5
Sustaining the Core Research Program

A great strength of the astronomy and astrophysics research enterprise in the United States is that support comes from a variety of sources. These include federal and state governments as well as private universities, foundations, and individual donors. The federal program, with which this report is most concerned, is managed by NSF, NASA, and DOE, with additional, directed federal funding coming through the Smithsonian Institution1 and the Department of Defense.2 The research enterprise consists of two main components: (1) unique facilities, missions, and institutions, which are discussed in Chapter 6, and (2) the broadly distributed core activities discussed in this chapter—such as research grants to individuals and groups that support observation, theory, computation, data handling and dissemination, technology development, and laboratory astrophysics—that are the true foundations of the astrophysics enterprise.

Maintaining the correct balance between large and small projects, between projects and core activities, and also among the elements of the core program is a challenge that requires evaluation in the context of the current and future scientific landscape. In its review of the current health of these activities, the committee identifies modifications or augmentations that, because of an evolution of funding,

1

This report does not review the activities of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which operates with a federal appropriation of roughly $24 million (FY2009).

2

This report does not review activities of the Department of Defense, which provides support in areas such as solar physics, astrometry, and interferometry, including support for the activities of the United States Naval Observatory.



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5 Sustaining the Core Research Program A great strength of the astronomy and astrophysics research enterprise in the United States is that support comes from a variety of sources. These include federal and state governments as well as private universities, foundations, and individual donors. The federal program, with which this report is most concerned, is man- aged by NSF, NASA, and DOE, with additional, directed federal funding coming through the Smithsonian Institution1 and the Department of Defense.2 The re- search enterprise consists of two main components: (1) unique facilities, missions, and institutions, which are discussed in Chapter 6, and (2) the broadly distributed core activities discussed in this chapter—such as research grants to individuals and groups that support observation, theory, computation, data handling and dissemination, technology development, and laboratory astrophysics—that are the true foundations of the astrophysics enterprise. Maintaining the correct balance between large and small projects, between projects and core activities, and also among the elements of the core program is a challenge that requires evaluation in the context of the current and future scientific landscape. In its review of the current health of these activities, the committee identifies modifications or augmentations that, because of an evolution of funding, 1 This report does not review the activities of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which operates with a federal appropriation of roughly $24 million (FY2009). 2 This report does not review activities of the Department of Defense, which provides support in areas such as solar physics, astrometry, and interferometry, including support for the activities of the United States Naval Observatory. 

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and of science, or of infrastructure, are needed to maintain the balance that is essential for a vibrant astronomy and astrophysics research program. INDIVIDUAL INVESTIGATOR PROGRAMS Individual investigator programs are paramount in realizing the science poten- tial of existing facilities, in pathfinding for future space missions and ground-based projects, and in training the current and future workforce. A healthy enterprise in astronomy and astrophysics requires a vigorous research grants program. The fundamental products of astronomy (or any other science) are the dis- coveries resulting from research—new testable and tested ideas. The data analysis and dissemination and theoretical work performed by both individual scientists and science teams are ultimately responsible for the amazing results witnessed in astronomy in the past few decades. One of the most important secondary products is people who are trained in the broad discipline of science and who have skill in quantitative thinking and analysis, numerical computation, instrumentation and engineering, teaching, and project management. Astronomers use complex and sophisticated tools and facilities such as sat- ellites (e.g., the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Spitzer Infrared Observatory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope), ground- based facilities (e.g., NRAO plus ALMA, NOAO plus Gemini telescopes), and computing (high-performance networks, large-scale clusters, and software) to produce these products. However, supporting the development, construction, and operation of astrophysics facilities is far from all that is required to produce the superb results and discoveries that have driven the field and captured the public’s imagination. It is the combination of improved capabilities and facilities and the resources to use them effectively that has led to the remarkable scientific advances in astronomy. Scientific progress thus depends on and requires that individual in- vestigators be supported, including being granted the resources that train students and postdoctoral fellows. A significant challenge for the astrophysics program is how to maintain sup- port for individual investigators pursuing a broad range of activities in a landscape where specific, large programs provide a fluctuating level of funding for associ- ated analysis and theory. Realizing the scientific potential of existing facilities is of primary importance, but so is placing the broad range of results in appropriate context, providing young scientists with opportunities to develop their potential, and enabling the creative thinking that lays the foundations for the future. As in most fields, the primary mechanisms for supporting research and train- ing are competed grants programs. NASA funds both general mission-enabling grants programs and those supporting the specific science from operating satellites, such as the guest observer programs associated with Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer,

