Recently in Internet Policies Category

Sometimes it seems that everyone on Earth is wearing a NASA T-shirt, Washington Post

"Go to any college campus, Ulrich said, and there are "kids there with NASA shirts on. You see it on the subway. You see it on the street. It's just proliferating." It sure is. Last year, Ulrich said, the agency received 11,000 merchandising requests from companies that wanted to use the logo on some sort of object. NASA doesn't license the logo, it gives approval and requires that merchandisers follows its guidelines. For example, it can't be used on alcohol, food, cosmetics, tobacco, underwear or technology, and when it is used, it has to be the proper font, color, etc."

- Yet Another Example Of The Global Reach Of The NASA Brand, earlier post

"NASA has done a good job - an increasingly good one - at allowing the logo's use - and not discouraging its use when the its is used in a positive and inspiring context. This is a consumate, textbook example of soft power. One would hope that NASA can continue along this path and that legislation that currently hinders NASA's ability to project its message via advertising and other venues - can be lifted by Congress."

- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, earlier post

"This is a perfect example of so-called "soft power". This costs NASA virtually - literally - nothing. Having worked with folks in Nepal on things related to this, the mere visibility of the NASA logo and recognition by NASA is enticement enough to generate in-country resources and support. Done properly you can have a global awareness of what NASA is and does and spark interest in other nation's space efforts. And the cases where a country has no space activities, spur their development. One would hope that this becomes part of what NASA includes in its Artemis outreach activities - since the ultimate goal is to go there with other nations."

- OSTP Director Speaks About America's Potential Soft Power, earlier post
- NASA Builds A Global Soft Power Capability And Then Ignores It, earlier post
- Space Apps: NASA Soft Power With An Under Appreciated - Untapped Global Potential, earlier post
- Why Am I Doing This NASA Website Critique Stuff?, earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, earlier post
- NASA is Still A Potent (If Underutilized) Brand, earlier post
- Using NASA's Logo: Expensive T-Shirts Or Global Soft Power?, earlier post
- NASA's Pervasive Brand Recognition, earlier post
- One Major Road Block To Bridenstine's Advertising Ideas, earlier post

Media Accreditation Open for Minotaur I Rocket Launch June 15 from NASA Wallops

"Media must apply for accreditation by 4 p.m. Friday, May 28, by sending a request to Keith Koehler at ..."

Keith's note: Yesterday I stumbled across a media advisory for media accreditation from NASA Wallops for a launch via someone's Facebook page. It is posted by NASA here: Media Accreditation Open for Minotaur I Rocket Launch June 15 from NASA Wallops and is featured on the NASA Wallops Home page.

NASA Wallops never sent the media accreditation notice to the news media by email - the way that they are supposed to. I sent Wallops PAO an email asking why I was no longer on their media list. I did some checking on another missed media advisory and found out that the NASA listserver is broken right now. OK, that happens. But that is not what is going on here.

Modernizing Science Websites, Thomas Zurbuchen

"More so than ever, our Science Mission Directorate (SMD) websites are the front-door to our worldwide community of enthusiasts and learners. Upon an in-depth analysis of our web presence, I believe it is time for us to elevate the way we communicate and enhance the breadth of our audiences using a focused approach on great content, and best-in-class optimization techniques. As will all of our communication activities, we will do this as one team, and driven by the desire to enhance the impact and inspiration of our science throughout. This is a core-element of our NASA Science strategy, which focuses deliberately on inspiration and communication."

Keith's note: I just became aware of this blog posting by Thomas Zurbuchen. This is music to my ears. As I have noted below (and for many years) NASA's web presence is out of date, broken, and counter productive - in the extreme. This is not what you'd expect Earth's pre-eminent space agency to put forth as its public face. As some of you may recall Jim Bridenstine set the process in motion exactly years ago. For the most part NASA has dragged its feet on the issue of improving its web and social media presence. Large portions of NASA simply ignored Bridenstine's direction in favor of their stove piped efforts. Now SMD is going to bite the bullet and fix things once and for all. Let's see what SMD does. Since SMD is responsible for roughly half of what NASA does in one way or another it could set an example for the rest of the agency. Oh yes: Kathy Lueders has noticed.

- Dysfunctional Science Websites At NASA, earlier post
- NASA Has Had A Year To Reorganize Their Web Presence. Did They?, earlier post
- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice UPDATE: Three Times, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post

Keith's note: By now you must be bored with my daily critique of how NASA organizes and presents itself to the public, policy makers, news media, and the rest of the world - especially when it comes to education. (see Fixing Education And Outreach At NASA. Part 1: STEM Engagement Office) To virtually everyone, everywhere, online resources are how people learn what NASA does - and where they go to find out what it can do for them. As such you'd expect that the agency would spend the resources needed to put forth the best online face. Guess again. (see NASA's Web Presence is An Amazing Mess).

As you may know the Trump Administration tried to defund the NASA Education Office. But Congress thwarted that. But in a compromise to sooth some political issues they changed the name to the "NASA STEM Engagement Office". While the name is not exactly obvious, whatever you call NASA's main education organization should be the focal point for the agency's education efforts - STEM and otherwise.

That said, the NASA STEM Engagement Office only links to some of the agency's ongoing educational activities and many of the field centers, directorates, missions, and other programs with overt educational interests and content, do not bother to link back to the NASA STEM Engagement Office. And if they do link back they do so indirectly and rely on a web visitor to guess where the link is. And in the case of NASA JPL, well, they simply ignore NASA HQ. But that is another story.

Now there is talk of a massive infrastructure bill to be prosed by the White House which seeks to revitalize things all throughout the government and the economy. Maybe NASA can grab some of that funding and focus it on its education and outreach problems - and not on yet another shiny office building for SES and GS-15 employees.

Here's my latest flyby analysis of how badly NASA coordinates its education activities online. It is hard to see more than a superficial semblance of an agency-wide coherent approach to presenting and integrating education and outreach. But you already knew that, right?

