Tag Archives: NIST 2019 Budget Request

FY 2019 NIST budget looks good for time stations

WWV Chief Engineer Matt Deutch. (Photo: Thomas Witherspoon)

Many thanks to the number of SWLing Post readers who have forwarded this article from the ARRL News that notes the WWV Special Event Station, planned for later this year, is a go. This is great news indeed.

With regards to the FY2019 budget uncertainty surrounding NIST radio stations WWV, WWVH and WWVB, the ARRL notes:

“The NIST budget for WWV, WWVH, and WWVB will remain level for FY 2019.”

As I mentioned in a recent post, this is the feedback I’ve received as well–that the portion of the budget that includes NIST radios station will remain the same as it was last year. Last year, the NIST internally-allocated funds for the stations and it appears it will this will happen again! Brilliant news, indeed.

With that said, I do wonder if the next budget request (which is only a few months away) will include all of the NIST radio stations.

Time will tell…

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Astronomers organizing to save WWV

As an amateur astronomer, I knew it was only a matter of time before the astronomical community became involved to save WWV.  Specifically, it’s a group of mostly amateur astronomers who observe and record occultations.

What’s an occultation?  It’s the term when a solar system object passes in front of, and blocks out a star.  Why is this important to observe?  Lunar occultations are the easiest to observe (if the star is bright enough, one can do a crude observation with binoculars or even the unaided eye).  But there is very valuable science to be had with smaller objects.  When a dwarf planet [like Pluto] or an asteroid – passes in front of, and “blinks” out or blocks the light of a star – measurements can be taken that reveal the dwarf planet or asteroid’s size/diameter.  We can even determine if an object is round/oval – or maybe cigar-shaped when multiple ground observers record and accurately time how long the star “blinks” (or if the star doesn’t get covered by the asteroid in some locations but does in others). Okay, that is Occultations 101 (if you are interested in learning more, see the link).

Credit: Upcoming occultation – showing the path where the occultation is visible – from IOTA: International Occultation Timing Association

Note 1: In 2017, amateur astronomers using a 3” telescope determined that an asteroid had a moon!I had a 3” telescope, back in the 1970s, when I was a kid!

Credit: Sky and Telescope Magazine & IOTA: the International Occultation Timing Association

Note 2: Multiple occultation observations involving the dwarf planet Pluto (and its next target – a “KBO”) are helping scientists navigate the New Horizons space probe (and to identify hazards) as it speeds through space to its next target – nicknamed Ultima Thule – beyond Pluto (on January 1st, 2019).

Equipment used to record and document these fleeting events (some graze occultations only last fractions of a second) requires – you guessed it – time stamped video devices.  Back in the old days before video and other advanced equipment, astronomers would sit a shortwave radio next to the telescope with a tape recorder to audibly capture & record the time signal with the observer noting the start/stop of the event (we’ve come a long way since then – time stamped equipment has advanced this from “approximately” to “exact science”!).

The main point of this blog entry: astronomers have been asked to sign the White House petition to maintain NIST stations funding. Sky & Telescope Magazine, if they haven’t already, will be posting an article with an interview that they conducted with one of the leading occultation observers that includes a link to the petition on their web site.

Let’s hope this momentum continues to build – and that it makes a difference!

Guest Post by Troy Riedel.

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Interview with Scott Simon of NPR regarding potential time station shutdowns

My recording booth at Radio-Canada/CBC Québec City

Hi, folks!  If you just heard me on  NPR’s Weekend Edition regarding the NIST Budget cuts to WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, welcome, and stick around! This is where the SWLing Post (and other projects we work on, such as the Shortwave Archive, the Radio Spectrum Archive, and the non-profit, Ears to Our World) serve up all things shortwave.  Here, we discuss both the fun (and importance) of this cool old-school medium that, remarkably enough, still has relevance even in our internet-interconnected world.

And for our regular Post readers:  on Thursday afternoon, I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Scott Simon of NPR via Radio Canada/CBC in Québec City, QC, Canada. More on that to come.

