NSF provides support for large, multi-user facilities which meet the need for access to state-of-the-art research facilities that are vital to the progress of research.  Support includes funding for staff and support personnel to assist scientists and engineers in conducting research at the facilities.  Support for these unique national facilities is essential to advance U.S. research capabilities required for world-class research.  NSF supports the following facilities:


(Millions of Dollars)

1   In FY 1998, $34.67 million was carried over into FY 1999, largely in support of the South Pole Station Modernization Project.

2  Other facilities include physics, materials research, ocean sciences, atmospheric sciences, and earth sciences facilities, CESR, Gemini Observatories, and the National Nanofabrication Users Network.


The FY 2000 Request for Facilities totals $744 million, a $14 million increase over FY 1999.  Facilities operations and maintenance are funded through the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account; construction projects are funded through the Major Research Equipment (MRE) account.


In FY 2000, projects funded through the MRE account will include: $12.0 million to complete the upgrade of Polar Support Aircraft to meet Air Force safety and operability standards; $5.40 million for the continued modernization of South Pole Station; $15.90 million for the continued construction of detectors for the  international Large Hadron Collider; $8.0 million to complete the design and development phase of the Millimeter Array; and $7.70 million to begin construction on the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.  In addition, as part of the President’s Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2) Initiative, $36.0 million is requested for the acquisition of Terascale Computing Systems.  Additional information regarding these projects can be found in the MRE section.


Funding for the construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) was completed in FY 1998.  In FY 2000, $23.70 million is requested through the R&RA account for LIGO operations and research staff and for infrastructure, as installation and commissioning activities move towards initial observations planned for FY 2001.


The FY 2000 total of $44.56 million for Advanced Networking Infrastructure (ANI) includes support to bring the vBNS to 2.4 gigabits per second, and to connect about 150 universities with high performance connections to the vBNS or other high performance networks. These high performance network facilities are a part of NSF's Next Generation Internet emphasis for FY 2000. The $77.80 million requested for Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) in FY 2000 will allow expansion of both high-end and nationwide partner activities in the PACI program. Particular attention will be paid to the partner sites to create enabling technologies, applications technologies, and education, outreach, and training to broaden and accelerate the research community's ability to utilize the advanced computational capabilities provided by all PACI sites.


In FY 2000 a total of $68.82 million is requested for the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), an increase of $1.80 million over FY 1999.  This increase will be focused on support for the U.S. Weather Research Program, the National Space Weather Program, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  FY 2000 funds will also be utilized to upgrade flight safety and communications systems on NSF-owned aircraft and to continue the refurbishment of NCAR’s primary building begun in FY 1999.


An increase of $1.38 million, or about 2 percent, for the National Astronomy Centers is planned, for a total of about $71.17 million in FY 2000.  Half of this increment will be provided to the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) to enhance support for instrumentation upgrades, continued operation of the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG), and continued construction of instruments for the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS).  The remainder of the increment will be provided to the National Radio Astronomy Observatories (NRAO) to enhance support for operations and maintenance and development of new instrumentation at the Very Large Array (VLA) and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).  Funding for the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) remains level with FY 1999.


FY 2000 support for the operation of the Academic Research Fleet will total $44.0 million.  This increase of $1.75 million will enhance technical and shared-use instrumentation for research projects to reduce financial and management burdens on research project awards to sea going scientists, and will continue ship-improvement programs to provide a modern and efficiently operated academic research fleet.


A total of $12.60 million is requested for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), an increment of $1.3 million over FY 1999.  Funding will enhance operation and deployment of the Global Seismic Network and enhance the Data Management System which makes available data on seismic events to researchers world-wide.


FY 2000 support for the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) facilities will total $32.0 million, including a $900,000 increment to continue technical support,  technology development, and operations support jointly with international partners at a level to ensure research project requirements are met and to support new scientific and operational development to extend capabilities for deep biosphere investigations.


Among other facilities, NSF will provide funding for the fourth year of a five year upgrade of the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL) at Michigan State University, support for the operation and maintenance of the newly upgraded Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) at Cornell University, and continued support for operation of the Gemini Observatories and for the National Nanofabrication Users Network.  In addition, Polar Science Operations and Logistics increases to $184.96 million for continued data handling and communications and facilities upgrades.