Keith's note: When you think of NASA you think of science. That is because NASA wants you to think that. And since there is a lot of science at NASA, this is rather easy to do. Indeed, many times the people or organizations tasked with getting the science out via education and outreach at NASA are not very good at doing so. But the science is so compelling that it gets out despite attempts to trip it up. And when excellence in communication is coupled with the compelling science the world often stops what it is doing to take a look.

Let's pretend for a moment that we are not NASA employees, space fans, or people familiar with how NASA is organized. Let's just think like regular people who want to understand the science that NASA is always talking about. Maybe you are a student. Perhaps a parent. Or maybe just someone who is curious.

As a regular person you'd think that NASA would position its social and online media assets - the most extensive of any government agency on Earth - to best guide you to all the agency's science. Google "NASA Science" and you see a page of links that all refer to the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) - the top one being - the SMD home page. This is good. And it is also not so good. At NASA "Science" and "science" are not the same thing.

Keith's note: From my 24 July 1999 NASA PAO media accreditation request:

"NASA Watch is read regularly (during regular working hours) from all NASA centers, the White House (they even asked me to post an OMB job opening on NASA Watch), other agencies, Congress, the aerospace industry, reporters for the "legitimate" press. It is also read by people from countries and locations around the world - including Antarctica. Readership is growing, not fading. I can only surmise that this is because NASA Watch offers something called "news" - even if it is often presented alongside clearly denoted editorial opinion. NASA Watch is only the beginning of what will follow. Others will soon be online (and not in print) who are much more adept at this art than I. They too will be asking for accreditation."

Keith's note: Websites are a thing that people have been doing for a quarter of a century. Despite all of the fancy graphics and tricks there are some basic things a good website should do. NASA has lots of websites - more than any other government agency. The agency's Internet reach is truly global. But it gets this global reach in spite of itself. Its web presence is a jumbled mess with endless actors competing with one another to get their message out without any thought to collaboration or strategic intent.

If you go to a website for an organization or company you will see an "about" menu item. If you check the menu underneath you will see "About us"; "Who we are", "What we do", "Where we are", and "How to contact us". You might also see something like "audience" or "product categories". Under "About us" "who we are" explains where the website sponsor came from and who the "management", "Advisors", and other significant personnel are. "What we do" explains what they sell or offer as service. "Where we are" describes factory or sales or operations locations. "How to contact us" offers email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, online query forms or other means whereby you can make contact.

NASA tries to do some of this but mostly stumbles into itself, creates dead ends, rabbit holes, and is beset by the stovepipe mentality rampant within the agency wherein everyone does their own thing no matter how redundant it may be. In many cases, as I have noted before, NASA often has 2 or more websites covering the same mission or topic since it is easier to avoid food fights and turf battles by tolerating the status quo.

Jim Bridenstine ordered the agency to fix its website mess in 2019 (see Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence). The situation existed in 2017 (see Dueling NASA Websites Update) and 2011 (see NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online) and so on. The 2019 action to fix things went to CIO and PAO. They did nothing for a year and then tossed it to the NASA Chief Scientist's office. Supposedly there is something under development but since nothing has changed in the past two years since an action was assigned I am dubious of its imminent arrival or value.

So let's take another swipe at what is broken. If you go to and go to "About" in the top menu and click on leadership all you get is a short bio of Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. No one else is mentioned. You have to go to Organization to get that information. Oddly, all of the people listed are indeed the agency's leadership but they are not listed on the leadership page. All of the field centers are listed at the bottom of the leadership page with a one sentence listing of their specialties. But if you go to the org chart from August 2020 many of the locations are not even mentioned - Wallops, White Sands, Michoud, IV&V, Safety etc. Shared services and JPL are shown in different places).

If you go to locations there is also a list of the NASA field centers but no mention is made of what they do (unlike the leadership page which at least gives a few key words for what each center does). Moreover if you visit each of NASA's locations (field centers) they only talk about themselves and rarely (if ever) talk about other NASA field centers. Indeed, they often take NASA HQ press releases and modify them to have a local feel with local contacts. If you land on one of these field center websites you'd be almost certain to not know that there are any other field centers operated by NASA. One would also think that an explanation of what each field center does and what areas it serves would be prudent. But then again, if you read the content on each of the sites, you'd be forgiven for thinking that each field center does everything that NASA as a whole does. As such, a chart showing what they do would be pointless since every field center would fight to have every box checked for every topic - even if they only do a tiny piece of that work.

One extreme example is JPL. If you go to the NASA JPL website and click on the NASA logo you go to ... the site you are already reading. The only place you can find a link to NASA on NASA JPL main page is at the absolute bottom of the page on the left hand side in small type. Talk about burying visibility of NASA outside of JPL.

But back to If you look at the options under "NASA Audiences" you have 3 to choose from: Media, Educators, Students. There is nothing for "Scientists/Engineers, "Business Interests", or "Policy Makers". There are topical links but they lead you away from most of what the agency has online. Try "Solar System And Beyond". There is no link to the NASA Science Mission Directorate where all of this stuff is done. The "The Search for Life and Exoplanets" page makes mention of the Astrobiology program or the multibillion dollar Mars Perseverance mission and its "mobile astrobiologist". If you go to the Earth page there is zero mention of the major effort by the White House to address climate change. And despite having the word "aeronautics" in its name - there is no obvious link to "aeronautics" at

Given that the Biden Administration is all about SCIENCE - with the tagline #ScienceIsBack in frequent use, you'd think that there would be more of a focus on helping visitors find all of the science goodness at NASA - both for the general public and for actual scientists and policy makers. Good luck with that. If you use the Search box on the upper right hand side you get results that are a mix of specific and general, and that are old and new. No strategic thought of presenting topics of relevance to current policy discussions is presented in a strategic, prominent fashion.

