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New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics
levels 3 to 5. An augmentation beginning at $2 million per year and increasing to $15 million per year by the end of the decade would address this imbalance.
Laboratory Astrophysics. Herschel, JWST, SPICA, and IXO, with their fine spectral capabilities, will place new demands on basic nuclear, ionic, plasma, atomic, and molecular astrophysics. Care should be taken to ensure that these needs are met. An increase by $2 million per year in the funding of the present program is recommended.
Suborbital Program. The balloon and sounding rocket programs provide fast access to space for substantive scientific investigations and flight testing of new technology. The balloon program in particular is important for advancing detection of the cosmic microwave background and particle detection. These programs also provide a training ground for the principal investigators of tomorrow’s major missions. A growth in the budget by $15 million per year is recommended.
Theory and Computation Networks. To enable the large-scale theoretical investigations identified as science priorities by this survey, the committee proposes a new competed program to support coordinated theoretical and computational research—particularly that of fundamental relevance to upcoming space observatories. For NASA an annual budget of $5 million is recommended. For DOE an annual funding level of $1 million is recommended for activities related to space-based research.
Ground Projects—Large—in Rank Order
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)
LSST is a multipurpose observatory that will explore the nature of dark energy and the behavior of dark matter, and will robustly explore aspects of the time-variable universe that will certainly lead to new discoveries. LSST addresses a large number of the science questions highlighted in this report. An 8.4-meter optical telescope to be sited in Chile, LSST will image the entire available sky every 3 nights. Over a 10-year lifetime, LSST will be a unique facility that, building on the success of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, will produce a 100-billion-megabyte publicly accessible database. The project is relatively mature in its design. The appraised construction cost is $465 million, two-thirds of which the committee recommends be borne by NSF through its Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) line and a quarter by DOE using Major Item of Equipment (MIE) funds, with the remaining fraction coming from international and private partners. The annual operations costs are estimated at $42 million, of which $28 million