WFIRST Cold Wave

February 15, 2012

Saluton Mondo. Awfully sorry about the gap in service. Busy and all that. Anyway.

So here I am in Sunny Pasadena. Last time I was here it was, like, a hundred degrees or something. This time its overcast and cold ! The locals are apologising and wearing double jumpers. But it seems appropriate because I am here for a meeting  about an infra-red astronomy mission, WFIRST . As many of you will know, WFIRST has a weird history, and is a sort of merger of various proposed missions for dark energy (JDEM), supernovae (SNAP), microlensing (err… something), and IR sky survey (NIRSS). Its pretty exciting but … Euclid is scooping some of that science, and JWST  is eating all the money.

Old chum Richard Griffiths (aka Griff), gave his NASA HQ overview the same day as the President’s proposed FY2013 budget was revealed, including the NASA budget. He wore his tin hat. You can read an overview of the impact on science in this Nature News article, but here are the astro headlines :

  • JWST clearly supported : extra $109M this year
  • Planetary science takes the hit : Exo Mars collaboration with ESA looks dead
  • WFIRST explicitly zeroed

What we were told here at the meeting is that WFIRST may or may not be the next flagship, but if it is, the faucet will not turn on until JWST launch, and then take seven years. So that sounds like a 2025 launch at earliest. Which of course gives the gravy wave and X-ray folk time to re-group.

Oh.. and when I say “zeroed” that can still include $4-5M/yr of study money, as now. But thats just short change in NASA-land…

I got temporarily over-excited on page 61, as there is a “Decadal surveys missions” wedge, with 144M in FY2013. However … this means the Earth Sciences Decadal Survey … oh well.

Meanwhile, it seems NSF overall did quite well, but I have heard no news about how astro did inside this… any reader gossip ?

Finally, in case you hadn’t heard, the Spergel report recommends that the US spend $20M on Euclid….