But NASA does have some amazing only research and search capabilities. You can only find them if you know in advance to look for them. is of no help. and its subsidiary pages make no up front mention of these NASA funded search resources. One example is PubSpace - a NASA partnership with the PubMed Central (PMC) repository, hosted by The National Institutes of Health, to provide public access to peer-reviewed papers resulting from NASA-funded research. One page buried deep inside the website sends you here where only NASA folks seem to be welcome. The public? No mention. But if you know to go to the actual PubSpace site hosted by NIH - well, everyone is welcome.

Then there is the treasure trove of 70-plus years of NASA and NACA information at NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) which "provides access to NASA metadata records, full-text online documents, images, and videos. The types of information included are conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos - scientific and technical information created or funded by NASA." You can't find it anywhere prominent via

NASA JSC posted this the other day: International Space Station Archives Fuel New Scientific Discoveries: "That legacy is evident in a publication by Cell Press, a collection of scientific journals that recently compiled 29 papers on the biology of spaceflight or the study of how space affects the human body. A number of the papers relied on the NASA Life Sciences Data Archive (LSDA) and NASA's Genelab, two repositories that contain decades of biological samples and data from the International Space Station." Cool stuff, eh? Worth telling the world about, don't you think? Go to the Humans In Space page. No mention of either database. Go to the International Space Station link. No mention of either database. Go to Space Station Research and Technology. No mention of either database. Indeed go to Let's Explore Space Station Science with a searchable database. No mention of either database.

Another overlooked resource is extremely comprehensive NASA Spaceline which is "compiled weekly, contain citations to articles from peer-reviewed journals and other recent publications of interest in the space life sciences." It is buried on the NASA Taskbook website which no one in the real world ever hears about. The ISS Program Office and CASIS make no mention of this listing of their own research results. Indeed, the only complete archive is on our SpaceRef website back to 1999. NASA's support for this service has wavered - but we did a diving catch to make sure it was not lost. So ... I could go on - but I have been doing that for decades. Have a look here.

When it comes to stunning imagery and stories of the moment, NASA constantly manages to thrill, awe, and stun the world with its audacious accomplishments. Yet the same agency manages to hide much of its treasures - thus limiting the full impact of its discoveries and limiting its ability to have an impact beyond its comparatively small governmental sandbox. Maybe the Biden folks will fix this once and for all.

Keith's note: A year and a half ago Jim Bridenstine directed NASA to fix its online services. he told the agency "I am calling for a full modernization of NASA's digital presence to best reflect the priorities and activities of the Agency in this new era of science, discovery, and exploration. To accomplish that we will: ..." . Have they done what he asked them to do? No. In fact, some things have just gotten worse.

Here's one example. Go to NASA Science Mission Directorate homepage and click on "news" and then "press releases". You'd expect to see a current listing, right? Guess again. The last one posted is dated 30 July 2020. No mention of NASA's Chandra Opens Treasure Trove of Cosmic Delights or Primary Mirror for NASA's Roman Space Telescope Completed or The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why issued in the past 24 hours. If you go to More science news they are not mentioned either.

But if you go to these things are available. Curiously when you go to there is no way to find the SMD homepage. If you click on Solar System and Beyond you see SMD's recent stories but no link to the SMD homepage. If you look at the SMD homepage you will notice that there is no link to - unless you scroll all the way down to a little link at the bottom of the page.

If you use the search engine and look for "astrobiology" the official NASA Astrobiology website never shows up in the search results (I stopped looking after 3 pages of results).

In summary: NASA SMD won't easily send you to and won't send you to SMD. None of these sites has a consistent and current link to the things that SMD releases - and the search engine for all of NASA can't even find the main home page of the program (Astrobiology) that drives all the science on the fancy new $2 billion rover headed to Mars.

- NASA Has Had A Year To Reorganize Their Web Presence. Did They?, earlier post
- SMD Sends A $2 billion Astrobiology Mission to Mars and Then Forgets About Astrobiology, earlier post
- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice UPDATE: Three Times, earlier post
- NASA's Confusing ICESAT-2 Websites, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post

OIG: NASA's Policy and Practices Regarding the Use of Non-Agency Information Technology Devices

"NASA is not adequately securing its networks from unauthorized access by IT devices. Although OCIO has deployed technologies to monitor unauthorized IT device connections, it has not fully implemented controls to remove or block these devices from accessing NASA's networks and systems. The initial December 2019 target date for NASA to complete installation of these controls has been delayed due to technological challenges and changes in OCIO mission priorities and requirements. Until the enforcement controls are fully implemented, NASA remains vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks."

Keith's note: And how many decades has NASA CIO had to deal with - and fix - this problem? And when they can't do their job its always due to someone or something else.

NASA Internal Memo: Website Modernization and Enhanced Security Protocols 15 May 2019 (PDF)

"Currently there are an estimated 3,000 public-facing NASA Web sites, yet the top 10 sites receive 80 percent of all Web traffic. Additionally, some NASA partners operate Web sites on our behalf outside of the Agency, creating redundancy and accumulating unnecessary costs. Not only does this duplication of information cause confusion, each Wen site provides potential access for a cyber-attack on NASA's assets. The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites. We need to take steps to protect our resources in a hostile cyber landscap, examine our digital footprint, reduce costs, and maximize the effectiveness of communications efforts. In addition to security risk, multiple sites dilute our effectiveness in communicating key messages about our missions."

Keith's update: OK. In 2 weeks it will have been a year since the NASA Administrator told NASA to get its whole Internet act together. Has anyone actually done anything called for in his memo? The CIO shows no evidence of having done so (no surprise). She is leaving NASA this week - so there won't be much incentive to pick up this task there. As for PAO they seem to be perfectly content to list multiple NASA maintained websites for the same mission in their press releases. It is not even clear who is responsible for implementing this directive. I have heard that the task was tossed into the Chief Scientist's lap - that makes no sense. SMD issued a memo about this in September 2019 yet little seems to have been done since then.