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe Table 5.1 NaSa astrophysics Division-Sponsored Proposal Opportunities for 2007 Proposals Proposals Oversubscription Program Received Selected Rate astronomy and Physics R&a (aPRa) 146 52 2.8 to 1 Hubble Space Telescope 821 189 4.3 Chandra X-ray Observatory 663 177 3.7 Spitzer Space Telescope 720 258 2.8 XMM-Newton 330 102 3.2 INTeGRal 30 25 1.2 Kepler Participating Scientists 37 8 4.6 Origins of Solar Systems (with Planetary Science Division) 104 27 3.9 astrophysics Theory and Fundamental Physics (aTP) 181 37 4.9 GaleX Guest Investigator –­ Cycle 4 99 35 2.8 astrophysics Data analysis 98 41 2.3 Fermi Guest Investigator –­ Cycle 1 167 42 4.0 Swift Guest Investigator –­ Cycle 4 144 49 2.9 Suzaku Guest Investigator –­ Cycle 3 120 50 2.4 TOTal 3,660 1,092 3.4 SOURCe: NaSa astrophysics Division. and Fermi. NSF supports a general astronomy and astrophysics grants program as well as more specialized programs such as the CAREER awards and the Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow program. DOE supports centrally adminis- tered grants programs, those administered through specific DOE laboratories, and awards for young investigators. In recent times, funding for these essential programs has flattened or even de- clined3 at NASA and NSF, especially when considered relative to the growth of the field. Notably, DOE funding for astrophysics research increased from $34.4 million per year in 2004 to $45.2 million per year in 2008. Table 5.1 shows that in 2007 the oversubscription rate for various elements of NASA’s Astrophysics Division grants program varied but generally exceeded 2.5:1 and was as high as 4.9:1. Figure 5.1 shows that during the past decade, NSF’s proposal success rate for AST grants fell from a high of 37 percent in 2002 to a low of 23 percent in 2008, significantly lower than the more than 50 percent success rate of the early 1990s. These data show that grant support for individual astronomers and astro- physicists has not grown as fast as the field over the past 15 years. At the current proposal success rate of less than 1 in 5 for NSF’s AAG program or some of the NASA R&A grants programs, even proposals rated “excellent” cannot be supported. There is a strong case for increasing the funding of these programs such that those 3 Funds provided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocations to the agencies are a temporary perturbation of these trends.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and FIGURe 5.1 Proposal success rate for NSF as a whole, for NSF’s Directorate for Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS), and for NSF’s astronomical Sciences (aST) Division, from 1988 to 2008. proposals deemed worthy of funding by review panels, program managers, and advisory groups can be supported. Furthermore, the current situation is not a healthy position from which to carry out the more ambitious recommendations of Astro2010, given the needs for technical resources and personnel training. The goal is to achieve an appropriate balance between the optimal scientific exploitation of data obtained from the missions and facilities funded by NASA and NSF, and the mission/facility support itself. In the committee’s judgment, it is absolutely necessary for the health of the whole astronomy and astrophysics enterprise to increase the support of individual investigators: those who write the papers, who train the students and other junior researchers, and who in the end produce the results to drive the field forward and ignite the public’s imagination. Reallocation of resources may have to come at the expense of support of existing missions/facilities and new projects. In Chapter 7 the committee recommends upward adjustments in the fund- ing levels of certain individual researcher and group grants programs at NSF