FY 2000 Results Goals for Research Facilities


Investment in the development and operation of state-of-the-art research facilities is a basic strategy in support of NSF’s outcome goal for discoveries at and across the frontier of science and engineering.  Such investments also contribute to “connections” and “workforce” goals by providing access to tools and techniques that are valuable beyond the arena of academic research and by providing opportunities for students at all levels to participate in frontier research.  In addressing the performance goals for results described in the Research Project Support section, results obtained through NSF-supported facilities are also considered.


Facilities must operate efficiently and reliably and must offer appropriate opportunities if they are to be valuable to those they serve.  NSF program officers work closely with facilities’ directors to ensure that facilities have appropriate resources to conduct operations and to provide maintenance that promises reliable operations.  The following NSF goal describes the performance standards that will be used to assess facilities operations:


FY 2000 Annual Performance Goal for Research Facilities 1, 2



Performance Area


Performance Goal




Keep operating time lost due to unscheduled downtime to less than 10% of the total scheduled possible operating time, on average.



FY 2000 Investment Goals for Research Facilities Construction and Upgrade


Planning for unique, state-of-the-art facilities must take into account the exploratory nature of the facilities themselves.  Planning and budgeting are interconnected in NSF’s decision-making process for determining which projects will go forward for funding.  The following performance goals for facilities construction and upgrades are applicable to the projects in the Major Research Equipment (MRE) account:


FY 2000 Annual Performance Goals for Research Facilities Construction and Upgrades 1, 2


Performance Area
Performance Goal


Facilities Oversight



Construction and upgrades


Keep construction and upgrades within annual expenditure plan, not to  exceed 110 percent of estimates.


Keep construction and upgrades within annual schedule, total time required for major components of the project not to exceed 110 percent of estimates.


For all construction and upgrade projects initiated after 1996, keep total cost within 110 percent of estimates made at the initiation of construction.

1Performance goals comparable to those in italics are highlighted in the FY 2000 government-wide performance plan.

2These performance goals are unchanged from the FY 1999 goals.


Research Facilities Highlights


Surfaces and Cells:  Synchrotron-based studies of materials continue to produce fascinating discoveries. 


·         An interdisciplinary team at Cornell University has used the synchrotron X-ray scattering facility at the Cornell High-Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS) to observe atomic layers disappearing in real time during the erosion of a single crystal metal surface with energetic ions.  The detailed shape of the surface is strongly temperature-dependent, giving clues to the fundamental atomic-scale mechanisms that control structure during processing.  The erosion of surfaces with energetic ions is an important step in many crystal growth and semiconductor processing techniques; fine control of surface structure will enable scientists to produce patterned and wavy surfaces on crystals, with important application for advanced technologies such as information storage.


·         Another CHESS user determined the structure of the potassium ion channel from the bacterium Streptomyces lividans.  This structure can explain how the channel functions to control the passive flow of potassium ions across cell membranes – a process necessary for producing electrical signals in the nervous system.


·         Using the Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center, a team of researchers from Wisconsin and the Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne, Switzerland, is developing imaging techniques to study the uptake of foreign elements in brain cells and other biological tissue, including the incorporation of boron into cancerous brain tissue.  Synchrotron-based imaging proved to be the best tool for the detection of boron, with much higher chemical sensitivity and spatial resolution than conventional histochemical techniques.  The technique may open up the way for a new type of cancer therapy.


An Accelerating Universe:  During 1998, the discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate was a major breakthrough in cosmology.  Research performed by two international groups using telescopes at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) found that the universe is actually accelerating, rather than decelerating as would have been expected if gravity alone acted on large-distance scales.  This implies the existence of a repulsive force opposing gravity at cosmological distances, and also suggests a current dynamical age of 14 billion years for the Universe, consistent with the ages of the oldest reliably dated objects.  The discovery of this acceleration was selected as the major scientific breakthrough of 1998 by Science magazine.


Watching the Southern Skies:  A new 3,000 square foot Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO) facility was completed at the South Pole, replacing a previously used facility, and will continue to support science projects which were first conducted at the 1956-1957 International Geophysical Year Station.  ARO will be used by scientists to determine and assess the long term buildup of global pollutants in the atmosphere, study the ozone, study the vertical structure and dynamics of the atmosphere from the lower stratosphere to the mesopause, conduct UV-monitoring, and effluent aerosol measurements.  It was at the South Pole that the "ozone hole" was first discovered.