The show (with the SWLing Post bit) aired just this morning. You can click here to listen via NPR’s website, or via the embedded player below:


I feel especially chuffed that NPR would give the topic of WWV some exposure. This piece wasn’t so much a call to action as simply building awareness of what the shutdown of our national pacemaker––in the form of WWVB time station––might mean to the average person who has a self-setting wall clock, or watch (most of us do).  (Even at NPR, they’ll be asking, Now, where did we store that stepladder?)

Or what it might mean to the shortwaves themselves, which we in North America may appreciate a source of nostalgia or entertainment––and, yes, handy for keeping time––we have to recognize that there are still pockets of our world, especially in remote, rural, and/or war-torn regions, where shortwave radio is especially vital.

So, something that belongs to all of us––yet another example of a global source of information––may soon be taken away.  If you disagree with this proposal, I urge you to contact your local representatives, and sign this White House petition.

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NIST: Official response to closure questions

WWV building in Fort Collins, Colorado (photo courtesy: NIST)

I’ve just received the following formal response from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) regarding the President’s NIST FY 2019 budget request:

(Source: NIST)

NIST has a long-standing history of providing time and frequency services through our radio stations and we appreciate that many people use these services.   NIST’s WWV is the longest continuously-operating radio service in the U.S.  At the same time, the proposed NIST budget for FY 2019 required difficult choices about budget priorities.

The President’s full NIST FY 2019 budget request to the Congress is available at the link below, including a brief description of why the shutdown of NIST’s time and frequency radio stations is proposed. The proposal includes shutdown of NIST’s three radio stations, WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, which communicate with consumer clocks, watches, broadcasting systems and other devices. It is important to note that no changes to NIST services have occurred, and if the proposal were to be implemented, public notice would be provided.

http://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/budget/FY19CBJ/NIST_and_NTIS_FY2019_President’s_Budget_for_508_comp.pdf. See page NIST-25.  

Here is a link to the NIST Budget Table for the FY2019 Presidential Request.

Also, for context, it may be helpful to view links to press releases issued in May and June 2018 by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Committees on Appropriations about the FY2019 budget process.

House

Senate

This response leaves no room for debate: all three NIST radio stations–WWV, WWVH and WWVB–are included in the proposed cuts.

Of course, we’re following this story closely. Bookmark and check the tag WWV for updates.

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Information from the NIST regarding possible closure WWV radio stations

WWV’s transmitter building in Fort Collins, Colorado (2014)

Regarding the NIST FY2019 budget which includes a request to shutdown WWV, WWVH, and WWVB, many of you have been asking if there has been an update.

We will keep you posted as this budget moves through the process, but in the meantime I’ll share the feedback and links provided by Gail Porter, Public Relations Director for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Ms. Porter writes:

We are proud of the time and frequency services we provide through our radio stations and understand that these services are important to many people.

As you likely know, the President proposes budgets for executive branch agencies and then the Congress considers that request before determining funding levels for each agency and passing an appropriations law to implement a budget for a given year.

The President’s full NIST FY 2019 budget request to the Congress is available at the link below, including a brief description of why the shutdown of the radio stations is proposed: http://www.osec.doc.gov/bmi/budget/FY19CBJ/NIST_and_NTIS_FY2019_President’s_Budget_for_508_comp.pdf. see page NIST-25.

[…]The sentence below, which appears on page NIST 25, is the best description we have available to respond to your question.

“To consolidate and focus work on NIST efforts in quantum science, while maintaining essential core capabilities in measurement science research and measurement dissemination NIST will eliminate efforts that have been replaced by newer technologies, measurement science work that lies outside of NIST’s core mission space, and programs that can no longer be supported due to facility deterioration.”

[…]Here is a link to the NIST Budget Table for the FY2019 Presidential Request.

Also, in case these are of interest, here are links to press releases issued in May and June 2018 by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate Committees’ on Appropriations about the FY2019 budget process:

House

Senate

Hope this information is helpful.

Many readers have been asking if all NIST stations are included in these cuts–the answer is yes.

If this budget passes as written, WWV, WWVH, and WWVB will all be closed.

If you value these NIST time stations, I would encourage you to contact your local representatives, and sign this White House petition.

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