In his presentation to the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, NSF AST Director Jim Ulvestad provided guidance on the NSF MPS Astronomy (AST) budget projections that can only be described as dire. The signals from NSF AST imply that some existing facilities such as KPNO (and possibly other NOAO facilities or sites) may be closed and some popular programs eliminated in response to the budget pressures, significantly altering the landscape of ground-based astronomy. As described in the Currents article, the possibility of drastic changes in the near term calls for careful planning and consultation with the community so that US ground-based OIR astronomy emerges stronger rather than crippled by this process.
We have created an online community forum to enable such a discussion. Possible discussion topics include the following.
1. One of the NSF AST’s principles for budget decisions is to “maintain a robust individual investigator program to enable a broad base of astronomical research across the country” (slide 26). NOAO’s open access policy enables such a program. How important are NOAO facilities and programs to your research and education programs?
2. Protecting funding for existing international commitments within a flat or declining NSF/AST budget means fewer dollars for ground-based OIR astronomy. Since AST’s budget is declining in real terms, some of these dollars are leaving astronomy all together. What are your priorities for how the remaining dollars should be spent?
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Last updated or reviewed July 7, 2012.