Transition of U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) Operations and Logistics Support:  The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) has worked with the Department of Defense (DOD) to determine the best mix of DOD and commercial resources to support the USAP.  OPP has transitioned support functions from the Navy to civilian contractors and to other DOD organizations.  March 1999 will mark the end of the Navy’s support for logistics.  The transition, although extremely complex and involving hundreds of people over a number of years, was transparent to the ultimate customers:  the scientists conducting research in Antarctica.  This extremely successful transition of support has resulted in reduced environmental impact to Antarctica due to a reduced number of personnel providing the support, and eliminated duplication of effort.

As the World Churns – Modeling Convection in the Earth’s Mantle:  The Earth's outer crust is only a few miles thick--thinner, in proportion, than the shell of an egg. Between the crust and the molten core lies the mantle, nearly 3,000 kilometers of rock at temperatures and pressures so high that it behaves like a thick liquid.  Modeling the mantle's convection process is extremely challenging.  The numerical model must deal with complex material properties, including solid-state phase transitions, chemical composition differences, and thermodynamic properties that depend on both pressure and temperature. One of the greatest complications is that rock viscosity depends strongly on temperature and changes by several orders of magnitude.  Because of these complexities, most previous studies used a highly simplified version of the mantle, with most simulations performed in two dimensions.


To better understand the behavior of the mantle, NSF-supported researchers used the processing power provided by supercomputers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the leading-edge site of the National Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, to perform increasingly complex and realistic 3-D simulations with unprecedented realism and complexity.  These simulations allow researchers to discover things that are not obvious from the model inputs or from observations and are proving to be useful.  They yield data sets that can be compared statistically to geophysical observations, such as 3-D maps of long-wavelength seismic velocity variations in the Earth's interior obtained by seismic tomography. The results strongly resemble what can be inferred of our planet's interior from geological and seismological observations, and should ultimately lead to a better understanding of the physics of earthquakes.


Arctic Logistics:  In the Arctic, field stations and large instrument facilities enable research in the Arctic, including Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia, and Scandinavia.  Support is provided through Polar Programs and other NSF Activities.  Within the Polar Programs Activity, increased emphasis is given to Arctic logistics, including year-round access to the environment.  For the first time in the history of NSF's Arctic Research Program, a group of researchers has over-wintered at a remote camp at Summit, on the Greenland ice sheet, making possible the examination of the entire annual cycle of air and snow chemistry.  In a previous project at the site, NSF extracted the northern hemisphere's longest ice core.  This core and others provide an "archive" of over 100,000 years of climate information.  The annual layers in the ice cores store a detailed atmospheric record, as well as traces of volcanic eruptions, forest fires, ocean storms, atomic bombs and pollution.  The ice core record from the Greenland Ice Sheet Project has been analyzed for traces of atmospheric chemistry, but the results could not be fully assessed until a complete annual record of present chemistry became available.  Data collected during the recent project will be used to determine how closely changes in ice composition actually record the changing chemistry of the atmosphere.  Ultimately these studies will result in better interpretation of climate history and how humans are affecting climate.


High School Students Discover Distant Asteroid:  High school students from Northfield Mount Hermon School in Northfield, Massachusetts discovered a previously unidentified celestial object in the Kuiper Belt  using images from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) 4-meter Blanco Telescope in Chile.  Northfield Mount Hermon School is one of six Asteroid Search Teams participating in NSF's innovative Hands-On Universe Program, which began in 1990 through support from the Education and Human Resources Activity, and is now based at the University of California-Berkeley.  The asteroid was approximately 100 miles in diameter and is officially called 1998 FS144.  Astronomy teacher Hughes Pack directed the students' search of computer images provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Supernova Cosmology Program.  A collaborating team, students from Pennsylvania's Oil City Area High School, confirmed the  location of 1998 FS144 for their peers at Northfield Mount Hermon. The Oil City students were led by teacher Tim Spuck, a 1998 Pennsylvania Christa McAuliffe Fellow.  For pictures of KBO 1998 FS144 see: For more information on the Hands-On Universe Project see:


The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) has recently embarked on an ambitious education and outreach program.  The IRIS Education and Outreach program contributes to the Princeton Earth Physics Project, which puts seismometers of research value and associated Web-based curricula in middle school and high school classrooms and provides workshops for teachers participating in the project.  IRIS regularly conducts workshops for teachers on earthquakes, seismology and related Earth science either at national meetings such as the National Science Teachers Association or locally through IRIS member institutions.  Public outreach materials include hardcopy and web-based publications, in particular a global earthquake viewer on the IRIS web site and an interactive public display on tour with the Franklin Institute’s “Powers of Nature” exhibit, currently at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.  Other activities include a partnership with Teach For America aimed at serving under-resourced schools.