In last year's memo Jim Bridenstine said "The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites." Here we are a year later with an even more extensive shutdown - with everyone, everywhere - relying upon the Internet - for everything. The whole #NASAatHome thing is great but it lacks an overall strategy. Its like HBO and Showtime making everything free for a month so you can binge watch. NASA simply takes everything it has and throws it out at everyone - everywhere. They have so many websites and Twitter accounts that there is little, if any, strategic coordination between these various efforts. They are counting on sheer volume. Soon the content is going to get stale. Then what? It's like a monstrous swarm of bees - NASA lets them loose and eventually they will sting something, somewhere.

One would hope that this second dose of living and communicating virtually will finally get the message through to NASA. Your cool stuff often gets out to people in spite of your efforts to communicate - and not always because of these efforts.

It takes more than a Twitter hashtag and a few buzz words to coordinate things, NASA. Sure, you'll get a sugar rush when the SpaceX and Mars 2020 launches happen - but then its back to the same old, same old. We're all in this remote collaboration thing for the long haul. Its time to start thinking that way.

- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice UPDATE: Three Times, earlier post
- NASA's Confusing ICESAT-2 Websites, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post


NASA Bans Use Of Zoom

NASA Internal Memo: NASA's Authorized Internal and External Collaboration Tools, NASA CIO

"The NASA CIO has worked for the past several years to establish a consistent and modern set of tools to support both internal and external collaboration. While there is still work to do to support some of the more complex use-cases, such as sharing sensitive data with foreign partners, many others are met through Agency approved collaboration tools. A site has been established, with current approved collaboration resources."

"Zoom is not licensed nor authorized for use by NASA employees and contractors, and is not allowed on NASA IT devices. This includes all Government Furnished Equipment (GFE) or contractor-provided equipment, or any device that connects to the NASA network or VPN. This includes desktops, laptops and mobile devices (smartphones and tablets)."

- Beware Of Using Zoom, earlier post
- Cyber Threats At NASA Significantly Increasing, earlier post

Foreign Spies Are Targeting Americans on Zoom and Other Video Chat Platforms, U.S. Intel Officials Say, Time

"The U.S. intelligence officials stress there is no evidence that Zoom is cooperating with China or has been compromised by it, only that Zoom's security measures leave gaps, some of which may make the application less secure than others. All three intelligence officials, who requested anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss ongoing operations with the media, said spies are using multiple applications to search government, corporate, and academic conversations for financial, personal, product development, research, and intellectual property information and leads. Federal experts have warned both government and private officials not to use video conference applications to discuss or exchange sensitive information. In a memo on Thursday, the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms told Senators not to use Zoom, according to one person who received the memo."

Keith's 7 October update: Today NASA JPL issued a press release "NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars" It includes the text: "For more about NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission, visit:"

JPL has the release posted here with the same text and imagery as is used by NASA HQ's version here. But if you go to and dig a little bit to "news and events" you find a link to the same story here which uses the exact same text as the other two versions but is formatted differently than the JPL PAO and NASA HQ versions and uses different graphics. So this time NASA and JPL posted the same thing not twice, but three different ways - in three different places.

Oh yes: the main point of this release is more evidence of habitable periods and locations on Mars i.e. : "We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars," said lead author William Rapin of Caltech. "Understanding when and how the planet's climate started evolving is a piece of another puzzle: When and how long was Mars capable of supporting microbial life at the surface?". And of course NASA makes zero mention of (or link to) its Astrobiology program which is chartered to do the whole search for life in the universe thing.

Keith's 3 October note: NASA issued this press release today: NASA's Push to Save the Mars InSight Lander's Heat Probe. If you go to the end of this press release you will see links to two InSight websites

"More about InSight:"

If you go to you go to the JPL Mars InSight website. If you go to the news link you will see a story "NASA's Push to Save the Mars InSight Lander's Heat Probe"

If you go to it redirects you to which is a NASA HQ website. If you go to "NASA's Push to Save the Mars InSight Lander's Heat Probe" you get the exact same story and graphics as you get on the JPL page.

The text is exactly the same on both pages - with links to both InSIght websites at the end. In essence NASA sends you to one page and when you get to the bottom it sends you back on the same dual path to another page that sends you to the same dual path - and so on in an infinite DO loop. In addition, NASA uses one link to a HQ page that then redirects you to another - so why not use the link to which you are redirected to in the release instead?

The real question is: why is NASA constantly doing things like this twice? Someone wrote the original press release, collected the graphics and then formatted it for one website while someone else in another part of NASA took the same text and reformatted it again for another website with the same graphics - but formatted differently. That means NASA is knowingly doing things twice - and paying people to do things twice. Why not just have one website? Why not just have one place where press releases like this are posted? But wait - if you go to the NASA HQ press release page this press release is not even listed. I know NASA is working on fixing this duplication per direction from the Administrator, but this silliness could be fixed now with a simple memo from NASA HQ. Just sayin'

- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA GSFC website you will see this release "Laser Precision: NASA Flights, Satellite Align Over Sea Ice". In the release you will see this at the bottom: "For more information, visit: or". There's no HMTL for the links on this webpage thus making it more difficult for people to follow the non-existent links.

If you go to you get the NASA ICESAT -2 website which features a link to this release. If you go to you see the GSFC ICESAT-2 website but this press release is not even mentioned. [7 Oct Update: they added a link to the release today]. If you go to the NASA main page or the NASA Earth Science topic page there is no mention of this release. If you go to the NASA Science Mission directorate page there is no mention of this release either.

If you go to the Science Mission Directorate Press Releases page there is no mention either. In fact the last press release - of any kind - that is mentioned is from 30 July 2019 - more than 2 months ago.

Yet this press release is posted on AAAS' Eurekalert and is shown as being from "NASA GSFC" - not from "NASA". If this research is being done by NASA - and is important enough to warrant paid posting on a press release service then is it not also worth posting on NASA and NASA SMD websites? Is it not also worth posting on the GSFC ICESAT-2 website along with other ICESAT-2 news? And why does NASA Need two ICESAT-2 websites - both of which cater to a wide range of public interest audiences?

- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice, earlier post
- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post

Cruz's test: how to keep Houston central to space flight [Editorial]

"But the flesh-and-blood part of the techno-wizardry of the Space program has always run first through Houston. Not Huntsville, Cape Canaveral nor any of many NASA facilities around the country. Isn't the Texas congressional delegation disproportionately influential on this issue? It sure ought to be. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas chairs the Senate subcommittee on space. Rep. Brian Babin of Woodville is the ranking Republican on the House space subcommittee. Yet, a key part of one of the most ambitious plans in NASA history quietly walks out of Houston and ends up nearly 800 miles away. That dog don't hunt. Even before the announcement was made officially, Cruz, Babin and Texas' senior Sen. John Cornyn fired off a letter Aug. 15 demanding the pending decision be reconsidered."

NASA Invites Media to Economic Impact News Conference with Texas Comptroller's Office

"NASA will host officials of the Texas Comptroller's Office and news media on Thursday, Sept. 12 as the Lone Star state announces a special economic impact report for the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The report, "The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): A Texas Institution with a Large Economic Impact," highlights employment numbers, average wages, gross domestic product, and grants that NASA introduces to the state. The report also details the center and its workforce's influences on education, tourism and future growth, particularly in the Gulf Coast region. NASA's impact on Texas, and Johnson's position as the world leader in human spaceflight, remain strong as the agency moves toward human exploration of deep space with the Artemis program and a landing on the Moon by 2024, initiatives that include many key roles at Johnson. The news conference will begin at 11:15 a.m. CDT Sept. 12. Media wishing to participate in person must request credentials from the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11. Dial-in participation will not be available."

Keith's note: This is silly. After the decision to put the Human Lander responsibility in Huntsville, NASA wants everyone to know how much of an impact NASA spending has in Texas. But unless you can make it to a room at JSC next Thursday you won't be able to hear what is said. Johnson PAO apparently does not know how - or does not care to provide a simple dial-in for media - or an audio or video feed for people elsewhere to listen/watch. One would think that NASA would understand that this sort of news, while pertaining to Texas, has applicability to the region and can also raise awareness in other states with regard to NASA's economic footprint. Given the sheer number of vendors for Artemis and other NASA programs, the entire country benefits.

Oh yes the press release says "View the upcoming economic impact report and get more information on the Texas Comptroller's office at:". There is no obvious mention of the report on that website. But if you search for "NASA" you get a link to this page where you see lots of pretty NASA pictures - but no link to the report. There is no mention of this event at the JSC home page. NASA HQ makes no mention of this press release on their press release page or the Artemis page. Nor is there any mention on the home page or its calendar of events.

Look at this Texas portion (larger image) of the list of companies that are suppliers to SLS/Orion/Artemis: "2019 Deep Space Exploration Systems Supplier Locations". These 182 companies are located all over Texas. I'll be willing to bet that nearly all of these companies have no idea that there is a NASA website that lists all of the small business that work on this project. The Texas Comptroller seems not to know about it. JSC does not mention it either. Why go through the time and expense of collecting this information if no one is told that it exists?

If you make it hard for people to find - or hear - your good news they may not find it. NASA has yet to figure out how to tell people about its good news. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine has managed to learn how to livestream events from his cellphone. Baffling.

The Science of Social Media Strategy, Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA

"With this rapidly evolving platform, informed strategy is key. During a recent review, we took a look at all of the social media accounts associated with NASA's Science Mission Directorate. We found that there are around 300 accounts across 8 platforms (Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube). Although well-intended in all cases, our initial "more is better" strategy did not always work in all cases as we hoped. For example, a significant number of these accounts were inactive for time-periods over years, and others were highly duplicative and confusing at times, with respect to focus and content, resulting in the fact that many great posts were not seen by large audiences. Because of this and to improve the reach and impact of our social media efforts, we are working on a strategic social media plan that will consolidate these existing profiles across the 8 platforms. This consolidation does not mean that information will no longer be shared. In fact, the goal is to share the same information under more thematic and broader account handles that have larger audiences. Based on our deeper understanding of social media gained during the past years, we believe that this more focused and aligned effort will result in higher followership for these accounts and broader engagement, especially around missions or research efforts that might not normally get public attention."

NASA Internal Memo: Website Modernization and Enhanced Security Protocols (PDF), earlier post

"Currently there are an estimated 3,000 public-facing NASA Web sites, yet the top 10 sites receive 80 percent of all Web traffic. Additionally, some NASA partners operate Web sites on our behalf outside of the Agency, creating redundancy and accumulating unnecessary costs. Not only does this duplication of information cause confusion, each Wen site provides potential access for a cyber-attack on NASA's assets. The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites. We need to take steps to protect our resources in a hostile cyber landscap, examine our digital footprint, reduce costs, and maximize the effectiveness of communications efforts. In addition to security risk, multiple sites dilute our effectiveness in communicating key messages about our missions."

NASA Can't Figure Out What Astrobiology Is - Or Who Does It, earlier post

"Oh yes the NASA Mars 2020 website has two different addresses: and Then there is another Mars 2020 webpage at NASA HQ which does not point to either of these web links but points to yet another Mars 2020 page at NASA HQ instead."

- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Semi-Stealth Astrobiology Mission, earlier post
- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post
- NASA's Astrobiology Programs Ignore One Another, earlier post

Keith's 4:38 pm update: As it happens this commuter bus tweet was not even made by Renee Wynn but rather by someone else who has access to the @NASACIO Twitter account (even though the face on the Twitter page is Renee Wynn's). This error went unnoticed for more than 5 hours hours until NASAWatch pointed it out. And it took another 5 hours before an indirect message was sent to me explaining what had happened.

