TABLE 7.1 Projects Thought Compelling for the Mid-Scale Innovations Program (in alphabetical order)

Project Name

Science Goal

Cost Rangea

Big Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey

Determine the cause of the acceleration of the universe.


Cosmic Microwave Background Measurements

Detect the signature of inflation and probe exotic physics in the earliest moments of the universe.


Exoplanet Initiatives

Develop radial velocity surveys and spectrometers to determine the properties of extrasolar planets; understand extrazodiacal light levels.

Middle and Lower

Frequency Agile Solar Radiotelescope

Understand the Sun’s atmosphere.


High-Altitude Water Čerenkov Experiment

Map the high-energy (>1 TeV) gamma-ray sky.


Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array

Determine how the universe is ionized after the formation of the first stars.


Next Generation Adaptive Optics Systems

Enable near-infrared and visible wavelength imaging and spectroscopy at spatial resolution better than that of HST to address a broad science program from exoplanet studies to galaxy formation.

Middle and Upper

North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves

Detect gravitational waves from the early universe through pulsar timing.


a Upper: $40 million to $100 million, middle: $12 million to $40 million, lower: <$12 million where costs are total project costs.

similar projects already started. The committee recommends funding of this program at a level that builds up to $40 million per year by mid-decade (additional funds over the decade would fall between $93 million and $200 million). The current level of funding for mid-scale projects in NSF-AST, which occurs on an ad hoc basis, is estimated at roughly $18 million per year, including some technology, design, and development work for LSST, GSMT, and SKA.

The principal rationale for the committee’s ranking of the Mid-Scale Innovations Program is the compelling number of highly promising projects with costs between the MRI and MREFC boundaries, plus the diversity and timeliness of the science that they could achieve. There are advantages to putting this program at the NSF-MPS level where it would serve all the divisions, and also those to putting it at the NSF-AST level.

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