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Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer
American Astronomical Society

Videos from the 223rd AAS meeting held in Washington, DC, in January 2014 are now online for viewing by AAS members. You must sign in using your AAS username and password to watch the videos; if you're not already signed in, click the "Sign In" link in the upper-right corner of the page.

There are two sets of videos: slidecasts of plenary sessions, and recordings of press-conference webcasts. The slidecasts include presentation slides accompanied by audio of the lectures. Some invited talks and prize lectures aren't included, for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the speaker didn't give us permission to record and post his or her presentation, (2) the quality of the recording was substandard, or (3) a technical glitch prevented the successful recording of the audio and/or presentation slides.

Meeting videos are available exclusively to AAS members for six months following the meeting, after which they're open to viewing by nonmembers and the public. Press-conference videos are available to the public within days of being recorded via our Archived AAS Press Conference Webcasts page.

Joshua H. Shiode
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, the Obama Administration rolled out the top-line information on the President's Budget Request for FY 2015, the fiscal year beginning 1 October 2014. Details below the top lines, other than a handful of policy bullet points, are not due for release until early next week. We will be delving much deeper into all the changes once we process that information; so for now, here's just a brief look at the top-line requests for NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Divisions.1

Let's start with an update of the figure from several posts ago on the SMD budget, with additional data for the FY 2014 Omnibus and FY 2015 President's Budget Request (two right-most bars). As before, the thin white horizontal lines mark increments of $100M (in then-year dollars). It's important to keep in mind that the FY 2014 Omnibus numbers are only approximate, as the agency is still negotiating its operating plan with Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The operating plan, as the name suggests, is NASA's plan for implementing the Congressional direction in its appropriations bill and accompanying report. 

As it's a bit hard to discern the magnitude of changes above, the next two plots show direct comparisons between the FY 2015 request and FY 2013 (post-Sequester) enacted budget, FY 2014 requestFY 2014 omnibus, and the "notional" FY 2015 budget contained in the FY 2014 request. Changes for the total SMD budget are shown in addition to the Division budgets. The first plot shows comparisons grouped by division and the second grouped by the baseline being referenced.

In FY 2013, federal budgets were slashed by the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester; so comparsion to that year demonstrates how far the FY 2015 request goes toward undoing those harsh cuts. Comparison to the FY 2014 request shows any evolution in Administration priorities, while Comparison to the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill passed in January demonstrates the difference between the Administration's current priorities and a recent census of those in Congress. NASA Division managers are asked to plan for the future using the "notional" budgets in each year's request—despite the fact that the notional budgets carry no commitment from the Administration. As such, comparison to the notional FY 2015 budget from the FY 2014 request demonstrates how much each Division would have to deviate from its prior planning if this new request were enacted by Congress (highly unlikely). 

It is important to keep in mind that the President requested some $44B more in total discretionary spending in FY 2014 ($1.058T) compared to FY 2015 ($1.014T), as the Administration ignored the sequester in its FY 2014 request. This new request (other than the "Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative") adheres to the total discretionary budget numbers in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which relieved little of the sequester impact for FY 2015. The James Webb Space Telescope is included for completeness, but the project is adhering to the budget profile laid out when the project was rebaselined in 2011 (reflected in the lack of change from the FY 2015 notional budget).

1The NSF and DOE budget information released yesterday did not get down to the level of detail necessary to analyze the implications for the Astronomy Division at NSF and the Cosmic Frontier program at DOE's Office of Science.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer
American Astronomical Society


With President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal due next week and the appropriations season starting on Capitol Hill, a coalition of 14 business, higher education, and scientific organizations today launched a creative video that urges Congress to close the innovation deficit with strong federal investments in research and higher education.

The four-minute video, featuring rapidly hand-drawn images and text, can be viewed on the Close the Innovation Deficit website. It explains the direct link between basic research, economic growth, improved medical treatments, and national security; the risk that recent cuts to research pose to the United States’ role as the global innovation leader at a time when other nations are rapidly increasing their research investments; and the significant benefits that renewed investments in research would bring the country.

The innovation deficit is the gap between actual and needed federal investments in research and higher education at a time when other nations such as China, India, and Singapore are dramatically boosting research funding to develop the next great technological and medical breakthroughs.

The 14 organizations behind the Close the Innovation Deficit video are the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Council on Education (ACE), American Heart Association, Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), Council on Competitiveness (CoC), Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), Task Force on American Innovation (TFAI; of which the AAS is a member), The Science Coalition (TSC), and United for Medical Research (UMR).

The Close the Innovation Deficit campaign is an effort by these and other organizations that are concerned about cuts and stagnating federal investments in research and higher education. The groups, including the AAS, believe the U.S. must make strong and sustained investments in these areas to develop the people, ideas, and innovations needed to ensure that the U.S. maintains its role as global leader. The groups believe that the growth supported by innovation will help address the nation’s long-term fiscal problems.

According to the National Science Board, the U.S. share of global research and development (R&D) declined from 37% to 30% since 2001. During the same period, the economies of East and Southeast Asia and South Asia — including China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan — saw an increase in their combined share from 25% to 34% of the global total. The pace of growth over the past 10 years in China’s overall R&D remains exceptionally high at about 18% annually adjusted for inflation, propelling it to 14.5% of the global total in 2011, up from 2.2% in 2000.

In addition to the new video, the redesigned Close the Innovation Deficit website now features an array of compelling charts that detail the impact that U.S. cuts and foreign investments are having on the nation’s role as innovation leader.

— Adapted from a press release (342-kilobyte PDF) issued by the AAU and APLU.

Mia Hartman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory announces the availability of observing time for the 2014B semester, August 2014 - January 2015. The facilities available this semester include the Gemini North and South telescopes, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (includ­ing SOAR), Kitt Peak National Observatory (including WIYN), as well as time available on the Subaru 8.2-meter telescope and the 4-meter Anglo-Australian Telescope through exchange programs.

Details of instrumentation, observing modes, schedules, and proposal submission instructions are available on the NOAO webpage.

Proposals are due no later than 11:59 pm MST (Mountain Standard Time) on Monday, 31 March 2014.

Doris Daou
Associate Director
NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute

The Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) is pleased to announce the first annual NASA Exploration Science Forum (ESF), to be held 21-23 July 2014 at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. There will be no registration fees to attend the forum, and it is an excellent opportunity for students to meet a broad science and exploration community.

Registration for the forum and abstract submissions can now be found on the SSERVI website.

The deadline for abstract submission is midnight PDT 26 April 2014.

Abstracts are being solicitied for the following topics relevant to human exploration targets of interest (the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, Phobos/Deimos): dust/regolith, exosphere/plasma Interactions, geology, geophysics, human exploration, missions (including science enabled by robotic, human, and commercial missions), radiation, robotics, sample return (including robotic-assisted through telepresence), volatiles, ISRU, astro/heliophysics (including space weathering), and public outreach.

Many of the ESF topics are of relevance to NASA's Global Exploration Roadmap. To further discussion with the science community, NASA will conduct a separate session on the Global Exploration Roadmap on 24 July immediately following the Exploration Science Forum.

The next announcement (April 2014) will discuss Exploration Science Forum logistics (hotel accommodations, parking, and no-host meals). Registration for the forum is FREE and will remain open until 6 July, so please register early. International visitors must register by 26 May 2014 in order to process your NASA visitor information.