NASA: Senior Review 2010

The verdict is out, the 2010 Senior Review Committee recommendation on the NASA Astrophysics old active missions; who will keep going, and who is recommended to get the chop.
It is an interesting list, with some interesting recommendations.

And the winners are…:

  • 1. Planck – level funding for 30 months, per request, consider 42 month extension later
  • 2. Chandra – extend to 2012 and beyond, restore and augment funding, consider automated operation, concern about spacecraft degradation
  • 3. Warm Spitzer – surprise winner! recommend $7M augmentation for 2012 and 2013, note spacecraft ends operation in Dec 2013 no matter what. Long stares at transiting exoplanets are hot. Oh, and do some extragalactic stuff maybe.
  • 4. Swift – level funding through 2014, pending future SRC reviews. Good ol’ workhorse. Concern about diminishing returns.


  • 5. XMM-Newton – ESA mission, cheap, to the US, working well. Try to get some GO funding for US observers.
  • 6. WMAP – dimishing returns, but 9 yr mission good check on Planck. Level fund and try to get minor augmentation for DA in 2011/2012.
  • 7. Suzaku – plodding along, JAXA pays, try to get minor augmentation for GO funding in outyears.


  • 8. GALEX – cut funds in 2011/2012 and close out in 2013. Ouch.
  • 9. RXTE – spacecraft degradation, could keep it going if there were any money, but there isn’t, so terminate in 2011. Hmm, heard that before, lets see what our friends in Boston have to say about it.
  • 10. INTEGRAL – ESA is going to extend it, SRC recommends terminate US contribution in 2012.
  • 11. Warm WISE – cryogen runs out, they requested more money to do a 3 month warm mission (no mid-IR) and some more software. SRC says NO!

NASA SRC full report (pdf)

Quite sensible, overall, though some hard working long operating teams will feel rather hurt.
Problem I see is the SRC recommends lots of augmentation in out years, and not enough cuts. So that requires new money. Not seeing any of that in the near future…

Looking at the committee, it is heavy on high energy, so the high ranking of warm Spitzer is a pleasant surprise – the exoplanet transit observations must be selling well in high places.


  1. #1 Jane Rigby
    May 7, 2010

    The Senior Review Committee has been heavy on high energy people for several years, if I remember right. Still, it’s good to see Warm Spitzer do well.

    Clearly, there was no truth to the rumors that Chandra and XMM might be ranked low.

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