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe and NASA. Funding opportunities and the changing needs of larger programs sometimes require advice on significantly shorter intervals than the long-term advice provided here on program balance. In the past decade, for example, chang- ing priorities at NASA overall, combined with the Columbia disaster, resulted in an abrupt funding redistribution that ultimately led to a significant imbalance in NASA’s astrophysics program, which in turn created issues with continuity of small-scale funding.4 For such unforeseen changes in circumstance, the AAAC can, as discussed in Chapter 3, provide tactical advice to DOE, NASA, and NSF on the support of individual and group grants funding, including the balance between grants programs, mission/facility operations, and the design and development of new missions/facilities. THEORY Emerging Trends in Theoretical Research The role of theory in astrophysics has evolved in ways that reflect the increas- ing complexity of observations. Today, theoretical astrophysicists use analytical methods to devise speculative scenarios that account for new observations, they carry out detailed computational simulations of complex systems, and they de- velop new methods and frameworks for testing models against observational data. Together these methods propel progress, often in unforeseen ways. For example, the discussion of gravitational microlensing in the 1980s led to new observational constraints on the nature of dark matter in the 1990s and now provides a power- ful pathway to the discovery of exoplanets. Similarly, recent observations of the cosmic microwave background have provided precision measurements of the age and content of the universe, but only because the theoretical framework had been developed over the preceding several decades, starting with new, bold theories about the exponential expansion rate of universe in its first few moments. More- over, theory informed the design of experiments and enabled measurements to be extracted. The result is a spectacularly successful “standard model” of the universe, which experiments recommended in this report will test even more stringently. Several important trends are increasing the scope of theoretical activity and enhancing the roles of theorists: • The boundary between astrophysics theory and high-energy physics theory has become increasingly blurred as astrophysical observations play a grow- ing role in particle physics phenomenology. Much of the information we 4 National Research Council, A Performance Assessment of NASA’s Astrophysics Program, The Na- tional Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and have about physics beyond the standard model of particle physics comes from astrophysics; particle and astrophysical theorists are collaborating to push back the frontiers of fundamental physics. As an example, particle physics theory provides the prime candidates for potential dark matter particles (weakly interacting massive particles and axions) with properties that are constrained by both high-energy physics and cosmology. • Large numerical simulations are increasingly central to progress in astro- physics. Rapid advances in computational capabilities enable the large-scale computations needed to understand the complex phenomena being uncov- ered by current telescopes. They will be essential for predicting and under- standing gravitational wave signals, and will enable three-dimensional simulations of supernova explosions and of the formation of the first stars in the universe, for example (Figure 5.2). • As the cost and scope of new observational facilities have grown, theorists have played an increasing role in their conceptual development, in making the science case for funding them, and in analyzing the results. Examples include new gravitational wave observatories and modeling of the distribu- tion of stable planetary systems to inform future searches. • Theorists provide visualizations of complex physical phenomena that facilitate deeper understanding, that are appealing to the general public, and that attract talented young people to the field. FIGURe 5.2 Simulated image of gravitational radiation from two merging black holes using NaSa’s Columbia supercomputer. a movie of this simulation can be found at http://www.nas.nasa.gov/News/ archive/2006/08-09-06.html. SOURCe: Chris Henze, NaSa.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe Theoretical Challenges for the Next Decade A healthy theory program advances science on a broad front and supports a range of targeted activities as well as the exploration of radical new ideas that inspire missions for the distant future. For this decade, the Astro2010 Science Frontiers Panels (SFPs), and Chapter 2 of this report, have identified questions on the forefront of astrophysics, several of which present specific and significant theoretical challenges. The Panel on Cosmology and Fundamental Physics raises the questions, How did the universe begin? Why is the universe accelerating? What is dark matter? What are the properties of neutrinos? New observations are central to providing the necessary constraints to address these questions, but theories are ultimately being put to the test. One of the upcoming challenges associated with the Panel on Stars and Stellar Evolution is the three-dimensional simulation of the magnetic field observed in the solar corona using the Solar Dynamics Observer and other solar observatories. The quality of the data now being garnered presents a strong challenge to simula- tors. Success in explaining the behavior of the solar magnetic field will pay large dividends as astrophysicists attempt to understand how fields behave in other environments. The prime research topics identified by the Panel on the Galactic Neighbor- hood involve study of the circumgalactic and interstellar media seen as complex ecosystems. For both topics, sophisticated simulations go hand in hand with the observational program. A third question concerns the fossil record of star forma- tion as a means of understanding the first stars and the subsequent assembly of galaxies like our own. Here the theories of stellar evolution and stellar dynamics are crucial. The fourth research area, the use of the galaxy to study dark matter (Figure 5.3), has already attracted the attention of a large community of theoreti- cal physicists. Central questions raised by the Panel on Galaxies Across Cosmic Time are the following: How do cosmic structures form and evolve? How do baryons cycle in and out of galaxies, and what do they do while they are there? How do black holes grow, radiate, and influence their surroundings? (Figure 5.4), and What were the first objects to light up the universe, and when did they do it? As discussed below, analytic theory and computational modeling will take a central role in addressing these questions. Supernovae are the most energetic explosions in the universe since the big bang and the furnaces in which most of the chemical elements from which we are made are forged. Visible from halfway across the universe, these spectacular cosmic events provide some of the strongest evidence that the universe is accelerating. As pointed out by the Panel on Stars and Stellar Evolution, understanding why and how stars

