News from the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences
Following the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in early January, here's an update from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST).
AAS Meeting Presentations
The AST Town Hall presentation, and the plenary talk by Dr. F. Fleming Crim, assistant director in charge of the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), may both be found at the AST website.
FY 2014 Budget
Congress recently passed an omnibus appropriation for the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2014, extending through 30 September 2014. This includes an appropriation for NSF that is a significant increase over the FY 2013 sequester-budget level, but well below the President’s budget request for FY 2014. It is expected that the process of generating a budget plan for NSF (including AST) and receiving approval of that plan from Congress will not be concluded until late March, at the earliest.
Effects of Sequestration
Dr. Crim recently distributed a Dear Colleague Letter to the MPS scientific community describing the effects of the sequestration in the FY 2013 budget for MPS. We invite our community to read this letter, NSF 14-026.
AST Portfolio Divestment Options
The report of the AST Portfolio Review Committee, Advancing Astronomy in the Coming Decade: Opportunities and Challenges, was delivered to the NSF in August 2012. In December 2013, AST issued Dear Colleague Letter NSF 14-022, entitled "MPS/AST Portfolio Divestment Options," to inform the community of the current status and next steps in considering the report recommendations for telescope divestments. In brief, formal consideration of alternative futures will take place for several telescopes during 2014, while consideration of other telescopes will be deferred until external triggering events take place in the future. The contents of NSF 14-022 may be accessed on the NSF website.
Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP) Pre-Proposals
AST received a total of 38 pre-proposals to its new MSIP program, advertised under solicitation NSF 13-567. The MSIP program is intended to be responsive to the number-two recommendation for large ground-based projects in the decadal survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. After review of the pre-proposals, 12 groups were invited to submit full proposals to the NSF, with a due date of 12 March 2014.