Tabulated Characteristics of the NASA Astronomy Science Centers


The charge to the committee included a request for “a comparative review of current astronomy science centers in terms of the kinds of roles and services that they provide, their size (e.g., budget, staff), the extent to which they utilize centralized or distributed approaches to their architecture, the roles and status of their staff, the nature of their host or governing institution, governance structure, how they were established by NASA (e.g., sole source versus competition).”

In response, the committee collected and compared information on the centers specifically mentioned in the charge: the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), which services the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO); the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which services the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and is working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) mission; the Spitzer Science Center (SSC), which services the Spitzer Space Telescope (SST); the RXTE guest observer facility (GOF), which services the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) mission; the XMM–Newton GOF, which provides services for U.S. users of the X-ray Multimirror Mission–Newton (XMM–Newton), a mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) in which NASA participates; and the Michelson Science Center (MSC), which conducts a variety of tasks, most related to optical interferometry, including work for the developing Space Interferometry Mission (SIM). This is not a complete list of NASA astronomy science centers. For example, it does not include the centers that supported the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, and the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) when they were operating missions, nor does it include the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopy Explorer (FUSE), which has a guest observer program. The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe mission is not included, although it does support archival research. Other principal investigator (PI) missions such as the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), Swift, the Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer, and the Submillimeter-Wave Astronomy Satellite were outside the scope of the study. The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) were considered not on their own but as the umbrella structures for science centers. The list does, however, include the examples—large and small, for existing and developing missions—required for a compara-

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