TABLE 5.1 NASA Astrophysics Division-Sponsored Proposal Opportunities for 2007

Program

Proposals Received

Proposals Selected

Oversubscription 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 administered 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 declined3 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 astrophysicists 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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