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and FIGURe 5.3 Two views of dark matter distribution. SOURCe: edmund bertschinger, MIT. FIGURe 5.4 False-color simulated image of the density of matter accreting from a spinning gas disk onto a black hole. The image shows a cross-sectional cut through one side of the disk, with the black hole represented as a black semicircle on the left side. a striking feature is the large, chaotic fluctuations in the density caused by convective motions in the disk. SOURCe: J. Stone, Princeton University.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe explode as supernovae requires three-dimensional computations similar to those used to study fuel efficiency in cars and the design of new rockets but in far more exotic and challenging conditions (Figure 5.5). Finally, understanding planet formation, an issue central to the Panel on Planetary Systems and Star Formation, is one of the most challenging tasks in astrophysics. A comprehensive theory of planet formation requires following the growth of dust grains in the protoplanetary disk into small rocky bodies, the growth of these bodies into planets, and the subsequent development of oceans and atmospheres—a study spanning some 42 orders of magnitude in mass and a vast array of processes ranging from the sticking properties of dust grains, through the dynamics of bodies in shearing gas flows, to gravitational stability of planetary orbits on billion-year timescales. FIGURe 5.5 Theoretically predicted chemical structure 100 seconds after the explosion of a massive carbon/oxygen white dwarf. The blue regions show intermediate-mass elements (e.g., silicon, sulphur, calcium), green indicates radioactively stable iron-group elements, and red indicates 56Ni, the isotope that powers the supernovae for the next few months. SOURCe: Reprinted by permission from Macmil- lan Publishers ltd: Nature, D. Kasen, F.K. Röpke, and S.e. Woosley, The diversity of type Ia supernovae from broken symmetries, Nature 460:869-872, 2009. Copyright 2009.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs 0 In and Individual Investigator Programs in Theory and Computation Astrophysical theory is intellectually vibrant, and productivity is high: about 45 percent of published papers are on theory, and about one-third of publishing astronomers are pursuing theory (see Figure 4.9). Based on the recent record, there is a compelling case that investments in theory by the agencies will be amply repaid in the form of new mission and experiment concepts and enhanced scientific return from operating facilities. Astrophysical theory draws some of the world’s best intellectual talent into the U.S. scientific enterprise. Because some of the most important theory contributions in the next decade will come from broadly based theory not specifically tied to large activities, the role of general individual inves- tigator programs will continue to be as important as ever. These programs form the traditional base of theoretical astrophysics in which Ph.D. students are trained, new ideas arise, and future observational or experimental efforts are seeded. Astrophysics and cosmology theory is supported through a number of pro- grams at the federal agencies. At NSF, general astrophysics theory is funded through the AST Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants (AAG) program,5 as well as through the NSF Division of Physics (NSF-PHY) via its Frontier Centers and individual investigator grants in cosmology and particle physics theory. At NASA, the Astrophysics Theory Program (ATP) supports most general theory efforts. In addition, the Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra, and Fermi Observatories accept theoretical investigations as part of their guest investigator programs. Other critical support comes from NASA Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship programs (Einstein, Hubble, Sagan). The DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics also supports theoretical and computational astrophysics efforts. Table 5.2 summarizes current funding levels. As is the case with the grants programs in general, proposal success rates in theory have declined over the past decade. The recent success rate in NASA’s ATP is only 15 to 20 percent, significantly lower than funding rates for theory within its Planetary Exploration program, for example. Given the central importance of theory to the enterprise, and the crucial role played by individual investigator grants, the committee recommends in Chapter 7 that the grants programs at both NSF and NASA be augmented. The Rapid Rise of Astrophysical Computing The dramatic impact of computation on astronomy and astrophysics is mani- fested in many ways. Modern numerical codes are now being used to simulate and 5 The financial support for theory within the NSF-AST AAG program is roughly 7 percent of the total NSF-AST budget and, for comparison, about 10 percent of both the NSF-PHY and DOE Particle Astrophysics budgets.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe Table 5.2 Support for astrophysics and Cosmology Theory Program budget (million $) NSF-aST astronomy and astrophysics Research Grants 15.1 NSF other (aaPF, CaReeR, Cyberinfrastructure, and others) 5.3 NSF-PHY astrophysics and Cosmology Theory 1.2 NSF-PHY Physics Frontier Centers (several) NaSa astrophysics Division astrophysics Theory Program 12.4 NaSa astrophysics Division Great Observatories Guest Observer Programs 2.2 DOe Scientific Discovery through advanced Computing 0.7 DOe High energy Physics Theory 10 DOe Nuclear Physics Theory 3 understand the formation of structure in the universe, the explosion of massive stars, the evolution of our solar system over billions or trillions of years, and how a complex experiment works. They are also essential to processing astronomical images whose sizes now exceed 1 billion bytes (a gigabyte) into data that are usable by the astronomical community. The largest codes may have in excess of a million lines and run on supercomputers that have more than 100,000 cores, generating data sets that occupy 1 trillion bytes (a terabyte) of storage. These codes are now an indispensible part of the astronomical enterprise. However, they often require teams—scientists, computer professionals, applied mathematicians, and algorithm specialists—to create, maintain, and constantly develop them. NSF, NASA, and DOE have made substantial investments in high-performance computing (HPC) over the past decade, making available close to a petaflop of sustained computing power to the astrophysics community. Such facilities enable cutting-edge theoretical calculations and analyses that push the astrophysics fron- tier. Future progress in supercomputer power will come from further paralleliza- tion, with the largest systems evolving from 104 to 105 processor cores today to perhaps 108 to 109 cores by the end of the decade.6 These capabilities will enable qualitatively new physical modeling.7 Exploiting the new computer systems will require new software codes and sustained support for focused research groups. At the same time, strategic balance should be main- tained between investment in HPC and hardware resources for individual investi- 6 Such large increases in processing capability carry implications for the amount of power and cooling that will be necessary. On the presumption that the total power usage cannot increase sig- nificantly in a “green” computing future, major advances in chip design and special-purpose software will be necessary. 7 Simulations in cosmological structure formation, galaxy formation, stellar evolution, super- nova explosions, gamma-ray bursts, star formation, planet formation, and high-energy particle acceleration are just a few example areas.

