NSF-AST also supports instrumentation on private observatories through its Telescope System Instrumentation Program (TSIP) ($4 million per year) program and ReSTAR ($3 million per year)-based expenditures. Small in comparison to the investments in NOAO plus Gemini ($43 million per year), these development funds provide access for the community to both unique and workhorse scientific capabilities that complement those available on the NSF-run facilities.
The Advanced Technologies and Instrumentation (ATI) and Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) programs provide technology development and instrumentation support for radio, optical and infrared, and solar facilities.
In solar astronomy, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) on Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii, received an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act commitment for about half of ATST’s roughly $300 million construction cost, and the project has formally started. Managed within NSF-AST, ATST’s other construction costs will come from NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) program. A world-leading facility, with an off-axis 4-meter mirror and an optical design optimized to eliminate scattered sunlight, ATST will operate with the most advanced solar AO system in the world, making possible, for example, a direct comparison of the magnetic structures that accompany solar granulation with the predictions of the latest computational models (Figure 6.6).