In your News profile article “Sky's the limit as teams bid for NASA Project” (Nature 403, 587; 2000), Colin Macilwain implies that NASA administrator Daniel Goldin's professed enthusiasm for particle physics detector technologies would be a factor in the selection of one of two competing instruments for the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope Mission. (High-energy gamma-ray instrumentation has always drawn heavily from techniques developed for high-energy physics studies.) There is the further implication that contributions to the cost might also provide an advantage.

Although the winning team, from Stanford, contains particle physicists sponsored by the Department of Energy, this had no direct bearing on the selection. It is NASA's policy to select instruments for its missions through a peer-review process that evaluates first and foremost the proposed science and the proposed instrument's ability to achieve that science. There are other factors, but these do not include the participation of other partners, either foreign or domestic, unless they can help the team achieve their science goals.

Incidentally, your News profile stated that the competing instrument was from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC). Although MSFC did participate, along with several other institutions, the principal investigator was from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and the proposal was submitted through the university. The selected instrument also included a team from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as several other institutions, both domestic and foreign.