I have once more ventured within one of the strange spiky toroidal concrete circles that envelope US centers of power,
and I emerge with unverified anecdotal speculative rumours
NASA HQ people (science, natch) are amazingly cheerful.
Hadn’t seen them so cheerful, overall, for a long time.
More money has been allocated to Research and Analysis lines, in the current round, retroactively, kinda without telling anyone.
So success rates for current proposal rounds are in the double digits. Over 10%.
Actually, probably over 20%. I’ve heard some crazy doods mention 25% or even 33% or even 50% funding rate for some programs.
This is supposed to be sustained – they’re aiming for 33% long term funding rate, as recommended by an NRC review. (I see some problems with that, once the community figures out they mean it – the demand side of the supply/demand thing might change).
Proposal reviews are being expedited, awards are to be announced early, OMB willing, and funds to be sent out. There is of course the looming cloud of budget passage of the 2008 budget, with possibly veto and continuing resolutions etc
There is, reputedly, some intent for agencies to spend the funding appropriated as if it had passed – I am slightly queasy about this, on the one hand NASA and other agencies will actually have funding, eventually, they are not going to shut down, probably. On the other hand, going ahead with spending of funds in the absence of a passed and signed budget appropriations bill sounds like bad long term precedent, another tip to a dominating executive and a passive Congress which exists just to rubber stamp bills written and originated by the Executive.
Times like this I get flashbacks to history of the late Roman Republic…
Oh, the much beloved LTSA may re-emerge, in some form.
LTSA, for ye young ‘uns – is Long Term Space Astrophysics – a larger, longer duration and more “blue sky” less mission oriented research line.
Was a time a junior faculty who hit the LTSA jackpot could tick off a big box on the “things that get people tenure” list.
I also heard, anecdotally, that NASA was well aware of this – they had an internal NSF like attitude on this – and they were Not Amused when they heard of people who had got LTSAs and then not got tenure.
I hadn’t realised they tracked things at this level.
Sounds like the “new LTSA” will be maximum of 4 years, but that is better than nothing.
I also hear that proposal criteria will be subtly loosened.
That more ground based observation components can be included in supporting space based research, and that the boundaries between mission lines can be blurred so people can actually work on, like, more than one thing at the same time.
This is all hearsay, anecdotal and don’t blame me if none of it is true.
I may have more, later, or not.
In the meantime, back in the real world, I see there is a new Hubble Space Telescope oppurtunity: Lunar Observing.
HST has no functioning spectroscope.
NICMOS broadband photometry, anyone?