NASA: word on LISA and astrophysics

NASA has some official word on what is going on in astrophysics in general and with LISA in particular.

LISA and IXO ended.
Teams supported through Oct '11, if budget is not cut more.
New concept studies.

LISA and Changes in the Cosmic Vision Programme (pdf)

LISA and Changes in the Cosmic Vision Programme

"Based on discussions with the European Space Agency (ESA) at the recent ESA- NASA bilateral meeting, we provide the following information concerning LISA. Readers are advised to refer to any ESA postings - when available - for details and clarifications regarding the Cosmic Vision Programme.
LISA was competing with x-ray and outer-planets missions for the L1 opportunity in ESA's Cosmic Vision Programme (2015-2025). The decadal rankings and NASA's constrained out-year resources, projected in the President's FY12 Budget Request, led ESA to conclude that none of the three mission concepts were feasible within the Cosmic Vision L1 schedule.
ESA has ended the study of LISA and the other concepts as partnerships at the scale proposed in the New Worlds New Horizons decadal survey (NWNH). ESA has begun a rapid definition effort that includes the formation of a new science team (to be announced shortly). That effort will identify science goals and a mission concept that can be implemented as part of an ESA-led mission launching in the early 2020's. Revised mission concepts from the three science areas will be considered in a selection process commencing in February 2012.
A future minor role for NASA in the ESA-led mission has not been ruled out. NASA will participate in the new ESA science team through a "NASA-HQ empowered scientist." That representative will be a civil servant scientist who will act as conduit for input from and information to the US science community.
NASA's Astrophysics Division plans to continue base funding for the LISA study team through FY11, assuming not-larger-than-anticipated cuts from Congress. The Division will engage the community about strategic investments in gravitational wave astrophysics and possible solicitations for new concept studies, in the context of NWNH recommendations and projected resources. A US science team will be asked to provide input from the community on the way forward in gravitational wave astronomy including scientific and technical assessments.

I am informed that this is an official statement.
Something will no doubt follow on IXO, and ESA will say something also.

Yes, ESA's action to reconceive the L-class missions triggered this, but the root cause is NASA reprioritizing and not having the funding to stick with committments.
Note below, that discussion of how to do international collaboration is a topic of immediate concern for NASA Astrophysics.

The NASA Advisory Committee, Astrophysics Subcommittee also met on April 7th and the status of the astrophysics division was presented.

NAC Astrophysics April 7 agenda and files

The WFIRST Progress Report (pdf) makes for an interesting read.

Jon Morse Astrophysics Division Update (pdf) - some feelgood stuff in the lead, yes NASA still does kickass science.
Slide 8 has the meat on IXO and LISA:

â¢Consideration of the LISA and IXO concepts with the scale and partnerships as proposed to the NWNH decadal survey is ended
â¢NASA-APD plans to continue the base funding for the LISA and IXO teams through FY11 (pending not-larger-than-anticipated cuts in appropriations from Congress)
â¢NASA-APD will consult with the community about strategic investments in gravity wave and X-ray astrophysics in future years in the context of the NWNH recommendations and projected resource availability (after the JWST re-baseline is known)
-APD will engage community through discussions and possible solicitations for new concept studies, in parallel with on-going interactions with ESA re-scoped L1 mission candidates


More like this

Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious ship which will peer far and wide... The European Space Agency is being very sensible and mapping out its schedule for large and medium science missions for the medium term, under the Cosmic Vision program. In particular, the first of the large missions, L1, has…
IXO and LISA are dead and disbanded as NASA missions. We are looking at a very thin pipeline and few new missions for a while, unless there is drastic new direction from above and strong guidance on funding. NASA is a mission oriented agency. This is especially true of Astrophysics. At any given…
"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nabokov The wonderful images we take of deep space -- from distant galaxies to all the stars, clusters, and nebulae within our own galaxy --…
The European Space Agency has made its selection for the next Large Mission to be flown by ESA, with a launch window in about 2022 and the winner is... JUICE Jupiter moons orbiter. Formerly known as Laplace. The losers were ATHENA - a descoped version of IXO, the third version of the next…

That WFIRST report is hysterical (in a "boy am I glad I don't have to do THAT" kind of way)

Nothing on cuts (or shutdowns) for currently operating missions? I am glad I'm not on the WFIRST committee!

What a bummer. I was really looking forward to seeing what fruits LISA would bear us.

Linear extrapolation suggests WFIRST will never fly....

I remember in 1999 when SNAP was 7 years off. Now it's successor (two iterations down the road) is 10 years off. That may not be as rapid a rate of recession as effective nuclear fusion power, but it's still a nice trend line.