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 Table 5.3 Detailed NSF-aST Non-facilities budgets (in millions of FY2010 dollars) 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 R&E 34.21 42.19 44.77 57.68 62.04 61.02 60.60 61.92 63.91 64.53 aaG 24.09 26.11 27.73 35.36 38.11 35.23 35.55 41.80 43.61 43.03 eSP 6.19 6.05 6.20 6.55 6.25 6.15 5.81 5.94 5.70 6.87 aaPF 0.00 0.00 0.73 1.44 1.69 1.78 1.79 1.63 1.58 1.41 eSM 0.13 0.26 0.20 0.13 0.21 0.30 0.22 0.22 0.21 0.19 STC 0.88 8.21 2.10 4.84 4.71 4.51 4.44 4.30 4.21 3.39 Projects 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.89 0.47 1.32 4.01 1.30 1.49 2.59 Initiatives 2.11 1.25 7.08 7.69 9.92 11.13 7.97 5.68 5.79 5.31 Panels/IPas 0.81 0.32 0.72 0.77 0.68 0.60 0.80 1.05 1.32 1.74 Inst/Tech 8.92 9.36 10.23 16.29 22.36 22.42 23.79 21.63 31.57 30.01 aTIa 7.99 8.22 8.01 9.75 12.18 10.79 10.51 8.44 10.28 9.22 CIP 0.00 0.00 0.61 4.81 8.17 9.11 4.66 5.23 6.85 4.09 Tech/MSP 0.93 1.14 1.61 1.73 2.01 2.52 8.62 7.96 14.43 16.70 TOTal 43.13 51.55 55.00 73.97 84.41 83.44 84.38 83.55 95.48 94.54 NOTe: aaG, astronomy and astrophysics Research Grants; aaPF, astronomy and astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows; aTI, advanced Technologies and Instrumentation; CIP, Community Instrumentation Programs (TSIP, aODP, PReST); eSM, electromagnetic Spectrum Management; eSP, education and Special Programs; Initiatives, aST funding to NSF- or MPS-wide programs; Inst/Tech, Instrumentation and Technology Development programs; Panels/IPas, Review panels and Intergovernmental Personnel act appointments; Projects, Special Projects; R&e, Research and education programs; STC, Science and Technology Centers; Tech/MSP, Technology devel - opment and mid-scale projects. a NSF’s aTI program fluctuated by only about 15 percent in FY2010 dollars over the decade 1999 to 2008. SOURCe: NSF Division of astronomical Sciences.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe tation, and the ~3-year grant duration is long enough to cover much, but frequently not all, of a graduate student’s Ph.D.-thesis years. The Telescope System Instrument Program and the University Radio Observatory program, described in Chapter 6, help provide the facilities for students to learn observing procedures and develop new instrumentation. In Chapter 7 the committee recommends augmentations for several of these programs. However, some of the most compelling science opportunities and instrumentation frontiers—and therefore the areas of highest interest among young people—are beyond the scales of even the largest of these mid-scale programs. A National Science Board report16 and a National Research Council report17 both emphasized that NSF should address the need for mid-size infrastructure, as have the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences (NSF-AST) senior review,18 several AAAC annual reports,19 and multiple Committees of Visitors to NSF-AST, NSF-PHY, and the NSF Division of Materials Research of its Directorate for Math- ematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) between 2003 and 2009. All of these reports stated that NSF needs a better mechanism to fund projects with costs between the top of the MRI funding bracket ($4 million to $6 million varying over the decade) and the bottom of the MREFC funding bracket (~$135 million). Since at least FY2007, mid-scale instrumentation has been identified as a prior- ity of NSF’s MPS directorate. In FY2009 and FY2010 mid-scale instrumentation was called out as a priority for NSF-AST, with increases resulting in expenditures of $32 million in FY2010. Beyond spending on GSMT, LSST, and SKA technol- ogy, design, and development, the projects funded include SDSS-II and SDSS-III, VERITAS, the Murchison Widefield Array, the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, PolarBeaR, and QUIET. Some of these were co-funded by NSF-PHY. In Chapter 7, the committee recommends the establishment of a formally com- peted mid-scale instrumentation and facilities line within NSF-AST with additional funding beyond that currently being provided. The program would be focused specifically on the construction costs of instruments and facilities that fall between the top of the MRI and the bottom of the MREFC funding ranges. This survey received 29 proposals that would be eligible for such a competition, many of which were highly rated by the survey’s Program Prioritization Panels (PPPs) because they address directly the frontier science questions identified by the SFPs. 16 National Science Board, Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the st Century: The Role of the National Science Foundation, NSB 02190, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., 2003. 17 National Research Council, Advanced Research Instrumentation and Facilities, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006. 18 National Science Foundation, From the Ground Up: Balancing the NSF Astronomy Program, Report of the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences Senior Review Committee, National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., 2006. 19 Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, Annual Report 00 and Annual Report 00, available at http://www.nsf.gov/mps/ast/aaac.jsp.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT Technology development is the engine powering advances in astronomy and astrophysics, from vastly extending the scientific reach of existing facilities to opening up new windows on the universe. All of the Astro2010 PPPs emphasized the critical importance of technology development, and each stressed the urgent need to augment existing funding levels to realize important programs essential to reducing the technical, cost, and schedule risk of planned missions. Mission- or project-specific technology development must reach an acceptable level before accurate costs can be determined, priorities set, and construction scheduled. Failure to develop adequately mature technology prior to a program start also leads to cost and schedule overruns. NASA-Funded Space-Based Astrophysics Technology Development Technology development in three categories is discussed in this section: 1. Near-term mission-specific technology development is directed toward the particular requirements of a specific mission. 2. Mid-term or “general” technology development is aimed at maturing the technical building blocks (detectors, optics, and so on) that will enable high-priority science to be done on future missions with low risk and pre- dictable cost. 3. Long-term or “blue sky” development supports novel ideas and approaches that could lead to transformational improvements in capability and enable missions not yet dreamed of—a level of technology development that is crucial to the future vitality of NASA. Near-Term Mission-Specific Technology Development Needs Ensuring adequate funding up front for mission-specific technology develop- ment is critical to predicting and managing mission costs and schedules.20 It has been reported that “in the mid-1980s, NASA’s budget office found that during the first 30 years of the civil space program, no project enjoyed less than a 40 percent cost overrun unless it was preceded by an investment in studies and technology of at least 5 to 10 percent of the actual project budget that eventually occurred.”21 20 Such technology development was also recommended in a 2009 NRC report, America’s Future in Space: Aligning the Civil Space Program with National Needs, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. Available at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12701. 21 John C. Mankins, The critical role of advanced technology investments in preventing spaceflight program cost overrun, The Space Review, December 1, 2008. Available at http://www.thespacereview. com/article/1262/1. Accessed May 2010.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe Mission-specific technology development funding has suffered substantial cuts over the past decade, cuts reflected in the immature state of a number of mis- sions the survey committee has ranked as having very high scientific priority. The Astro2010 Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation found that further invest- ment is needed in systems engineering and life-testing of components for the LISA Pathfinder mission, which is designed to demonstrate a number of LISA’s critical technologies. The Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space identified significant technology development needs for IXO, primary among them being the selection and demonstration of the critical X-ray optics. The survey committee also found IXO technologies to be too immature at present for accurate cost and risk assessment, and therefore recommends (in Chapter 7) significant investment in technology development during this decade so that IXO can be considered ready for a mission start early in the next decade. Instrumentation for the SPICA mission is a third area where specific technology development funds are needed during this decade. Determining the optimum funding levels is difficult, but NASA should collect and analyze the appropriate statistical data and apply sufficient funds for technology maturation for LISA, IXO, and SPICA. Mid-Term Technology Development Mid-term technology development enables defining, maturing, and ultimately selecting approaches to realize future scientific goals. In mid-term technology development it is usually necessary to pursue multiple paths to the same end, since both the detailed science requirements and the success of particular technologies remain uncertain. In addition, it is essential to pursue a broad range of technolo- gies spanning the electromagnetic spectrum to ensure the vitality of competed mission lines and to pave the way for next-decade missions. The later stages of mid-term development are typically more costly than early-stage concept demon- stration, because they may involve expensive prototypes or significant engineering efforts to design systems that can withstand testing in relevant environments. The committee identified a number of high-priority science areas for which mid-term investments are needed beginning early in the decade, including devel- opment of a variety of technologies for exoplanet imaging, such as coronagraphs, interferometers, and star shades, leading to possible late-decade down-selecting. In addition, mid-term investment is needed for systems aimed at detecting the polarization of the CMB, and for optics and detectors for a future space UV space telescope. Broad-based mid-term technology development is also crucial to the Explorer program, which selects missions that can be implemented on short timescales. Mid-term technology development is funded primarily through NASA’s As- tronomy and Physics Research and Analysis (APRA) program, which was cut