Description Of Nsf Facilities



Academic Research Fleet


The Academic Research Fleet includes ships, submersibles and large shipboard equipment necessary to support NSF-funded research and the training of oceanographers.  Twenty-eight ships are included in the U.S. academic fleet, operated on behalf of the research community, primarily through NSF funds.  Large ships are used for distant-water, expeditionary projects such as global change research; intermediate-sized ships support individual investigator research; and smaller regional ships are available for local and coastal research.  Special purpose ships are used for submersible and remotely operated vehicle studies.  NSF’s FY 2000 support for the Academic Research Fleet totals approximately $44.0 million, a $1.75 million or 4.1 percent increase over FY 1999.


Advanced Networking Infrastructure (ANI)


ANI activities enable and expand scholarly communication and collaboration by providing network access for researchers and educators to high performance, remote scientific facilities including supercomputer facilities and information resources.  The very high performance Backbone Network Service (vBNS), together with the high performance connections program, has led to the development of a new level of networking for the nation's research universities.  ANI participates in the interagency Next Generation Internet activity to complement the university-led Internet 2 effort jointly supported by the participating universities and the private sector.  ANI, in the Next Generation Internet initiative, focuses on advanced, high performance network connectivity between research institutions and contributes to the basic infrastructure for high-end research applications. NSF's FY 2000 support for ANI facilities is about $45.0 million, an increase of $660,000, or 1.5 percent, over FY 1999.


Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS)


IRIS was created in 1986 to install a global network of seismometers, provide portable seismometers for regional studies, and establish a data management system to provide on-line, distributed access to data on global seismic activity. The IRIS facility serves the needs of the national and international seismology community by making available seismic sensors and data acquisition systems.  In addition, the Global Seismic Network operated by IRIS is a backup system for test ban treaty monitoring and was instrumental in detection and analysis of the recent India and Pakistan nuclear tests.  NSF’s FY 2000 support for IRIS totals about $12.60 million, $1.30 million or 11.5 percent over FY 1999.


Large Hadron Collider (LHC)


The Large Hadron Collider will be constructed at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, by a consortium of more than 25 nations. It will be the world's highest energy accelerator facility. NSF participation includes contributing to the construction of two high-energy particle detectors, ATLAS (A Toroidal Large Angle Spectrometer) and CMS (the Compact Muon Solenoid). The ATLAS and CMS detectors will be the major data collecting instruments at the LHC facility, providing partially redundant and partially complementary information aimed at maximizing the chance of discovery.  CMS will emphasize precise tracking of muons following decay of heavy particles such as the Higgs particle, while ATLAS, which incorporates both solenoidal and toroidal field magnetic elements, will emphasize better overall acceptance and better calorimetry for reconstructing the total energy of the decay products, especially neutrals.  Both of these detectors will operate at extremely high data rates, which will push the state-of-the-art technology of electronic triggers, data acquisition, and data analysis.  The FY 2000 Budget Request is $15.90 million; total NSF funding for both ATLAS and CMS will equal $80.9 million over five years. 


Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)


The LIGO construction project began in FY 1992 as a collaboration between physicists and engineers at the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to test the dynamical features of Einstein's theory of gravitation and to study the properties of intense gravitational fields from their radiation.  LIGO consists of identical, but widely separated detectors (one in Hanford, Washington, and the other in Livingston, Louisiana) that will be used for fundamental physics experiments directly detecting gravitational waves and gathering data on their sources.  In FY 2000, $23.70 million is requested for LIGO operations funding, provided through the R&RA Account, as it continues into a projected three year instrumentation commissioning phase.


Millimeter Array (MMA)


The Millimeter Array is planned to be an aperture-synthesis radio telescope operating in the wavelength range from 3 to 0.4 mm, consisting of 40 8-meter diameter radio telescopes located at the same site and electronically linked. This would make MMA the world's most sensitive, highest resolution, millimeter-wavelength telescope.  It will combine an angular resolution comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope with the sensitivity of a single antenna more than fifty meters in diameter.  The completed MMA would provide a testing ground for theories of star birth and stellar evolution, galaxy formation and evolution, and the evolution of the Universe itself, reveal the inner workings of the central black hole “engines” which power quasars, and make possible a search for earth-like planets around hundreds of nearby stars.  In FY 2000, NSF will provide $8.0 million for the final year of a three-year Design and Development Phase for the MMA.  Following this phase, NSF will decide whether to proceed to the second phase, a five year capital construction phase.


