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FYI Number 51: April 16, 2001

NSF FY 2002 Request: Major Research Equipment, Polar Programs

NSF's "FY 2002 Budget Request to Congress" details the Major Research Equipment and U.S. Polar Programs requests. The Major Research Equipment budget would decrease 20.6%, or $25.03 million, from $121.33 million to $96.30 million. The U.S. Polar Programs budget would increase 1.2%, or $3.31 million, from $273.26 million to $276.57 million.


This account provides construction and acquisition funding for major research projects; facility operations and maintenance costs are funded through the Research and Related Activities budget. There are three projects that would be funded in FY 2002: the Large Hadron Collider, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, and Terascale Computing Systems.

Large Hadron Collider:

NSF requested $16.90 million for the Large Hadron Collider for the construction of the ATLAS and CMS detectors. NSF is contributing a total of $81.0 million in the period FY 1999- 2003; the Department of Energy is providing $450.0 million. LHC construction is scheduled to be complete by 2005.

George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation:

NSF requested $24.40 million for FY 2002. The budget document states: "The to provide a national, networked collaboratory of geographically-distributed, shared use next-generation experimental research equipment sites, with teleobservation and teleoperation capabilities." The experimental facilities construction and network integration are to be completed in FY 2004.

Terascale Computing Systems:

NSF requested $55.0 million in FY 2002. The budget document states that FY 2002 milestones are "Begin full operations of Terascale Computing Facility (initial site)" and "Begin construction of Distributed Terascale Facility (second site)".

Other Projects:

The status of other projects was reviewed by NSF in the budget document. The Atacama Large Millimeter Array would receive $9.0 million under the Research and Related Activities account "to further develop the scope and cost adjustments, to maintain the momentum and personnel base within the U.S. side of the project, and to test the 2 antenna prototypes with our European partners." Further review may determine that it is more appropriate to fund this project within the Major Research Equipment budget. No funding is requested in FY 2002 for the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research, a new atmospheric research aircraft. Funding was complete in FY 2001 for the South Pole Station Modernization program. The South Pole Safety Project is to be operational by FY 2002. Polar Support Aircraft Upgrades are scheduled for completion in FY 2001.


The U.S. Polar Research Programs budget would increase 1.5%, or $3.17 million, from $210.80 million to $213.97 million. There are five budgets within this Activity, which funds most of NSF's polar research.

The U.S. Arctic Research Program would increase 6.4%, or $2.0 million, from $31.14 million to $33.14 million. The U.S. Arctic Research Support and Logistics budget would remain level at $23.96 million. The Arctic Research Commission budget would increase 1.4%, or $0.01 million, from $1.00 to $1.02 million. The U.S. Antarctic Research Grants Program budget would increase 2.1%, or $0.75 million, from $36.50 million to $37.25 million. The budget for Operations and Science Support would increase 0.3%, or $0.41 million, from $118.20 million to $118.61 million.

The budget document describes two FY 2002 priorities for the Arctic Research Program: "NSF, in cooperation with other federal agencies, plans to initiate support for a broad, interdisciplinary, multi-scale program with the aim of understanding the complex suite of recent and ongoing interrelated environmental - atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial - changes. Plans for the program, known as Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), include: a long-term observational program to track environmental changes; a modeling program to test hypotheses about the coupling between the different environmental components and predict future changes; process studies to test hypotheses about critical feedbacks; and an assessment component to understand the ultimate impact of the change on the ecosystem and society." Also, "Support for merit reviewed oceanographic research using the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy. The Healey is the first U.S. research vessel capable of providing access to the entire Arctic Ocean."

The FY 2002 priorities for the U.S. Antarctic Research Grants Program are described in the budget document: "Preliminary support for Antarctic sub-glacial lake characterization and study, including Lake Vostok. Recent results have revealed that life has evolved in total darkness and in isolation from the atmosphere in a number of lakes buried beneath two miles of glacial ice. Support will include analysis of airborne ice-penetrating radar and laser altimetry, gravity, and magnetics data, as well as acquisition and initial analysis of basic land surface data in support of polar ecosystems characterization research." Also, "Support for a polar genomics activity. Evolutionary adaption to polar environments has been discovered in microorganisms at the genomic level, setting the stage for new areas of research addressing questions that range from evolutionary biology to the interplay between the environment and gene expression."

A second component of the U.S. Polar Programs budget is the U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities. Its budget would increase 0.2%, or $0.14 million, from $62.46 million to $62.60 million.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095


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