The Astropy Project, which provides software tools and infrastructure to facilitate research by professional astronomers, has received a $900,000 grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Funding will be administered by NumFOCUS—the largest grant NumFOCUS has received to date.
The proposal, “Sustaining and Growing the Astropy Project,” is aimed at supporting Astropy’s transition to a fully sustainable project, where success no longer hinges on a limited set of contributors. This will be accomplished by:
1) using targeted funding to ensure that critical parts of Astropy continue to be maintained by retaining core team members who may otherwise leave,
2) building a self-sustaining long-term user to contributor to maintainer pipeline, and
3) formalizing the governance and management structure which will make the project more compelling to federal funding agencies.
Funding from the Moore Foundation will support critical members of Astropy to maintain existing infrastructure and functionality while also developing crucial missing functionality, such as spectroscopic reduction and analysis. It will also help grow and increase the diversity of the project by actively recruiting and mentoring individuals who can become contributors and, eventually, core maintainers. In addition, Astropy will formalize its governance and management structure, which is a requirement to obtain the federal funding that can provide long-term resources for the project. This will give Astropy the stable base it needs to provide the astronomy community with a fertile space to build the advanced analysis tools necessary for the coming decade of data-driven science, which will be essential for enabling scientific discoveries.
The Astropy Project was started in 2011 by researchers and software developers and became a NumFOCUS sponsored project in 2014. Astropy has achieved its original ambitious twofold goal to 1) develop a single core Python package to provide the foundational tools for astronomy research, and 2) build an ecosystem of usable, interoperable, and collaborative astronomy Python packages (now numbering over 40). As a result, over the last five years, the Astropy ecosystem and the tools built on top of it have been used for research presented in thousands of refereed publications. Astropy has also played a key role in prominent scientific breakthroughs such as the creation of the first image of a black hole.
NumFOCUS congratulates the Astropy Project’s leadership and all of the Astropy contributors for securing this important grant funding and for all of their successes to date.