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and considerably in the middle of the past decade. Although APRA funding has been restored to approximately 80 percent of its 2004 level (in FY2010 dollars), specific science priorities identified by the committee and its Program Prioritization Panels led the committee to recommend establishing these mid-term technology devel- opment programs and restoring APRA funding to a level matched to the needs of long-term technology development as described below. In Chapter 7 the committee recommends specific technology development programs in exoplanet, CMB, and UV instrumentation, as well as an augmentation to general mid-term development efforts that would ramp up by the end of the decade. Suborbital programs (bal- loons and rockets),which demonstrate scientific potential and test technologies in a space environment, are also critical in mid-term technology development and also are recommended in Chapter 7 for an augmentation. Long-Term Technology Development Long-term technology development builds the future of the space astrophysics program. It has become standard to achieve order-of-magnitude or greater increases in capability with each generation of missions, and exciting science breakthroughs have been achieved as a result. The only way to advance to the next capability without an exponential increase in mission costs is to find transformational new technological solutions. Some of the breakthroughs and advances have come from outside (such as microelectronics and near-IR detector arrays), but many of the technologies required in astrophysics are unique to the field, and their development must be supported from within. Examples of truly revolutionary technologies, essential to existing and upcoming astrophysics missions, that have been largely or entirely supported by NASA are X-ray imaging mirrors, X-ray microcalorimeters, and large arrays of submillimeter detectors. Future needs might include atomic laser gyros for pointing an X-ray interferometer, lightweight active mirror surfaces, new grating geometries, and novel techniques for nulling interferometry. The appropriate level of investment in technology of long-term benefit is difficult to determine. A recent NRC report provides an excellent discussion of the metrics that should be used to establish and maintain a balanced technology development program but does not attempt to specify appropriate funding levels.22 It points out the clear importance of the long-range, high-risk, high-payoff com- ponent of technology development, noting that industry typically devotes 5 to 10 percent of R&D budgets to this component. Another report, which concluded that about 8 percent of a government entity’s research budget should be set aside for 22 National Research Council, An Enabling Foundation for NASA’s Space and Earth Science Missions, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2010.

