ESMD's Good News Vs SMD's Politics

NASA to Reveal New Scientific Findings About the Moon

"NASA will hold a media briefing at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 24, to discuss new science data from the moon collected during national and international space missions. NASA Television and the agency's Web site will provide live coverage of the briefing from the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium at NASA Headquarters, 300 E St. SW, in Washington. For more information about NASA TV downlinks and streaming video, visit:"

Keith's note: Curiously, while these missions (or instruments) are managed by SMD, no one from ESMD is on the panel of speakers. That's rather odd given the implications for supporting humans and human activities on the Moon blatantly inherent in this announcement - something Carlie Pieters saw fit to specifically mention in her paper.

Behind the scenes sources point to a slow motion tug of war between ESMD and SMD regarding the public presentation of these findings from Deep Impact (EPOXI), Cassini, and Chandrayaan-1. ESMD is very excited (with good reason) and views these findings as being enabling in nature for its interest in conducting human lunar surface operations - especially when it comes in situ resource utilization. SMD is not interested in that and instead (understandably) has an interest in the scientific aspects of this from the context of how the solar system is constructed.

What is lurking in the background, however, is a fear among the Mars crowd at NASA (led by Ed Weiler) that any discoveries of water or other things that would make the Moon out to be a more attractive place to visit (and stay) would also serve to detract from support for their focus on Mars. With Mars mission cost overruns already distorting SMD's planetary exploration budget, anything that shifts the focus away from Mars to the Moon is seen as a threat. The possibility that LCROSS may find water at the Moon's south pole has Weiler worried - while others are rejoicing at the prospect.

This is wonderful news and everyone in the space and exploration communities ought to be rejoicing. The Moon is even more useful than we previously thought - and it is only a few days away! Alas, anything that makes the Moon more interesting threatens Mars missions in the minds of the Mars crowd. This is unfortunate since they should see that anything that further enables visiting and utilizing the Moon enables Mars - and other destinations. Indeed, anyone who has built a strategy and rationale for going to Mars that is that fragile and susceptible enough to be threatened by news such as this has not built a good case to go to Mars in the first place.

Stay tuned - Machiavellian politics are at work.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on September 24, 2009 8:44 AM.

Bolden Speaks On NASA's Future Path - Or Did He? was the previous entry in this blog.

Moon Water News Stories is the next entry in this blog.

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