To be certain this was an innocuous tweet made by a frustrated DC commuter. But this Twitter account belongs to the NASA CIO - the Chief Information Officer. They are in charge of oversight for all NASA communications and IT. This is troubling to say the least given that use of this account is apparently not monitored by anyone at the NASA CIO organization; that this account has been used by CIO staff (who should know something about the whole IT thing) for things that are blatantly personal and utterly inappropriate; and that the organization who is responsible for proper use of IT at NASA cannot even admit their own mistakes - yet they will hound others at NASA who make them. You can hardly blame people at NASA for ignoring the CIO organization when they do things like this.

Keith's 1:51 pm update: The tweet has been deleted. It used to say "Talk about burying the lead--I had to click through three pages on the PRTC / OmniRide website to even know there was a bus driver strike and what to do about it. Nothing on their Facebook page. Not cool people... -- NASA OCIO (@NASAcio) August 5, 2019" Luckily I employed another advanced Internet concept that the CIO is seemingly unaware of: a screen grab. FWIW I actually first noticed this @NASACIO tweet at 7:27 am. It was only after it was mentioned on NASAWatch hours later that it was pulled down. So much for the notion that the NASA CIO pays a lot of attention to social media.

Keith's original 12:22 pm note: Kinda funny that NASA CIO Renee Wynn uses her official Twitter account to complain about a bus schedule. Yet when it comes to complying with government guidance on cybersecurity Wynn's office refuses to reply to all media inquiries and routinely gets failing scores on her office's progress from Congres. Now, Wynn's office is co-charted by the NASA Administrator to fix the inefficiencies and redundancies within NASA's internet presence - something the the current CIO has utterly ignored through her time at NASA. Lets hope that she starts to pay the same amount of time looking at NASA websites as she pays to the design of her commuter bus' website. Also, FWIW, if you used #omniride and #PTRC hashtags in your tweet they might actually see your complaint a little more easily. Its one of these Internet tricks you are apparently unaware of.

Oh yes the phrase is "burying the lede" not "lead". Just sayin'.

- NASA Continues To Flunk Basic IT and Cybersecurity Rankings, earlier post
- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- NASA Needs A New Chief Information Officer, earlier post
- NASA CIO Misses Little Things That Could Cause Big Problems, earlier post
- NASA OIG Finds Pervasive Problems With JPL Cybersecurity, earlier post

Raspberry Pi used to steal data from Nasa lab, BBC

"An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about 500MB of data. It said two of the files that were taken dealt with the international transfer of restricted military and space technology. The attacker who used the device to hack the network went undetected for about 10 months. The malicious hacker won access to the Jet Propulsion Lab internal network via the Raspberry Pi by hijacking its user account. Although the Pi had been attached to the network by the employee, lax controls over logging meant Nasa administrators did not know it was present, said the report. This oversight left the vulnerable device unmonitored on the network, allowing the attacker to take control of it and use it to steal data."

NASA OIG Finds Pervasive Problems With JPL Cybersecurity, earlier post

"Multiple IT security control weaknesses reduce JPL's ability to prevent, detect, and mitigate attacks targeting its systems and networks, thereby exposing NASA systems and data to exploitation by cyber criminals."

Report: "JPL did not have complete and accurate information about the types, location, and value of NASA system components and assets connected to its network. ... The April 2018 cyberattack exploited this particular weakness when the hacker accessed the JPL network by targeting a Raspberry Pi computer that was not authorized to be attached to the JPL network.32 The device should not have been permitted on the JPL network without the JPL OCIO's review and approval."

NASA Needs A New Chief Information Officer, earlier post

"NASA's CIO has been asleep at the wheel for years. Its time for a reboot."

NASA Internal Memo: Website Modernization and Enhanced Security Protocols (PDF)

"Currently there are an estimated 3,000 public-facing NASA Web sites, yet the top 10 sites receive 80 percent of all Web traffic. Additionally, some NASA partners operate Web sites on our behalf outside of the Agency, creating redundancy and accumulating unnecessary costs. Not only does this duplication of information cause confusion, each Wen site provides potential access for a cyber-attack on NASA's assets. The shutdown earlier this year gave us a clear view of the cyber vulnerabilities inherent in operating thousands of Web sites. We need to take steps to protect our resources in a hostile cyber landscap, examine our digital footprint, reduce costs, and maximize the effectiveness of communications efforts. In addition to security risk, multiple sites dilute our effectiveness in communicating key messages about our missions."

Keith's note: One thing NASA needs to do as part of this effort to fix its public and internal cyber infrastructure is to totally overhaul the Chief Information Officer's organization. They dabble in things that are often peripheral to their core charter while getting bad ratings and reviews year after year on the things that they are supposed to be worrying about. NASA has never had a CIO who actually does what the job entails. Just sayin'

Some stories about NASA's creaky, mismanaged, and needlessly redundant cyber infrastructure - from just the past year:

- Dueling NASA Websites Update, earlier post
- NASA Continues To Flunk Basic IT and Cybersecurity Rankings, earlier post
- NASA's Administrator Uses Technology Better Than The Space Industry Does, earlier post
- NASA CIO Can't Even Find Their Own Directives Online, earlier post
- NASA MSFC Employee Tries To Make Serkan Golge's Past Disappear, earlier post
- NASA's Chief Information Officer Is Not Doing Their Job (Update), earlier post
- NASA Still Has Big Unresolved Cybersecurity Issues, earlier post

Keith's note: Boeing is continuing its creepy and deceptive social media campaign - one that lures you with an innocent social media ad on Facebook to a website where they grab a lot of information about you for uses that they will not describe. Boeing uses social media ads that do not mention Boeing. In this case, they ask you to sign a petition to support the ISS. Sounds innocent enough. You click on the link and this is what it is actually sending you to:

You have now been caught on a Facebook ad. You arrive at the petition page at which claims that "Watch U.S. Fly is a community of Americans that believes that America should lead the world in technological advancements. We realize that in order to maintain our edge, American aerospace must have the support of policymakers so they can continue to chart the future." In the lower corner in a small, faint font, it says "Copyright © 2019 Boeing"

The disclaimer says "Site intended for use by U.S. residents 14 years of age or older. Boeing may use the information you provide to send you future communications about Boeing and issues that may be of interest to you. For further information, please review Boeing's Privacy Policy." But they do not tell you this when they entice you to visit from Facebook. Too late. If you sign in to their page using Facebook then they really have you. Their cookies are in your browser and all of your Facebook, Internet, and geolocation information is now theirs to use and/or sell as they see fit - unless you take convoluted steps to try (I repeat try) and extricate yourself from their info cache on you. Here's what they tell you that they can do with the information they tricked you into giving them. According to Boeing's Privacy Policy page.

