The line gets drawn

The results of the Science & Technology Facilities Council's Programmatic Review are now out. The Review lists all (although I think a couple may be missing) STFC-funded astronomy, particle physics and nuclear projects in order of priority. The accompanying text indicates that funds will probably only be available for 'High', 'Medium-High', and a significant part of the 'Medium-Lower' categories. That means that the following astronomy projects are now under threat (in no particular order): Astrogrid, Bepi-Colombo, BiSON, CASU/WFAU (except ESO commitment), Gemini, STP (e.g. SAMNET, EISCAT etc), HESS, Hinode, INTEGRAL, MERLIN/e-MERLIN & JIVE, UKIRT, VERITAS, ALMA Regional Centre, Auger, Cassini, Cluster, Issac Newton Group of Telescopes, SOHO, STEREO, UKSSDC, XMM Newton.

None of these projects will be cut because of scientific merit (or lack thereof). This is purely a financial result of the funding settlement from the Treasury and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. To quote the Review:

"It is important to emphasise that PPAN [Particle Physics, Astronomy, Nuclear committee] and PALS did not identify any poor quality projects in their rankings. All of the projects and facilities reviewed were doing, or would do, good science, and all were of sufficient quality to be funded."

I shall note that the PPAN and PALS committees that undertook the review consisted of scientists in those research areas. I wonder how much self-interest this process allows on the part of the committee members. Still, I don't know how else the process could be carried out.

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Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 04th Mar 2008 (12:48 CEST) | Permalink
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