offer a large enough incentive, it could simultaneously increase the discipline’s research infrastructure through instrumentation at the private/state observatories and exert leadership in ground-based optical/IR astronomy.


The Facilities Instrumentation Plan was endorsed again, though slightly revised, by the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics in a letter report issued in response to a request by ACCORD and NSF’s Astronomical Sciences Division to consider an alternative plan proposed by ACCORD (“Letter Report on the Revised Facilities Instrumentation Program of the National Science Foundation,” Board on Physics and Astronomy and Space Studies Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., June 2, 1999).


The report of the Panel on Optical and Infrared Astronomy from the Ground is included in Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium: Panel Reports (National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2001).


The Telescope System Instrumentation Plan was the top-ranked moderate initiative in the most recent decadal survey report.

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