"Boeing Services often contain cookies or similar technologies from third-party providers that help us compile statistics about the effectiveness of our promotional campaigns, perform analytics, enable social networking features, and other operations. These technologies enable the third-party providers to set or read their own cookies or other identifiers on your device, through which they can collect information about your online activities across the Services and other, unaffiliated devices, applications, websites, or services... Boeing also enables cookies and third-party tracking mechanisms to collect your information for use in interest-based advertising. For example, third parties use the fact that you visited our Services to target online ads for Boeing services to you on non-Boeing websites. In addition, our third-party advertising networks use information about your use of our Services to help target non-Boeing advertisements based on your online behavior in general... Data collected from a particular browser, app, or device can be used with a linked computer or device. For example, we or our third-party service providers display ads to you on your laptop based on the fact that you visited Boeing Services on your smartphone."

Remember, if you visit, its too late unless you have disabled cookies, use a VPN, etc. Most people do not. But if you sign the petition, they got you. Boeing never tells you who they will share and/or sell your data to. Nor do they tell you what these third parties will do with the tracking that they can now do based on your visit to the site. Political campaigns can buy this information, Boeing can now make pro-Boeing, anti-someone else ads appear on your browser - as you probably know by now. We've taken notice of this creep behavior before (see links below). Boeing is doing a lot of lobbying and targeted media buys these days.

This is how big aerospace is using the same shady tactics that skewed the 2016 election for their own, undisclosed purposes. Congratulations, if you visited this stealth Boeing site you have now become part of this ongoing sneaky Boeing effort.

- Boeing's Misleading Anti-SpaceX Pro-SLS Facebook Ad Campaign, previous post
- Join Boeing's SLS Fan Club So They Can Track Your Activity, previous post
- Boeing's Creepy Petition Wants To Track Your Online Activity, previous post

Keith's note: NASA has some pretty amazing websites. Some of the best ones are made by JPL. They are immensely popular. A lot of work goes into making sure that they work, that they are accurate, and, if needed, that caveats are posted explaining why the information depicted may be modified, delayed, or missing. In other words, there's a lot of transparency and honesty that goes with thee websites - as there should be. Sometimes the websites have flaws that only emerge over time. Usually NASa is good about fixing these bugs. But sometimes a few NASA employees decide to get snarky and try to blame inaccuracies on the inability of news media or the public to understad a lot of geeky details that they should not be expected to know. That's not how to behave when it comes to the presentation and maintenance of a "public facing" NASA website.

The other day someone at was sharp enough to notice that there seemed to be a signal coming from a Mars Exploration Rover- specifically via a DSN dish in Madrid, Spain. Their source: the NASA DSN Now website. Since Spirit is dead, Opportunity is the only MER rover left who could do this, right? Indeed on the right hand side of the screen you could see that Opportunity was sending information back to Earth. So, assuming that the NASA website was correct he tweeted his observation. Someone replied to note that the NASA Eyes website showed that there were up and down links from Opportunity. Even the unofficial NASA DSN Twitter account @DSN_Status (which gets its data directly from the NASA Eyes website) said that DSN was talking to - and getting data from - Opportunity.

Lots of Twitter traffic ensued. I checked with several NASA sources who said that they were checking to confirm and tweeted that this might be a "false positive". A short while later JPL tweeted "Today showed what looked like a signal from @MarsRovers Opportunity. As much as we'd like to say this was an #OppyPhoneHome moment, further investigation shows these signals were not an Opportunity transmission." And that should have been the end of the story.

But it wasn't. NASA JPL employee Doug Ellison, one of the designers of the NASA DSN website, started to complain on his Twitter account @Doug_Ellison about things he does as part of his day job at NASA JPL. He was whining about how people misunderstood what the website was saying. In essence, it was the public and news media's fault for getting things wrong. Among his tweets he chided people by saying "Willing a spacecraft to phone home is awesome. Misinterpreting data (in a way that's been done before) that has people thinking it HAS phoned home isn't." In other words its our fault for believing NASA.

I have gotten tweets and emails from people lecturing me how this JPL DSN website works with lots of geeky details. I'm sure everyone is correct. Funny thing: none of what they are saying to me appears on the NASA DSN website. All visitors to this website see is a page showing little graphical dishes sending or receiving animated signas rom spacecraft. NASA tels people to go this website to see what is going on across the solar system. Since NASA is showing this happening as if it was happening in real time, visitors naturally assume that what NASA is showing is real since people trust NASA websites. If this is not a true representation of what DSN is doing then why did NASA go to such lengths to make it look real and not tell people that it is not real.

Right now if you go to this website there is no obvious note to people that the data may not be accurate. There is a little "last updated" notation with a time. And there's a little "i" link. If you click on it you get this: "Below is the current state of the Deep Space network as established from available data updated every 5 seconds. Click a dish to learn more about the live connection between the spacecraft and the ground. The legend (below) shows the various connections between spacecraft and the ground. A carrier is a pure radio 'tone' used to establish communications or for navigation. Data is commands, scientific measurements or housekeeping engineering information. Uplink is commands being sent 'up' to a spacecraft. Downlink is data received from a spacecraft."

In other words NASA is saying that this is what is actually going on with their DSN. Since NASA websites tend to have a stellar reputation when they show stuff like this, one would naturally assume that if NASA is showing something like this then it is accurate.

