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Review of USAF-Supported Astronomical Research: Letter Report
for astronomical research would be greatly enhanced if several core pieces of facility equipment and instrumentation were developed. Examples include a field derotator for the coudé ports, atmospheric dispersion correction, mitigation of stray light for instruments mounted on the trunion, and so on. The committee believes that the AEOS astronomy program should provide a mechanism for some of the allotted funding to be made available to meet general needs like these—either via proposals from the community to the NSF or via direct funding from AFOSR. Recommendations on the priorities for facility instrument and equipment needs could come from the ASWG.
The committee considers the 3.67-m Air Force telescope on Haleakala an important resource for astronomical research and believes that the provision of both telescope time and funding to enable visiting astronomers to use this facility is of great benefit to the astronomical community. It applauds the AFOSR for initiating the AEOS astronomy research program and strongly recommends its continuation. In general, the instruments that have been developed thus far are promising. While the scientific return to date has been somewhat less than is typical for other NSF astronomy programs, the committee thinks that this situation can be ascribed largely to transient effects associated with the commissioning of the facility and will improve in the future. However, the AEOS astronomy research program can be made even more scientifically productive and can take better advantage of the unique features of the AMOS facility if some changes are made to the way in which it is administered. Several explicit recommendations in this regard are offered above.
The committee thanks its hosts at AMOS, AFOSR, and NSF for being helpful, open, and interactive during the course of this review. In particular, the committee thanks Dr. Joseph Janni for his invaluable aid in lining up presentations and helping the review run smoothly. The committee will follow the progress of the AFOSR/NSF program with interest as it develops in the future.
Dr. Steven M. Kahn,
Committee on Review of USAF-Supported Astronomical Research