National Astronomy Centers


There are three National Astronomy Centers, which receive approximately seven percent of their funding from non-NSF sources:


The main facility of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC) is the 305-meter-diameter radio and radar telescope located at Arecibo, Puerto Rico.   NAIC is a visitor-oriented national research center devoted to scientific investigations in radio and radar astronomy and atmospheric sciences.  NAIC provides telescope users with a wide range of research and observing instrumentation, including receivers, transmitters, movable line feeds, and digital data acquisition and processing equipment.  A major upgrade to the radio telescope and radar was recently completed.  In FY 2000, emphasis will be placed on development of instrumentation to take advantage of its new capabilities.


The National Optical Astronomy Observatories (NOAO) is the national center for research in ground-based optical and infrared astronomy.  NOAO includes Kitt Peak National Observatory, outside Tucson, Arizona; Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, in Chile; and the National Solar Observatory, in Arizona and New Mexico.  Large optical telescopes, observing equipment, and research support services are made available to qualified scientists.  In FY 2000, the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG) at NOAO will continue monitoring small-scale oscillations of the sun, permitting studies of the sun’s interior structure.  NOAO research will also include the development of instrumentation for the Synoptic Optical Long-term Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS), to enable refined studies of the Sun’s atmosphere and surface, including determining conditions which give rise to solar flares.


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is headquartered at Charlottesville, Virginia, and operates radio telescopes at sites in Arizona, New Mexico, and West Virginia.  NRAO makes radio astronomy facilities available to qualified visiting scientists and provides staff to help them to use the large radio antennas, receivers, and other equipment needed to detect, measure, and identify radio waves from astronomical objects.


NSF’s FY 2000 support for the National Astronomy Centers totals approximately $71 million, about a $1.4 million or roughly two percent increase over FY 1999.


National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)


NCAR facilities serve the entire atmospheric sciences research community and part of the ocean sciences community.  Facilities available to university, NCAR, and other researchers include an advanced computational center providing resources and services well suited for the development and execution of large models and for the archiving and manipulation of large data sets.  NCAR also provides research aircraft which can be equipped with sensors to measure dynamic, physical, and chemical states of the atmosphere.  In addition, one airborne and one portable ground-based radar and other surface sensing systems are available for atmospheric research.  Roughly 25 percent of the funding for NCAR facilities is provided by non-NSF sources.  In FY 2000, more than 1,500 researchers and students will use the facilities, and approximately 150 visiting scientists will stay for extended periods.  NSF’s FY 2000 support for NCAR totals approximately $69 million, an increase of about $2 million, or 3 percent over FY 1999.


National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL)


Research using high magnetic fields plays a key role in advancing our knowledge of the physical, chemical, biological and engineering properties of materials.  Activities at the NHMFL include support and further development of user and in-house research, educational programs and partnership with the private sector, and development of a new generation of magnet systems.  The NHMFL is operated by Florida State University, the University of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.  The NHMFL became fully operational in FY 1995.  About 54 percent of NHMFL funds are currently provided by non-NSF sources, with more than $140 million provided by the State of Florida to date. NSF’s FY 2000 support for the NHMFL totals approximately $18 million, the same level as in FY 1999.


Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES)


The Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation will be developed to include geographically distributed and network-interconnected physical facilities constructed under cooperative agreements with NSF.  The NEES project will upgrade, modernize, expand and network major facilities including:  (a) shake tables used for earthquake simulations; (b) large reaction walls for pseudo-dynamic testing; (c) centrifuges for testing soils under earthquake loading; and (d) field testing facilities.  The NEES project will transform earthquake engineering research from its current reliance on physical experiments to investigations based on integrated models, databases and model-based simulation, and will exploit Internet technology to integrate and interconnect these nationally distributed facilities with a computer network to afford remote access. The NEES network will provide interoperability, resource sharing, scalable and efficient net-wide deployment, open-system standardization, database consistency and integrity, and modularity in both software and hardware architectures. The FY 2000 Budget Request for construction of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation is $7.70 million.  Total NSF funding for this project, including both the experimental facilities and the network, is $81.90 million over the period FY 2000-2004.


