Weiler's Lament About SIM Spin

Editor's update: It would seem, according to this email (below) from GSFC Center Director (and former Space Science AA) Ed Weiler, that SIM (Space Interferometry Mission) is being promoted via a "stretch of the truth" as a mission capable of searching for "Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars.". Weiler notes: "Just a plea for truth in advertising in these interesting times..."

From: Edward Weiler
Sent: Thu Mar 09 11:02:20 2006
Subject: error?

former oss colleagues...

when we sold sim, years ago, it was sold and designed as a machine that would primarily find gas giant planets, and, if you were within a tiny, tiny fraction of the galaxy, namely within 30 light years of the sun, you had a shot of finding a few 3 earth mass rocky planets, maybe, if they exist.

how did this suddenly get translated into "SIM project will search for Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars..." in the newly minted NASA Strategic Plan on page 12? Has physics changed? Is it different on the West Coast vs. the East Coast? Seems like a bit of a stretch of the truth considering most of the planets that a SIM will find are gas giant sized. Again, since I started this program as Origins Director, got it funded and sold it year after year as AA/OSS, and, I am an astronomer, I believe some forces are "stretching" the truth here. Kepler finds earth-like planets! I would hate to see that CRITICAL mission short-changed as the "real" earth finder and statistics builder.

Just a plea for truth in advertising in these interesting times...Plus... if Kepler shows us that earths are very rare, say 1 in a million stars... some might say we can forget SIM since it "looks for earth-like planets" in a tiny fraction of the galaxy!

Just something to ponder as you consider how you market these things...

Dr. Edward J. Weiler
Director, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Code 100 NASA Goddard Space
Flight Center Greenbelt, MD 20771

Email = edward.j.weiler@nasa.gov
Tel: = 301-286-5121

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on March 14, 2006 10:09 PM.

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