Wednesday, March 30, 2005

bleedin' NASA - Exploration vs Science

So, at some recent past point I ranted that the breakdown of the wall between "Exploration" and "Science" at NASA might just possibly be a one way street, with science money bleeding down to exploration, to cover the fact that the Exploration initiatives are so grossly underfunded that they are essentially unfunded.

So, here we go. A "heads up" e-mail on Office of Space Science mailing list warns of an upcoming amendment to ROSES-05, the omnibus Research Announcement for Space and Earth Sciences. Wholesale cancellations and deferrments of programs. In particular ADP (Astrophysics Data Analysis) and LTSA (Long Term Space Astrophysic) are apparently to be cancelled. The former is the "non-mission specific" funding source for analysis of new and existing data; the latter is long term programs for broad multi-mission data analysis and modeling. Mostly University and contract Center funding, not in-house. The ADP carries a lot of postdoc and advanced grad students in the budgets; the LTSA is particularly important for junior researchers for long term funding stability and for getting serious chunks of money (ie advanced postdocs and untenured faculty, it can be the primary or only source of funding for many researchers at these stages, and it reduces the need to chase multiple, overlapping [and sometimes contradictory] little pots of partial funding). We may be facing a "year without jobs" for a large part of astronomy; and historically the negative perception associated with such whiplashing takes 3-5 years to dissipate, just when there was a sign of an upswing in the number of US undergrads and grads too.


"On or about March 31, 2005, Amendment No. 5 to NASA Research Announcement
"Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences" (NNH05ZDA001N) will be
posted on its homepage Web site at (select
"Solicitations" then "Open Solicitations" then "NNH05ZDA001N")."

Solicitations Canceled

-  This amendment cancels the solicitation for the Virtual Observatories
for Solar and Space Physics Data program described in Appendix A.22.

-  This amendment cancels the solicitation for the Astrophysics Data
Analysis program described in Appendix C.2.

-  This amendment cancels the solicitation for the Long Term Space
Astrophysics program described in Appendix C.3.

PS: No, I don't "know" that the cancellations are explicitly linked to any specific funding shortfall.
I do know that the ADP/LTSA program is a nice chunk of money that is vulnerable to being raided by random senior NASA managers protecting their turf as budgets get tight, and that there had been open speculation that these programs would be "taxed" as the budget tightened. Coincidence? I think not.


Blogger Keith Arnaud said...

Hi Stein,

From what I hear the Exploration Initiative isn't far enough along yet to be spending serious money. We are being hit by the cost of getting the Shuttle flying again. Not that that should make you feel any better...


4:37 PM  
Blogger Steinn said...

You mean the Space Transportation System ain't Exploration?!

What really scares me now is Griffin is calling for an accelerated development of CEV. He is correct that having a gap between CEV starting and STS closing is bad; but this also means more money up front; and I don't think the White House will request that and I don't think Congress will volunteer that.

So something has to give. Like Science. Again.

Tough catch - we can have transport, but no place to go; or we can have places to go but no way to get there. Or we could get serious about this and do it properly...

1:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home