AST Facilities - Environmental Reviews
October 19, 2016
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.
The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.