(Photo : Reuters)
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has put forth a recommendation to cut funding to its astronomy division. The cut could put several telescopes and facilities in danger.
The NSF reported that cuts could go as high as 50 percent, as posted in their Advancing Astronomy in the Coming Decade: Opportunities and Challenges. The cuts could see the closure of the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), the Green Bank Radio Telescope, and four other telescopes at the Kitt Peak Observatory by 2017.
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According to the NSF report, "Divestment from these highly successful, long-running facilities will be difficult for all of us in the astronomical community. We must, however, consider the science tradeoff between divesting existing facilities and the risk of devastating cuts to individual research grants, mid-scale projects, and new initiatives."
The report noted that maintaining the telescopes and facilities previously mentioned can cause further financial burdens.
The NSF's astronomy division has already been receiving less money than hoped for, receiving $45 million less than requested.
Despite the cuts issued by the NSF, their budget request for 2013 is $340 million more compared to last year, totaling to $7.37 billion.
The NSF does plan to the money for new "state-of-the-art facilities" and other projects. One of the new projects is in collaboration with NASA for a new spacecraft that is billed as the successor for the Hubble Space Telescope.
The cuts are only recommendations, and the NSF's astronomy division will be looking to alternative methods to regain the loss revenue through grants and donations.
The astronomy division director, Jim Ulvestad, said he will try to find new operators for the facilities and telescopes at risk at being shut down, however, he added that if no one makes an offer then the NSF will start shutting them down.