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe high-risk research,23 also emphasized the difficulty of managing this type of devel- opment: when resources are limited, the temptation is always to cut long-range work in order to satisfy the more immediate demands of near-term technology requirements. Keeping the funding steady and healthy for promising long-term work while carefully evaluating it to avoid waste requires considerable attention from long-term program managers. An NRC recommendation to NASA was that the agency increase the number of scientifically and technically capable program officers, so that they could devote an appropriate level of attention to the tasks of actively managing the portfolio of research and technology development that enables a world-class space science program.24 Long-term technology development is funded at small levels from the APRA program. In the past, the Research and Engineering Directorate funded long-term and cross-cutting technologies (i.e., technologies with broad application within NASA), but this program was discontinued in the past decade. The committee was pleased to learn that NASA is planning to re-invigorate technology development across the enterprise, and it hopes that this effort will be managed in a way that provides an increased variety of opportunities for far-sighted work toward the future needs of astrophysics. To address the issues raised above concerning support of mid-range technol- ogy development for future astrophysics missions, the committee recommends in Chapter 7 increases in the funding levels of NASA’s APRA and Suborbital programs. The adequate support of technology development for specific high-priority mis- sions is also recommended in Chapter 7. NSF-Funded Ground-Based Astrophysics Technology Development The above discussion of the categories and benefits of technology development for the space program apply equally well to ground-based efforts, but the funding patterns are different. At NSF, relatively near-term technology development is carried out in the course of instrument construction, for example at the national observatories and by the larger community funded by competitive grants from the MRI and ATI programs. The critical advancement of promising new technologies that are not yet ready for implementation, including next-generation and blue-sky technologies, is funded primarily by the ATI program. This aspect of NSF-AST 23 National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2007. 24 National Research Council, An Enabling Foundation for NASA’s Space and Earth Science Missions, 2010.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and technology development will be crucial for meeting the needs for the program outlined in this report, including achieving the level of technology development and demonstration required before MREFC funding can be obtained for new major projects. The types of high-risk, high-payoff technologies that can be transformative frequently take a large fraction of a decade to bring to the point of a convincing demonstration. An example of the kind of technological breakthrough that NSF is capable of enabling is adaptive optics with laser guide star technologies, which today improve the spatial resolution of ground-based images by factors of 20 to 50. The current outstanding performance of adaptive optics on 8- to 10-meter telescopes took more than a decade to achieve. In view of the higher risk of potentially transformative technology develop- ment, one would expect ATI to have a substantial pipeline of projects under way with the realization that many will fail, but a few will succeed in dramatic fashion. In the decade from 1998 to 2008, ATI proposals had a somewhat higher rate of approval for funding than the average for NSF-AST, and the committee thinks that this is appropriate, given the great potential of new technologies for astronomy. The committee received community input in the form of white papers on the funding needs for technology development in areas such as adaptive optics, opti- cal and infrared interferometry, millimeter and submillimeter detector arrays, and high-speed, large-N correlators. The Astro2010 Panel on Optical and Infrared Astronomy from the Ground and Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Astronomy from the Ground made a convincing case that the current level of ATI funding should be augmented to enable successful pursuit of these highly ranked technology development programs and roadmaps. In Chapter 7 the committee recommends increased funding of the ATI program to meet the technology devel- opment needs of the future astronomy and astrophysics program. DOE-Funded Technology Development DOE-supported laboratories offer capabilities for technology development that are frequently not accessible at universities. As a result, unique technologies that could be key for astronomical advances are developed at DOE laboratories in support of primary DOE missions, and later adapted for astronomical applications. Examples include (1) the very-large-format detectors that are now being applied to wide-area astronomical imaging in the Dark Energy Camera, and potentially in LSST and WFIRST; (2) the dye lasers developed for the Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation Program that were later modified and adapted for use in laser guide star adaptive optics systems; (3) the electron beam ion traps that were used to measure atomic physics processes for DOE’s nuclear weapons mission and subsequently used to measure cross sections relevant to astronomical X-ray spectroscopy; and

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe (4) the technologies from high-energy physics that are being used very successfully in the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. DOE has been supporting specific technology development activities for JDEM and LSST, as well as more general technology development for TeV experiments and cosmic microwave background polarization experiments. Continuation of these activities is of great importance to the committee’s recommended program. LABORATORY ASTROPHYSICS The Scope and Needs of Laboratory Astrophysics Laboratory astrophysics plays an important role in ensuring the success of current and future missions and observatories, as highlighted in four of the five Science Frontiers Panel reports. The field of laboratory astrophysics comprises ex- perimental and theoretical studies of the underlying physics that produces observed astrophysical processes. Astronomy is primarily an observational science, detecting light generated by atomic, molecular, and solid state processes, many of which can be studied in the laboratory (see Figure 5.9). Our understanding of the universe also relies on knowledge of the evolution of matter (nuclear and particle physics) and of the dynamical processes shaping it (plasma physics), substantial parts of which can be studied in the laboratory.25 As telescope capabilities expand in wavelength coverage and precision, laboratory astrophysics plays an increasingly important role in the interpretation of data. At the same time, support for laboratory astro- physics has eroded, and a more robust system of funding to support personnel, equipment, and databases is needed to ensure efficient use and interpretation of hard-won astronomical data. Traditionally research in astronomy has required atomic and molecular tran- sition data for use in understanding spectra at wavelengths ranging from radio through X-ray wavelengths and for nuclear interaction cross sections. These topics were also at the forefront of research in their respective areas of physics, with the generation of such data heavily supported by NSF-PHY and DOE. There have always been some efforts focused entirely on astrophysics, but the bulk of the data came “for free” from the physics community and especially the national laboratories. The frontiers of physics have evolved, particularly in the field of atomic, molecular, and optical science, and little work of this type is now done 25 Specifically, laboratory astrophysics studies processes such as atomic and molecular transitions to obtain wavelengths, oscillator strengths, branching ratios, and collision cross sections; nuclear reactions to obtain important cross sections for nucleosynthesis and cosmic-ray spallation; plasma dynamics, transport, and dissipation processes to understand how gases respond to magnetic fields; and chemical reactions in the gas phase and on the surface of dust grains.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs 0 In and FIGURe 5.9 The richness of the submillimeter spectrum for probing molecular chemistry in regions 5-9 0909.5256v1 8.eps where stars are born, illustrated with SMa data. Note the number of lines that are at present un- identified (“U”). The promise of SMa, alMa, and CCaT will be enhanced with additional laboratory astrophysics work. SOURCe: C.l. brogan, T.R. Hunter, C.J. Cyganowski, R. Indebetouw, H. beuther, K.M. Menten, and S. Thorwirth, Digging into NGC 6334 I(N): Multiwavelength imaging of a massive protostellar cluster, astrophysical Journal 707:1-23, 2009. Reproduced by permission of aaS. in physics departments. At the same time, astronomy’s needs have expanded with the progression into new wavelength regimes and the rapid increase in measure- ment capabilities. For example, precision experiments on magnetized plasmas under astrophysical conditions are becoming available, as are high-energy-density experiments that make use of giant lasers and magnetic pinches to create relevant conditions for heating and shock propagation. In addition, it is possible to use these experiments to advance understanding of magnetic reconnection, which is of vital

