playing a clear leadership role. However, reconciling the outcome and timing of three different decision-making processes is a challenge.


Revolutionary discoveries in astronomy over the past two decades have broadened the field and created new interfaces with other areas of science—particle physics (the birth and early evolution of the universe, cosmic rays, dark matter, and dark energy), nuclear physics (the origin of the chemical elements and neutron star structure), gravitational physics (black holes and gravitational waves), planetary science (the solar system and exoplanets), computer science (analysis of large data sets), and soon biology (life in the universe). Today, astronomical research involves not only astronomers, but also scientists from many other fields, especially physics. Thus there are more funding agencies involved, which necessitates careful handling of the complex interfaces between them.

Currently the NASA Astrophysics Division budget within the Science Mission Directorate is roughly $1.1 billion per year (including construction of major facilities); NSF-AST within the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) is $250 million per year. Funding from NSF-OPP and NSF-PHY is about $10 million and $20 million, respectively, with an additional $30 million per year going to operations for the Advanced LIGO. DOE OHEP within the Office of Science funds particle astrophysics at a level of about $100 million per year. Whereas NSF-AST funds investigator-driven research broadly in the astrophysical sciences and NASA’s Astrophysics Division funds space-mission-driven astrophysics research broadly defined, the interests of DOE’s OHEP and NSF-PHY and NSF-OPP are more focused. With so many agencies involved, coordination is critical to obtaining optimal value, in terms of both scientific return and cost-effectiveness. Understanding the different missions and cultures of the funding agencies is a prerequisite to optimizing investment.

  • DOE Office of High Energy Physics. DOE is a mission agency, and OHEP’s mission is to seek a fundamental understanding of matter, energy, space, and time, which resonates strongly with much of the research at the frontier of astrophysics. The bulk of the program consists of the construction and operation of high-energy particle accelerators and the support of the scientists who use them. OHEP’s interest in particle astrophysics has been spurred by the recognition that dark matter is likely to be a new form of matter, that dark energy may be a new fundamental field, and that the universe may well be the best laboratory for making progress in testing ideas about the unification of the forces and particles of nature. The

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