Astrobiology: March 2006 Archives

Editor's note: Monday morning, at the opening session of the Astrobiology Science Conference in Washington DC, NASA Watch reported that Andrew Dantzler, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA HQ told 700 astrobiologists that the proposed FY 2007 cuts in Astrobiology did not sit well with the research community noting that "it was was not a good shot [at a budget] - we could have done better". He then said that based on input he had been receiving that it was "clear that we should money back [into Astrobiology]" and that "we have decided to put money back - and we will be doing that as soon as we can." Carl Pilcher repeated this claim at the conference later that day.

Reliable sources now report that at a Science Mission Directorate monthly meeting at NASA HQ today it was noted that no additional funds will be given to Astrobiology and that someone is going to have to go tell the astrobiologists that the claim made by Dantzler and Pilcher is not true.

Funds for hunting extraterrestrial life restored by NASA, New Scientist

"Researchers said NASA was responding to protests from scientists and lawmakers and called for the pressure to continue. "It seems to me that instead of going away quietly with what we were given, we ought to be emboldened to ask for more," said Jill Tarter, [SETI Institute]."

Editor's note: At a "NASA Town Meeting" held on Monday night at this conference, Carl Pilcher said - several times - when asked why these budget cuts were made in the first place, that he did not know wny and that he was "pleading ignorance". When pushed by several questioners to elaborate, he said "that's all I can tell you". This was rather bizzare - and insulting - to many in attendance since Pilcher actually requested that this "NASA Town Meeting" be held in the first place. The reason the event was requested was so that Pilcher could address this specific issue. Yet he could not even explain how the decision to cut Astrobiology was made - or why it was made. Either Pilcher was unable to get a formal answer from his boss, Mary Cleave; he did not bother to ask; or he knows but is not allowed to say. Regardless of the reason, Pilcher's non-response fell flat on the hundreds in attendance.

Astrobiology Serves NASA and The National Interest - Statement Prepared by Principal Investigators of the NASA Astrobiology Institute

"Astrobiology is the interdisciplinary study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life on Earth and in the universe. It melds the understanding of life on Earth, the nature of our solar system and its potential to support life, and the search for habitable environments and life on planets around other stars. The President's budget calls for cuts to the NASA astrobiology program that would abdicate U.S. leadership and threaten our capabilities in this field."

Editor's note: This morning, at the opening session of the Astrobiology Science Conference, Andrew Dantzler, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA HQ noted that the proposed FY 2007 cuts in Astrobiology did not sit well with the research community noting that "it was was not a good shot [at a budget] - we could have done better". He then said that based on input he had been receiving that it was "clear that we should money back [into Astrobiology]" and that "we have decided to put money back - and we will be doing that as soon as we can." As to the specifics of the Astrobiology funds restoration, Carl Pilcher will be discussing that at an evening session tonight.

U.S. Astrobiologists Convene Biannual Conference Amid Devastating NASA Budget Threats, SETI Institute

"Although astrobiology is clearly one of the most exciting and productive programs in the space science portfolio, the proposed FY 2007 NASA budget inexplicably aims to disembowel astrobiology research funding with a 50% cut. An astrobiology community Town Hall meeting will be held on March 28, 2006 from 1-2 p.m., at the Ronald Reagan Building, Amphitheater. This meeting is designed to be a forum for community members to comment on the proposed cuts and the implications to the field."

Astrobiology in Peril - Update and Action Suggestions

"Dear Members of the Astrobiology Community: We are writing to you again to offer some thoughts and suggestions in advance of the upcoming AbSciCon meeting in Washington DC. Please know that everyone, including the authors here, believes that it is important to reverse the decision to severely cut NASA's R&A budget by 15%. It is also imperative that a focused effort be maintained to undo the inexplicable 50% cut to Astrobiology research."

NASA Astrobiology Program Status

"Even at the requested FY07 funding level we will be able to support a vigorous program of astrobiology research and some technology development. Obviously, however, it will be about half the size of the current program. Getting from here to there will be challenging and painful. I will seek guidance from the astrobiology community about how to approach this adjustment in the long term, but I have had to make some policy decisions regarding near term actions."

ROSES-06 Amendment 5: Adjustments in ROSES-2006 to align with the NASA budget

"Specifically the proposed FY07 budget includes a 15% reduction for R&A in most disciplines and a 50% reduction in astrobiology. These budgets are sufficiently different from the planning budgets that were used to develop ROSES-2006 that adjustments are required in several ROSES-2006 program elements to be consistent with NASA's FY06 operating budget and the President's requested NASA FY07 budget."

Funding Notification Sent out by NASA Headquarters to Astrobiology Investigators

"By now you will probably have received notification that there will not be an Exobiology solicitation in ROSES-06. Due to cuts in the FY06 Astrobiology Program budget, and the proposed cuts in the FY07 budget, the four funding lines in the Program (Exo, NAI, ASTID, and ASTEP) are under extreme pressure."

Astrobiology researcher note: "I would like to share this email I received from the Exobiology program manager at NASA HQ. This is the direct result of the recent cuts to Astrobiology. This was also my first proposal as a principal investigator. I had at least hoped that the decision to fund, or not fund, my proposal would be decided based on merit, as opposed to being a victim of misguided policy."

Why the USA and NASA need astrobiology, SpaceRef

"The first activity of my Astrobiology team was to hold a graduate student conference. Astrobiology has only been a coherent activity since 1998, and the students needed an opportunity to talk together about their science. At that meeting both the students and I noticed that there was a major distinction between the students who had been broadly educated in astrobiology during their graduate career and those who had not. One group could think across fields without difficulty. The other could not."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Astrobiology category from March 2006.

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