Editor's note: Philippe Crane has tried to set the record straight vis-a-vis NASA funding for Keck access. This email from Philippe Crane at NASA SMD has been widely circulated in the past few days. Have a look. Note underlined sections:
"Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009
From: Philippe Crane
How important is access to KECK thru NASA time to your work?? There seems to be a major shift in approach that may affect your work. In particular, there does not appear to be any funds for KECK after FY12.
For the moment, it appears that this issue will get some attention here at HQ, but it is not clear what the outcome will be. Therefore, it would be very helpful to have some broad idea of the impact of losing Keck to the Planetary community. Any inputs you and your colleagues may have will be helpful.
Many thanks, Phil"
Editor's note: Here is Crane's response from today's special edition of the Planetary Exploration Newsletter (it was not sent to NASA Watch by NASA SMD PAO - thanks Dwayne):
"Many of you may know about the January 26th posting on NASA Watch titled: "Weiler Seeks to Cut NASA Access to Keck Observatory." Just to make things unequivocally clear, there is absolutely no change in NASA's position to honor the 5-year cooperative agreement for KECK operations that was put in place last fiscal year. Also, Dr. Weiler has not been involved in any discussion relevant to KECK since he has returned to NASA Headquarters in the Spring of 2008.
The KECK Observatory provides important support for the Planetary Science Division's goals and objectives. The Planetary Science Division is committed to maintaining this support. Recent email and web traffic have not accurately reflected the actual situation. My email to a KECK user, informally soliciting information from observers to support the Planetary Science Division's position, led to this. I regret any misunderstanding that may have been engendered. Please be assured that we can move forward knowing that KECK will be around a long time to support our mission needs. If you are still have concerns, I urge you to talk directly to me or Jim Green, the Planetary Science Division Director.
Planetary Astronomy Discipline Scientist
Planetary Science Division
Editor's note: Crane was the one who said "it is not clear what the outcome will be". Small wonder the space science community was concerned. Either Crane was acting without Ed Weiler's consent/permission (not good) or he was (not good either). That said, given the standard operating procedure in cases such as this, much nastiness will issue forth from Ed Weiler's SMD.