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FEDERAL FUNDING OF ASTRONOMICAL RESEARCH
FIGURE 2.2 Overall funding of astronomy by NASA and NSF. Astro/NSF and Astro/NASA are the relative fractions of the NSF and NASA research and development budgets allocated to astronomy and astrophysics research (right-hand scale). SOURCES: 1991 Decadal Report (1981-1985), NSF and NASA (1986-1999).
Figure 2.2, an updated version of Figure B.2 of the 1991 Decadal Report, shows the overall funding of astronomy by NSF and NASA and the fraction of the agency budgets allocated to astronomical research. It makes clear that NASA dominates the total funding for astronomical research, as it has since at least 1981. This is due, of course, to the large amount of NASA funding going into space astronomy projects such as the HST; the Advanced X-ray Astronomy Facility (AXAF), now called the Chandra X-ray Observatory (hereinafter Chandra); and the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF).
More interesting from the perspective of the current study is whether there has been a shift in the grant funding to individual researchers from NSF to NASA. Figure 2.3, Figure 2.4 through Figure 2.5 update the information presented in the 1991 Decadal Report.
Support from NSF
The 1991 Decadal Report documented a steady decline in the fraction of the total NSF research budget allocated to astronomy, from a historical level of more than 6 percent to about 5 percent by the end of the decade. A similar trend occurred in the 1990s. As Figure 2.2 indicates, the fraction of NSF funding going to astronomical research at the end of the decade was a little more than 5 percent of the NSF R&D budget. However, between 1990 and 1995, the funding level was higher, typically 7 to 8