AST Facilities - Environmental Reviews
In 2010, the National Academies conducted their sixth decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. In their report, the decadal survey committee recommended that "NSF-Astronomy should complete its next senior review before the mid-decade independent review that is recommended in this report, so as to determine which, if any, facilities NSF-AST should cease to support in order to release funds for (1) the construction and ongoing operation of new telescopes and instruments and (2) the science analysis needed to capitalize on the results from existing and future facilities." In response to this recommendation, the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) conducted a community-based review of its portfolio. The resulting Portfolio Review Committee (PRC) report (http://www.nsf.gov/mps/ast/ast_portfolio_review.jsp), was released in August 2012 and included recommendations about all of the major AST telescope facilities. A number of facilities were recommended for divestment from the AST budget by approximately FY 2017, with some recommended for future consideration for divestment. Since 2012, AST has been engaging actively in facility partnership discussions with other federal agencies and with university-based groups, and also conducting engineering feasibility assessments and preliminary environmental surveys for a number of telescope facilities. In 2016, NSF is embarking on formal environmental reviews of preliminary proposed alternatives for several facilities, which will lead to decisions about possible divestment paths.