Ocean Drilling Program Facilities


The Ocean Drilling Program is a multinational program of basic scientific research in the oceans which uses drilling and data from drill holes to improve fundamental understanding of the role of physical, chemical, and biological processes in the geological history, structure, and evolution of the oceanic portion of the Earth's crust.  Operational support for this activity is shared by six international partners, comprising 18 other countries.  In FY 1999 the JOIDES Resolution, the ship used by the Ocean Drilling Program, is completing its planned two year mid-life refit.  This refit is necessary to extend the life of the ship into the next century and has been scheduled to minimize the impact on the conduct of science.  NSF’s FY 2000 support for Ocean Drilling Program facilities totals approximately $32 million, almost 3 percent over FY 1999.


Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI)


Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure provides access to, and support for, high-end computing for the national scientific community, and the development and application of the necessary software, tools and algorithms for their use on scalable, widely distributed resources. The $77.80 million requested for PACI in FY 2000 will permit the PACI network, now in its second year, to enter the era of terascale computing. In FY 2000, emphasis will be on integrating a multi-teraflops capability while strengthening the partner sites ability to provide the enabling technologies that will build the "information grid" of the next century. The education, outreach and training component of PACI will continue to broaden and accelerate the capability of the nation to utilize the advanced computational capabilities being developed.


Polar Science Operations and Logistics


Polar facilities make research possible in the remote and hazardous Antarctic continent, where all infrastructure must be provided.  Three Antarctic research stations are maintained -- McMurdo, South Pole and Palmer.  Other facilities include ski-equipped aircraft,  helicopters, research vessels (including a specially constructed ice-breaking research vessel), and an ice-strengthened supply and support ship.  Logistical support for polar facilities is supplied in part by DOD.  Over 650 researchers and students utilize the Antarctic facilities each year.  In addition, support for Arctic facilities is provided primarily for research in the geosciences and biosciences.  Arctic facilities include camps and sites for studies of greenhouse gases, monitoring stations for research on ultra-violet radiation, ice coring sites for studies of global climate history, high latitude radar observatories and magnetometers for upper atmospheric research, and the use of a vessel from the academic research fleet for oceanographic research in the Arctic sea.  NSF’s FY 2000 support for Polar Science Operations and Logistics totals approximately $185 million, almost a four percent increase over FY 1999.


Polar Support Aircraft Upgrades


LC-130 ski equipped aircraft support the Foundation’s polar missions in both the Arctic and the Antarctic.  The nation’s fleet of LC-130s is owned by the Air National Guard (ANG) and the National Science Foundation.  The operation and maintenance of the NSF-owned aircraft is under transition from the Navy to the ANG, as the ANG assumes single-point management of the LC-130 fleet in March of 1999.  As part of this transition, some NSF-owned aircraft must be modified and upgraded to meet Air Force safety and operability standards.  Upgrades were initiated in FY 1998.  The FY 2000 request includes $12 million to complete upgrades for a third NSF-owned aircraft.


South Pole Station


The U.S. research station at the South Pole has unique advantages for conducting forefront science in earth seismology, astronomy, astrophysics and atmospheric chemistry.  However, Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was completed in 1975.  In addition to aging infrastructure, the station has code and safety deficiencies that, left uncorrected, will pose risks to personnel and negatively impact operations.


In FY 1997, the South Pole Safety Project addressed the most immediate critical safety and environmental concerns at the station.  In FY 1998, the Foundation initiated the modernization of South Pole Station with an appropriation from Congress of $70 million.  The FY 2000 request of $5.40 million continues the South Pole Station Modernization project, consistent with the recommendations of the special U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel (April 1997).  Total NSF funding for the South Pole Station is $127.90 million over the period FY 1998 – FY 2001.

Terascale Computing Systems


Access to leading edge computing capabilities is critical to ensuring that the Nation’s academic researchers remain at the cutting edge of computational science investigations, and is essential for educating the next generation of computer and computational scientists. As part of the initiative in Information Technology for the 21st Century (IT2), the Foundation requests $36.0 million for Terascale Computing Systems.  This project will provide access to scalable, balanced, terascale computing resources for the broad-based academic science and engineering community served by NSF. The resulting systems will be connected to the existing Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) network, and coordinated with other agencies, such as the Department of Energy, to leverage the software, tools, and technology investments, while ensuring a full and open competition.