of a summer salary, publications, and a graduate student salary, plus overhead, now exceeding $70,000 per year, the NSF grants program has dropped below a critical threshold. While an individual can, and often must, have more than one grant, such a system of support suffers from inefficiencies and often produces more proposals than research.

Support from NASA

Astronomy accounts for about 4 percent of the overall NASA budget and for about 25 percent of the budget of the Office of Space Science and Applications (see Figure B.2). Most of this money is spent on capital expenses associated with major observatory programs and increased temporarily during the mid-1980s, due in part to delays in the construction and launch of the Hubble Space Telescope. Figure B.5 shows the division between large programs (the Great Observatories); the moderate-scale Explorer program; and small projects, including the grants program, data analysis, and the Kuiper Airborne Observatory.

The NASA grants program increased during the 1980s, tracking the growth in the number of astronomers (Figure B.6). From 1982 to 1989, the average grant size remained stable at about $50,000. The small average size is due to the large number of small grants given to pay for observing with the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE). It should be pointed out, however, that the average grant is too small to support a postdoctoral fellow or, in some cases, even a graduate student. Many IUE researchers write multiple proposals to support themselves, their postdoctoral fellows, and their graduate students. In the rest of the NASA's astrophysics program, the grant sizes are significantly larger, about $83,000, although their size has decreased over the decade. The committee supports the efforts of NASA's Astrophysics Division to consolidate its large number of disparate grants programs into a smaller number.

NASA is becoming the dominant agency in astronomy grant funding. In 1982, NSF provided about 60 percent of the federal support for individual grants. By the end of the decade, NASA had provided more money for astronomy grants than had the NSF. Since several large, long-lived missions will be launched in the 1990s, NASA's grant support for data analysis is expected to increase even more.


The telescopes currently used by the majority of astronomers are ground-based instruments operating at radio, optical, and infrared wavelengths. This section lists briefly the major instruments in use around the world at these wavelengths.

Americans want to participate directly in the thrill of discovery both

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