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sustaInInG core researcH ProGraM  tHe importance in solar physics. The combination of these factors leads to a need for an increase in the level of support for laboratory astrophysics. There is also an increased interest in non-traditional areas of laboratory astro- physics such as high-energy-density phenomena. Realization of the importance of magnetized plasmas in interstellar and intergalactic space has generated a need for basic information on the behavior of such plasmas, often in physical regimes far from those currently being studied for their application to magnetic fusion reactors. Laboratory measurements will allow us to understand the formation of molecules in interstellar space and stellar atmospheres, both critical for studies of star formation, for example by studying the complex chemical reactions on the surface of dust grains. DOE’s high-energy-density facilities26 will be able to host laboratory astrophysics experiments relevant to outstanding questions in radiative hydrodynamics, equation-of-state measurements relevant to planetary interiors, and turbulent flow. Those facilities are also performing experiments important to high-energy astrophysics, specifically involving the behavior of hot plasmas and dynamical magnetic field configurations. The Science Frontiers Panel reports call out specific needs for research in labo- ratory astrophysics in order to accomplish the proposed research objectives for the next decade. New capabilities require expanded laboratory astrophysics research in the X-ray, UV, millimeter and submillimeter, and IR regimes as missions such as Herschel, JWST, and ALMA go forward. The SFP reports highlight the need for tabulation of spectral features for ions, molecules, and clusters of atoms. Addi- tionally, measurements of gas-phase cross sections, for example of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon molecules found in star-forming regions, are needed to understand the absorption features seen in the spectra of galactic objects. A better understanding of dust and ice absorption spectra and the chemistry of molecule formation is also needed. The Funding Challenge NSF-PHY support for laboratory astrophysics has declined to about one-third of that provided two decades ago. Despite an increase in the number of NSF-AST laboratory astrophysics awards in atomic and molecular physics, the combined NSF-PHY plus NSF-AST laboratory astrophysics support has fallen to about half of what it was 20 years ago. Short-term funding for laboratory astrophysics, such as that tied to observing cycles, is inadequate for the health of stable laboratory astrophysics programs, and 26 Such as Z and ZR (Sandia National Laboratories), Omega (University of Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics), the National Ignition Facility (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

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new worlds, new HorIzons astronoMy astroPHysIcs  In and some source of stable base funding is needed to support experimental facilities. National laboratories, especially those under the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration, may be the most dependable long-term reservoir of capability, given that most of these topics are no longer central to the interests of basic physics at universities. The work of compiling the data into useful catalogs and databases is probably still best done by astronomers, and it is vital to maintain databases of important astrophysical results. Such work might be done at national laboratories or at major data centers but has to be coordinated among all investigators. CONCLUSION: DOE national laboratories, including those funded by the Office of Science and the National Nuclear Security Administration, have many unique facilities that can provide basic astrophysical data. In summary, the need for laboratory astrophysics has increased because of new and highly capable observing modes that require investigation and because of the relevance of laboratory astrophysics to other physics and engineering problems. Thus a systematic, long-term, and robust funding strategy is required in order to ensure successful scientific returns from missions and programs. Support requires people, instrumentation, and maintenance of databases. NSF-AST support has been increasing, but at far from a sufficient rate to compensate for the loss of input from the atomic physics community and the increased needs of modern astronomical observations. RECOMMENDATION: NASA and NSF support for laboratory astrophysics under the Astronomy and Physics Research and Analysis program and the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Grants program, respectively, should continue at current or higher levels over the coming decade because labora- tory astrophysics is vital for optimizing the science return from current and planned facilities. Missions and facilities, including DOE projects, that will require significant amounts of new laboratory research results to reach their science goals should include within their program budgets adequate funding for the necessary experimental and theoretical investigations.