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New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics
In this case, once existing obligations are honored and operations at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) rise to the planned full levels by 2017, the committee found that the only way there can be any significant new initiative is through very large reductions in the funding for existing facilities and budget lines. Accordingly, the committee considered a more optimistic scenario that it believes to be justified given the success and promise of the NSF-AST program. In this scenario, NSF-AST participates fully in the aforementioned doubling of the NSF overall budget, and so its purchasing power would grow at 4 percent per year for 10 years. This scenario was used by the committee as a basis for building its recommended program.
In considering large ground-based construction projects, the committee assumed that the Major Research Equipment and Facilities (MREFC) line would be appropriate for new NSF-AST-supported projects to compete for—once ALMA is largely completed in 2012, and noting that $150 million of ATST funding is still planned to be drawn from the line until 2017. The committee also noted that in practice, an important limitation on the construction of new facilities under MREFC is the capacity of the NSF-AST budget to provide appropriate running costs, including operations, science, and upgrades, once construction is completed.
Department of Energy (DOE)
In seeking guidance on possible budget scenarios for activities that might be funded by DOE, some in partnership with the NSF Division of Physics (NSF-PHY), the committee looked to the 2009 report from the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) and its Particle Astrophysics Scientific Assessment Group (PASAG) that reexamined current and proposed U.S. research capabilities in particle astrophysics under four budgetary scenarios.6 The committee first adopted the more optimistic HEPAP-PASAG scenario, Scenario C, under which there is also a budget doubling as the basis for developing its program. It then considered the HEPAP-PASAG Scenario A, in which the total budget is constant in FY2010 dollars.7
The HEPAP-PASAG report concluded that after allowance for a direct-detection dark matter program—which is not within the purview of this survey—Scenario A did not provide enough resources to support major hardware contributions to either LSST or JDEM (U.S. Department of Energy, Report of the HEPAP Particle Astrophysics Scientific Assessment Group (PASAG), 2009.