funding pressure that new facilities place on the existing program. The report of the Astro2010 Panel on Radio, Millimeter, and Submillimeter Astronomy from the Ground cites the many new demands on this budget that are likely to arise over the coming decade, including full operations support for ALMA, upgrades to ALMA and other NRAO facilities, technology development for SKA, and increased support of the University Radio Observatory (URO) program. The introduction of new capabilities will require withdrawal of NSF support for some existing facilities. Reprioritization has happened historically under the URO program,12 and Arecibo and the VLBA, although both still productive and unique in sensitivity and in spatial resolution, respectively, had their funding reduced following the 2006 NSF-AST senior review. Additional savings will surely be needed, and the proper venue for making facility-by-facility funding choices is the senior review process.

CONCLUSION: The future opportunities, worldwide, in radio, millimeter, and submillimeter astronomy are considerable, but U.S. participation in projects such as the Square Kilometer Array is possible only with either a significant increase in NSF-AST funding or continuing closure of additional unique and highly productive facilities.

The committee’s recommendations in Chapter 7 address the balance within RMS astronomy through endorsements of medium-scale facilities and funds for technology development.

A Future Solar Observatory System

The NSF-supported National Solar Observatory (NSO; within NSF-AST) and High Altitude Observatory (HAO; within NSF-AGS) are joined by a number of public/private solar observatories, namely Big Bear Solar Observatory (operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology), Meese Solar Observatory (University of Hawaii), Mt. Wilson Observatory (Carnegie Institution of Washington/Mount Wilson Institute), San Fernando Observatory (California State University, Northridge), and Wilcox Solar Observatory (Stanford University). The funding streams for the independent solar observatories are fragile and have been influenced by significant reductions in the funding for them by the Office of Naval Research and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. These facilities have good collaborative arrangements with NSO and HAO in the development of instrumentation, in scheduling observing campaigns, and in exchange of personnel, and they

12

For example, the 42-meter telescope at Green Bank, the 14-meter telescope at the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the 37-meter telescope at the Haystack Observatory have been shut down already; the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory is slated for closure in 2016.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement