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NSF Support for International Facilities

NSF Support for International Facilities

The Foundation is the primary supporter of a number of facilities that are predominantly international in character. Some of these facilities are located overseas, in which cases there are explicit frameworks for multinational support, with foreign contributions often provided in-kind. In those cases where the facilities are located on U.S. soil, construction and operating costs are most often (but not always) borne by the Foundation.The Gemini North telescope dedicated on June 25, 1999, near the summit of Hawaii's Mauna Kea, is an example of international cost-sharing of a facility on US soil. (NSF Media Advisory PA/M 99-16)

Overseas Facilities

The international facilities supported by NSF/MPS in the Astronomical Sciences include:

Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory NSF is responsible for the design, development, and construction of facilities for ground-based astronomy research. An early example is the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO) constructed in Chile more than 25 years ago. Since such facilities are increasingly complex and costly, it is more and more common to seek partnerships, including international ones, to enhance scientific, technical, and educational value and increase cost effectiveness.

CTIO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy Inc. (AURA), under a cooperative agreement with NSF/MPS as part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO); AURA also is the operating agency for the US portion of the Gemini Observatories.CTIO has annual operating costs of about $6.5 million.

Diagram; caption below
Cosmic shear: the light from distant galaxies is distorted by dark matter.

Astrophysicists announced in the May 11, 2000 issue of Nature. the first observations of cosmological shear, an effect predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity. The discovery casts light on the distribution of the dark matter that makes up much of the universe. Using CTIO and a method known as weak gravitational lensing, the scientists were the first to map the distribution of dark matter over large swaths of the sky. (NSF Press Release 00-29)

NSF/MPS serves as the executive agency for the Gemini Observatory, an international project with seven partner nations (the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina).

The Gemini Observatory consists of two 8-meter telescopes, one located at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, (Gemini North) and Cerro Pachón in central Chile (Gemini South), and hence provides full coverage of both hemispheres of the sky. Both telescopes incorporate new technologies that allow large, relatively thin mirrors under active control to collect and focus both optical and infrared radiation from space. Gemini North began science operations in mid-2000 and Gemini South about a year later.(NSF Media Advisory PA/M 99-16)

This image of the Circinus Galaxy was taken with NOAO's Abu infrared camera during testing at the Gemini South telescope.

Under the Gemini Fellowships program, postdoctoral scholars from the Gemini partner countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Chile are brought to US institutions on research fellowships. In FY2000 AURA initiated a program, in cooperation with Fondacion Andes, to provide opportunities for Chilean graduate students to pursue doctoral degrees in the US.

NSF/MPS is also involved in the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) project, a developing international partnership with the European community, to place a new radio facility in northern Chile. Potential future partners are Canada and Japan. NSF provided funds for design and development of the facility for 3 years. The project is preparing to move into the last year of design and development before project construction. The European partnership, should the project move forward, will provide 50% of total project funding.

MMA site
ALMA conceptual image courtesy of the European Southern Observatory (ESO)

NSF/MPS, in partnership with the Department of Energy, is involved in the development of a major international high energy physics project, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), that will be located at CERN(European Laboratory for Particle Physics) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The LHC is an accelerator which brings protons and ions into head-on collisions at higher energies than ever achieved before. This will allow scientists to penetrate still further into the structure of matter and recreate the conditions prevailing in the early universe, just after the "Big Bang".

The LHC will be built astride the Franco-Swiss border west of Geneva, at the foot of the Jura mountains, in front of the Alps. Support for this project will be provided by several European countries and the US. NSF and the DOE would contribute to the construction of two detectors for this facility. LHC and Lepton Machine

Another example of the NSF/MPS role in funding large detectors is the Pierre Auger cosmic ray detector project. This is a multinational effort in which NSF/MPS and DOE are contributing equally to the construction costs. The US costs will be $15 million, about 15% of the total. NSF and DOE share the responsibilities for oversight of the US part, with neither agency designated as lead. NSF-supported researchers are leading this project.

The Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA) is a consortium of US universities run from the University of Chicago. CARA is an NSF Science and Technology Center (STC). The STC Program is administered through the Office of Integrative Activities (OIP) at NSF. The activities of CARA include the siting of telescopes in Antarctica. CARA is funded and managed by NSF/OPP.

astronomical observatory at the South Pole

The photo shows the Viper Telescope (operated by CARA) at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. In 1998, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, using the Viper microwave telescope made a crucial measurement of cosmic background radiation that may help science to settle a fundamental question of whether the universe will expand forever or collapse back upon itself. (NSF Press Release 98-88) CARA collaborates and shares instrumentation with The Joint Australian Centre for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (JACARA), and works with UK and German astronomers.

The Cape Roberts Project, supported by NSF/OPP, is an international ocean-floor drilling program aimed at recovering paleoenvironmental records from the time when ice sheets were just showing up on Antarctica through the time when the ice sheets became basically a permanent feature. In 1998, the first evidence of large volcanic eruptions that shook Antarctica around 25 million years ago was discovered in rock cores retrieved from the seabed under the auspices of the Project. (NSF Press Release 98-78)

Cape Roberts Project The Cape Roberts Project involves 7 countries (US, New Zealand, Italy, UK, Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands). The drilling was completed in FY2000, but science cooperation is ongoing and continues through FY 2001.

OPP has a myrid of international collaborations on a wide variety of scales. For the Antarctic Program, the U.S. Antarctic Program, 1999-2000 report captures something of this extensive international partnering. Formal mechanisms include the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP, a U.S. initiative, administered by the American Geophysical Union). OPP has also been extensively involved in Arctic Council activities. This high level intergovernmental forum addresses environmental protection and sustainable development in the Arctic region. OPP participates in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), an international multi-year program to assess the impact and effects of climate change, including environmental, human health, social and economic impacts.

The research and education facilities of the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) in Costa Rica receive support from NSF/BIO. OTS is a nonprofit consortium of 64 universities and research institutions in the US, Costa Rica, Perú, Canada, South Africa, México and Australia. OTS provides graduate, undergraduate and professional training, facilitates research, maintains three biological stations in Costa Rica, participates in conservation activities and conducts environmental education programs.

International Research Centers and Facilities in the United States

All NSF-supported research facilities in the United States are open to visiting scientists and students from other countries. Some facilities, however, are explicitly committed to international service, often having institutional agreements and arrangements with partner institutions in other countries.

Examples of such facilities are:

The NSF/GEO National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) engages in a number of collaborative programs involving atmospheric research institutions in Canada, Germany, Australia, and Russia. The Annual Scientific Report for 2000 serves to provide a sense of the breadth of recent collaboration.

ELDORA (ELectra DOppler RAdar) is an airborne, dual beam, meteorological research radar developed jointly at NCAR and the Centre de Recherches en Physique de L'Environnement Terrestre et Planetaire (CRPE), France. The largest single instrument ever developed at NCAR, ELDORA mounted aboard Electra aircraft tracks tornadoes and the thunderstorms that spawn them.

COSMIC is the Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate, a joint U.S.-Taiwan project. This experimental program uses a constellation of six micro-satellites to provide the data derived from the Global Positioning System (GPS) for research in meteorology, ionosphere and climate.

COSMIC microsatelliteThis proof-of-concept experiment is managed by the NSF-supported University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), with additional US support from NOAA, NASA, USAF, and ONR. The National Science Council (NSC) of Taiwan provides a large share of the support for this project.

NSF/BIO supports the Arabidopsis Biological Resource Center (ABRC) at Ohio State University (See "Global Scale Projects" section in this Report) which serves a worldwide research community by providing collection, preservation and distribution of seeds, and DNA clone and library storage and DNA clone distribution services. The ABRC database functions and ordering system are incorporated into TAIR , a searchable relational database.

Aerial view of Livingston Observatory

LIGO Livingston Observatory
Livingston, Louisiana

Aerial view of Hanford Observatory

LIGO Hanford Observatory
Hanford, Washington

The NSF/MPS Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a facility dedicated to detection of cosmic gravitational waves and the harnessing of these waves for scientific research. It consists of two widely separated installations -- one in Washington and the other in Louisiana -- operated as a single observatory.

LIGO is being built by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). LIGO will function as a national resource for both physics and astrophysics and is becoming part of a planned worldwide network of gravitational-wave observatories.

VIRGOThe NSF/MPS Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) is part of an international network of interferometric gravitational wave detectors under development, including the France-Italy VIRGO project.

LIGO has agreements with VIRGO and collaborations with the UK-Germany GEO; with TAMA 300, the Japanese project, and with AIGO, Australia's proposed southern hemisphere gravitational wave observatory. the Construction Sites.

Global Change Research Program

The University of Wisconsin’s Synchrotron Radiation Center, supported by NSF/MPS Materials Research (DMR), as a national user facility, receives international financial support from the Canadian government, from the Ecole Polytechnique (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Lausanne, and from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (Italian National Research Council) (CNR)to help underwrite the cost of researchers from these countries using this facility.

A collaboration in soft X-ray spectromicroscopy between the Ecole Polytechnique and Wisconsin is developing the electron imaging spectromicroscope MEPHISTO to study the uptake of foreign elements in brain cells and other biological tissue. Other work with MEPHISTO spectromicroscopy involves collaboration with scientists with the Istituto di Struttura della Materia (ISM) in Rome, part of the CNR. A collaboration in photochemistry between McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and Wisconsin is aimed at breaking molecular bonds selectively by excitations from core levels of specific atoms in a molecule.

There are no foreign resources provided directly to other national user facilities for NSF/MPS Materials Research. These facilities maintain an open door policy, without user fees, and provide access to their instruments on a competitive basis, giving priority to U.S. researchers.

The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL), which is operated by Florida State University (FSU), Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Florida, with NSF/MPS funding, is extensively engaged in collaborations with international organizations to advance magnet technologies that enhance high field research research magnets. The expertise generated in the design and fabrication of high field research magnets extends far beyond Florida and Los Alamos to Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The NHMFL pulsed field magnets have become an increasingly popular commodity among other pulsed field laboratories around the globe and reliable pulsed magnets are being fabricated for the following organizations: Technische Universitat in Austria; University of Braunschweig, Dresden Research Centre, and Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Germany; University of New South Wales in Australia; Ruppin Institute of Higher Education in Israel; and Service National des Champs Magnetiques Pulses in France. In addition, the NHMFL has provided specialized technical information related to high field magnet technology and high-strength materials to the magnet laboratories at the University of Amsterdam and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Researchers involved with the NHMFL's Pulsed Field Magnets have maintained a long-standing relationship with the Bochvar Institute in Moscow, Russia. Likewise, magnets designed and engineered by the NHMFL are being procured by the National Research Institute for Metals (NRIM) in Tsukuba, Japan. Collaborations with the Grenoble High Magnetic Field Laboratory have generated cost savings measures in resistive magnets for both laboratories. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Nijmegen High Field Magnet Laboratory(Netherlands) in 1999 to pursue joint production of resistive magnet coils for the major upgrade of this facility.

Essentially all of the NSF/MPS Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) have active international collaborations ranging from interactions among individual scientists to Center supported workshops and symposia, as well as student and faculty exchange programs.

Global Change Research Program

The Princeton Center for Complex Metals (PCCM) hosted in July 2000 the International Conference on Solid Films and Surfaces (ICSFS-10).ICSFS, previously held in Tokyo (1978), Washington (1981), Sydney (1984), Hamamatsu (1987),Providence (1989), Paris (1992), Hsinchu (1994), Osaka (1996) and Copenhagen (1998), is a very important forum of discussion of the latest experimental and theoretical advances in the field of solid films and surfaces. ICSFS typically attracts 200-250 scientists from all over the world.

The Materials Research Laboratory(MRL) at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) was pivotal to a five-year, $15-million alliance formed in February 2001 to support research and education in advanced materials and in solid state lighting and displays between UCSB and Mitsubishi Chemical."

International collaborations were specifically identified as areas of importance in the MRSEC Program Solicitation of 1999, and continues to be in the FY 2001 mcompetition.

NSF/MPS physics-supported centers and facilities, such as the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics (JILA), the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR), the Institute for Theoretical Atomic and Molecular Physics (ITAMP), and others, host visiting researchers from other countries, much as many U.S. scientists conduct research at similar facilities in other countries.

As an example, as one of the world's foremost research and teaching institutes, JILA is an international center for collaborative research. The unique Visiting Fellows Program brings distinguished scientists from all over the world to JILA for up to 12 months to collaborate with resident scientists. The presence and participation of these visiting scientists is an important contribution to the atmosphere of scientific excellence at JILA.

Much of the science being conducted by JILA research groups is interdisciplinary, encompassing areas such as new states of matter (Bose-Einstein condensates), materials processing and nanometrology. Velocity-distribution data that confirm the discovery of a new state of matter, the Bose-Einstein condensate. The two right-most images, corresponding to lower temperatures, show multiple atoms coalescing into a single macroscopic quantum state. Bose-Eintstein condensate

The facilities and centers supported by NSF/MPS Mathematical Sciences, such as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) engage in exchanges of mathematical scientists with other countries. MSRI organized a workshop for October 2001 -- the NSF-funded Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute (PASI) on Inverse Problems (IP).One important objective of the PASI on IP Workshop is to foster international cooperation throughout the Americas by bringing different areas of expertise in the field of IP together in one event. Several of the PASIs funded so far have their own websites.

The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) was founded by and receives major support from Mathematical Sciences. It also receives support and direction from its Participating Institutions (including the National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) in the Netherlands and the "Istituto per le Applicazioni del Calcolo" M. Picone (IAC), the largest mathematical institute of the Italian National Research Council" (CNR)) and ; Participating Corporations, including international firms such as Siemens.

The NSF funds several Science and Technology Centers (STCs) and Engineering Research Centers (ERCs), which promote long-term collaborative research across disciplines and at the forefront of scientific frontiers. NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Centers (I/UCRCs) develop long-term partnerships among industry, academe, and government.

Many of these centers have developed substantial international activities. As an example, increasingly, I/UCRCs are involved in international collaborations. In one partnership, the Queen's University at Belfast (I/UCRC) QUESTOR is providing a test bed for the University of Arizona I/UCRC for Microcontamination Control (EEC-9810181). The Queen's University will study the microbiology of organisms in a copper chemical/mechanical process pilot system and how they interact and obtain food (with support from the Northern Ireland Research and Technology Unit).

There is also a recently established collaboration between the I/UCRC for Low Power Electronics (CLPE) at the University of Arizona and the Silesian University of Technology in Poland, with an MOU signed in FY 2000. The MOU incorporates the capabilities of the Polish partners in industrial applications of mixed-signal low power electronics to complement the CLPE focus on low voltage, low power microelectronic circuits for portable, battery operated systems such as pagers, cellular phones, laptops, etc.

earthquake picture

NSF funds ERCs in earthquake engineering at three universities: University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, the University of California-Berkeley (PEER) and the State University of New York-Buffalo (NCEER). In invaluable collaborations, the American centers are working with Japan's renowned earthquake research centers, INCEDE in Tokyo and the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI) in Kyoto on earthquake disaster mitigation.

Since 1998, ENG has provided over one million dollars per year (matched by the Japanese) to support projects on earthquake mitigation. There have been approximately 40 projects in the areas of: performance-based design and engineering, integrated social science research, advanced steel structures, geotechnical engineering systems and advanced technologies.

In one US-Japan Cooperative Research award, "Performance of Improved Ground under Strong Seismic Loading," parallel studies of improved ground to serve as a basis for performance based design are being conducted at PEER in collaboration with UC Davis National Geotechnical Centrifuge, and in Japan with the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) and the Port and Airport Research Institute (PARI). earthquake

Overall, the earthquake hazard mitigation work of NSF Earthquake Engineering Research Centers develops the knowledge that will estimate seismic hazard and enhance the reliability and performance of the world's infrastructure systems. This work was identified as one of NSF's major accomplishments, in celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2000. In the future, NSF will fund the development of a vast new virtual center — the George E. Brown, Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) — which will link experimenters and analysts worldwide in an Internet-based system created to share experiments, results, observations and models.

A number of NSF Science and Technology Centers (STCs) are conducting joint research and visiting scientist programs with partner institutions in Asia, Europe, Canada and Israel. Among these are the NSF Biological Sciences Directorate's (BIO) Center for Light Microscope Imaging and Biotechnology (CLMIB) at Carnegie Mellon University. The Center's research extends beyond Carnegie Mellon through collaborative projects with other academic institutions across the US and in Europe.

BIO's Michigan State University Center for Microbial Ecology (CME) founded in 1989 as one of the first eleven STCs " graduated" in FY2000. International recognition of the Center led to several unique collaborative agreements. One of these was with two institutes in Japan focused on the microbial evolution of catabolic pathways. The Center also established collaborative research programs with Russian scientists on microbial communities preserved in permafrost soils that are millions of years old and on the genetic and biochemical characterization of microorganisms with novel biodegradation traits.

Another collaboration was established between scientists from the Center and the National Institute for Resources and the Environment (NIRE) in Japan. The focus of this collaboration was to develop and use novel methods to assess the distribution in the environment of genes required for the catabolism of pollutants. These collaborations provided our students with exposure to excellent and unique science and a perspective of how science is conducted in other cultures. The Center also initiated an international collaboration to integrate existing databases with information on microorganisms. The goal was to enhance access to these databases in ways that would allow investigators to understand better the evolutionary relationships among microorganisms and their characteristics. This collaboration included the American Type Culture Collection, the Japanese Collection of Microorganisms, the German Culture Collection, the Ribosomal Database Project , and Bergey's Manual Trust.

NSF Computer Science and Engineering Directorate's (CISE) Graphics and Visualization Center researchers are working in advisory capacities with Wholly Light Graphics in Jerusalem, Israel, the Center for Complex Systems and Visualization, Bremen, Germany, and the Fraunhofer Center for Research in Computer Graphics (CRCG), based in Providence, Rhode Island. Two Center researchers hold positions on the technical advisory board of CRCG, and Fraunhofer IGD, the parent company, based in Darmstadt, Germany, chose Providence, Rhode Island as the site for its only US branch in order to be near the Center site at Brown University

Both the Center and the CRCG are working on large-scale telecollaboration projects. The CRCG is supplying the Center with a Barco Baron stereoscopic rear-display table so that gestural modeling techniques can be integrated into CRCG's custom CAD system. The Center will also benefit from the CRCG's ATM connection with Fraunhofer IGD in Darmstadt and will contribute to the development and testing of VRTP (Virtual Reality Transfer Protocol), among other projects.

International activities at the Cornell Center site have provided the University of Bristol in the UK reflectance measurements of paint samples for the purpose of studying in detail the perceptual equivalence of a real and a very accurately modeled virtual scene. These measurements are also being made available with the Cornell archive of data from the Light Measurement Lab .

The NSF Physical and Mathematical Sciences Directorate's (MPS) Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO). works closely with international colleagues. Canada's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) will collaborate in point spread function determination and
Global Change Research Program
astronomical image processing and a collaboration with the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) compares system performance at an adjacent site to the Keck Observatory.

The NSF Physical and Mathematical Sciences Directorate's (MPS) Center for Adaptive Optics (CfAO). works closely with international colleagues. Canada's Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) will collaborate in point spread function determination and astronomical image processing and a collaboration with the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) compares system performance at an adjacent site to the Keck Observatory.

Another NSF center with international activities is the MPS Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes In FY 2000, the Center provided outreach and educational tours of laboratory facilities (primarily at North Carolina State University(NCSU) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)) to academic professionals from international institutions from China, Japan, Canada, Brazil, and Italy in response to requests for knowledge about high-pressure equipment and instrumentation necessary to conduct experiments in CO2.

The Geological Sciences Directorate's (GEO) Center for Clouds, Chemistry, and Climate (C4) is involved in the Indian Ocean Experiment (INDOEX). In the INDOEX program, premier environmental scientists and university and goverment institutions from the US, Europe and Indian Ocean region collected in-situ data on the regional cooling effect of sulfate and other aerosols. Building on data collected 1995-1998, an intense field campaign was undertaken during January to April, 1999. Field data was used to calibrate National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Earth Observing System (EOS) instruments to obtain a regional map of the aerosol cooling effect. In conjunction with the regional scale satellite data, the field data was used to include aerosol effects in global warming prediction models.

LMDand CNES (the French Space Agency) launched during the INDOEX Intensive Field Phase (January -February 1999), Tropospheric balloons designed
Kaashidhoo Climate Observatory
to measure along their trajectories pressure, temperature, water vapor and wind velocity (through successive Global Positioning Systems (GPS) positions).

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