funding level has fluctuated, especially due to the welcome injection of ARRA5 funding, but the rough baseline is $46 million. An increase of $8 million to bring the baseline to $54 million is recommended. This increase should include the support of new opportunities in Laboratory Astrophysics.
The imminent withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the Gemini partnership will require that additional support come from the remaining partners. Set against this need is a desire to operate the telescopes more efficiently and a belief that cost savings are achievable. An augmentation of $2 million in the annual budget is recommended subject to the results of negotiations between the Gemini Board and NSF.
TSIP supports telescope instrumentation on privately operated telescopes in exchange for observing time. It is a vital component of the OIR system that was instituted following a recommendation of the 2001 decadal survey, AANM. It is currently supporting research at a rate of $2 million to $3 million per year, and an increment to $5 million per year is proposed.
This is a new competed program coordinated between NSF and DOE to support coordinated theoretical and computational attacks on selected key projects that are judged ripe for such attention. An NSF annual funding level of $2.5 million is recommended. For DOE an annual funding level of $1 million is recommended. A similar program is proposed for NASA and DOE above in the space-based program recommendations.
The field of astronomy is far more than telescopes and discoveries. It involves people—students for whom it provides a gateway to all science and technology, members of the public who share a fascination with learning about the universe, and astronomers themselves. Within the United States, it involves three science agencies, DOE, NASA, and NSF, and many individuals and private foundations that have generously supported the field in the past and promise to do so in the future.