Friday, September 30, 2005

NASA - contingency planning?

So, an unattributable, anonymous source communicates interesting hearsay:

some NASA panels have been meeting recently: for those who don't know or care, NASA reviews unsolicited research proposals in panel grouped by topic and meta-field (eg "galaxy panel" in the Astrophysical Data program). Figure 20 +/- proposals per sub-panel, and "many" sub-panels per meta-field.
You can figure that if there are 20 proposals in a sub-panel, maybe 3 +/- will be funded, depending on panel size, how the panels were divied, balancing of science priorities and total funding. Ranking is done sort of knowing that that is the deal; the 4th best proposal may be funded but is far from certain to be funded.

Well... rumour is, that this year panels are being told to provide rankings with a contingency of there being one or no funded proposals per sub-panel!

What does this mean? Well, that HQ is hoping to fund individual science PI proposals, but the funding is either not actually there, or they have been warned that funding in research pots is likely to be raided for other programs.

Since two of the bigger panels have already been canceled completely for the year (ADP and LTSA), that means there might be no general PI funding for astrophysical research from NASA this year.


Or, maybe a miracle will happen.


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