A new competed program coordinated with a similar program proposed to NASA, Theory and Computation Networks will, as described in Chapter 5, support coordinated theoretical and computational attacks on selected key projects that feature prominently in the science program and are judged ripe for such attention. An NSF annual funding level of $2.5 million is recommended.
The committee used a sandchart tool as an existence proof that its recommended phased program for each agency—NASA, DOE, and NSF—would fit within the suggested and envisioned decadal budget. It is recognized that budgets may indeed shift as the decade proceeds, relative to the committee’s assumptions. Therefore, the charts are perceived as most useful for conveying the committee’s intended staging of the different activities it has recommended.
The recommended program for NASA has been constrained to fit within an Astrophysics Division budget for the decade that is flat in FY2010 dollars. In round numbers, $3.7 billion is available for new initiatives and augmentations to existing programs within the 2012-2021 budget submissions. As indicated by the example shown in Figure 7.12, it is possible to accommodate the recommended program within the profile, launching WFIRST by the end of the decade; enhancing the Explorer program; getting a good start on LISA; carrying out the IXO, New Worlds, and Inflation Probe technology development programs; making essential augmentations to the core research program; and contributing to SPICA. Of course, there are many contingencies. For example, if LISA fails to satisfy either of the conditions specified by the survey committee, or if WFIRST, as recommended here, becomes a collaborative mission, it could be possible to accelerate IXO.
The committee was charged by NASA to consider a more conservative budget projection based on an extrapolation of the President’s FY2011 budget submission that projects roughly $700 million less funding, or $3.0 billion available over the decade. In the event that insufficient funds are available to carry out the recommended program, the first priority is to develop, launch, and operate WFIRST and to implement the Explorer program and core research program recommended augmentations. The second priority is to pursue the New Worlds Technology Development Program, as recommended, to mid-decade review by a decadal survey implementation advisory committee (as discussed in Chapter 3), to start LISA as soon as possible subject to the conditions discussed above, and to invest in IXO