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Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium
and for grants for data analysis and the development of associated theory.
NASA follows the spirit of this recommendation in large part by including the costs of Mission Operations and Data Analysis (MO&DA) in budgetary planning for new missions. The wisdom of this approach is manifest in the wealth of discoveries and new interpretations published during the prime years of NASA missions. The committee recommends that funds for closely related theory be included in MO&DA as well; a specific proposal for “Theory Challenges” is outlined below.
The committee further recommends that the NSF include funds for (1) operations, (2) facility instruments and other capabilities that enable full exploitation of the new facility, and (3) grants for the ground-breaking research—both observational and theoretical—enabled by the new facility during its early, highly productive years. These recommendations are consistent with those of the 1991 survey. Based on the experience with several recently completed facilities, the committee has budgeted operations at 7 percent of the capital cost per year and instrumentation at 3 percent per year for the first 5 years of operation (see Chapter 6); the actual percentages should be based on the particular circumstances of the individual facility. To enable observers and theorists to explore and develop the full capabilities of new facilities, the committee recommends budgeting “facility grants” for research associated with major facilities at about 3 percent of the capital cost per year for the first 5 years. A cost-effective and competitive grants program for moderate facilities requires a somewhat higher percentage, and the committee recommends that facility grants for such facilities be budgeted at about 5 percent per year. No facility grants are recommended for small projects since the funds available would be too small. Funds for operations, instrumentation, and facility grants for a period of 5 years are included in the committee’s cost estimates for most ground-based initiatives (see the section below, “Proposed Priorities for Ground- and Space-Based Initiatives”).
Adequate funding for unrestricted grants that provide broad support for research, students, and postdoctoral associates is required to ensure the future vitality of the field; therefore new initiatives should not be undertaken at the expense of the unrestricted grants program.
A strong grants program is critical both to realize the full science value from state-of-the-art facilities and to ensure the future health of the