Based on the obvious flaws in this website's depiction of ghost signals from a Mars rover, NASA JPL needs to put a caveat on their website saying that information on the website may not be accurate. Or take the site offline. This is an official NASA website and people tend to believe what NASA posts online. Faulting people for doing like some JPL people and fans have been doing, is silly. If NASA JPL PAO can take the time to add "artist's impression", "Illustration", or "false color" to graphics they post then they can put a notice on this website stating that "the graphics depicted are conceptual and may not represent actual spacecraft communications".

Dialing back the error, what happend? A lot of people were overjoyed to see a NASA website saying that Opportunity had phoned home. They trusted NASA on this. But in the end it was a mistake. Oh well. NASA JPL quickly admitted this. Hopefully JPL will understand that they have engendered an amazing amount of trust among visitors to many of the agency's websites and will adjust this otherwise cool website to inform visitors that glitches happen. They also need to send at least one of their employees to training class for "NASA Public Outreach 101".

NASAWatch Is 21

How scientists are scrambling to safeguard vital environmental data, PBS Newshour

"MILES O'BRIEN: While scientists wait to see what shoes might drop, a rumor mill echoes across the Twitterverse ... Are scientists in a panic? Is that what it is? What's going on?

KEITH COWING, NASA Watch: They know where the panic button is, and they look at it once or twice a day.

MILES O'BRIEN: Keith Cowing is a former NASA biologist who founded the watchdog Web site NASA Watch 20 years ago. He's the proto-rogue, and now he says everybody seems to be joining in."

Keith's note: NASAWatch turns 21 on 1 Apr 2017. It started as "NASA RIFWatch" on 1 Apr 1996 and was first hosted on a Mac Classic II on an ISDN line in my little condo in Reston, Virginia (see 20 Years Ago Today: The Seeds of NASAWatch). Here a few things from those early days that are still online:

- Rogue Webmasters, Government Executive, 1 Oct 1996
- NASA's Most Important Asset, Gerry Griffin, 31 December 1996
- Dan Goldin Comments to the Space Science Advisory Committee (SSAC) Meeting, 6/17/96
- Changes in Thinking At NASA November 29, 1996, PBS News Hour

Plus this piece from last year

- NASA Watch Celebrates 20 Years of Critiquing the Space Agency's Every. Single. Move., Inverse (2016)

Just to show you how things have changed, this photo should shock a few of you ... (well worth a click) - and no, it is not an April Fool's joke. Today, some up and coming bloggers and digeratti love to throw snark at me just like I threw it at Dan Goldin back in the day. Life is funny like that.

Those of you who have followed my 'other' exploits will know that I have had a certain interest in doing online updates from distant and extreme locations (Devon Island, Everest Base Camp, etc.). This website (still online), "The McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-Term Research Project - Life in Extreme Environments; An Antarctic Field Journal", done with my friend Dale Andersen, was one of the very earliest websites actually updated from Antarctica.

People have been asking me to look back on things and pick the events that are most memorable. After all I have spent 1/3 of my life running this thing. I have been given many chances to do things because of my peculiar notoriety. This shaky video, done live with my friend Miles O'Brien - about our mutual friend Scott Parazynski - while this picture was being taken - is the one singular moment where it all came together.

Thanks to all of you for stopping by for the past 21 years.

Interior Department reactivates Twitter accounts after shutdown following inauguration, Washington Post

"The Interior Department reactivated its official Twitter accounts early Saturday after an abrupt shutdown following two shares of tweets that were unsympathetic to President Trump during his inauguration. Thomas Crosson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, the Interior agency whose employee retweeted the offending tweets, said the action was "inconsistent with the agency's approach to engaging the public through social media." "The Department of Interior's communications team determined that it was important to stand down Twitter activity across the Department temporarily, except in the case of public safety," Crosson said in an email. "Now that social media guidance has been clarified, the Department and its bureaus should resume Twitter engagement as normal this weekend." With one exception, Crosson said: No social media posts on the policy priorities of the new Interior secretary, because Trump nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) has not yet been confirmed. It's safe to assume that the Park Service won't be estimating the crowd size of Saturday's Women's March on Twitter."

Keith's note: This is troubling. I wonder if similar action will be taken against @NOAA and @NASA for posting all of these tweets regarding recent scientific studies about the scope, scale, and causes of global climate change.

Final Memorandum, Federal Information Security Modernization Act: Fiscal Year 2016 Evaluation (IG-17-002; A-16-009-00)*

"*In preparation for public release, selected portions of this report containing sensitive security information have been redacted under exemption (b)(7)(E) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

NASA received 27 out of 100 possible maturity level points, indicating that overall it has not yet implemented an effective information security program."

Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, Wikipedia

"One of the requirements would be that the government develop a streamlined plan for its acquisitions. The bill would increase the power of existing Chief Information Officers (CIO) within federal agencies so that they could be more effective. Each agency would also be reduced to having only one CIO in the agency, who is then responsible for the success and failure of all IT projects in that agency. The bill would also require the federal government to make use of private sector best practices. The bill is intended to reduce IT procurement related waste."

Oversight Committee FITARA Scorecard (2015) Larger image

Oversight Committee FITARA Scorecard (2016) [Note: NASA is the only agency to get an overall 'F' grade]

Hearing, Federal Information Technology Reform Act Scorecard 2.0, House Oversight Committee

NASA CIO Wynn Testimony

"Admittedly, NASA's scores on the FITARA scorecard are unacceptable. We have work to do, and challenges to overcome. But at the same time, I believe it is also important to reflect on the major strides NASA has already taken in improving the management of and protection of the Agency's IT infrastructure. Thus, the remainder of my testimony today will provide a brief summary of our achievements to date, and other work in progress directed at becoming the best stewards of the Agency's IT resources."

Keith's note: I have to be completely honest: neither this hearing or the FITARA report/scorecard that was released were on my news radar. I need to thank NASA's AA for Legislative Affairs, Seth Statler, for pointing out the hearing - and NASA's 'F' grade. NASA has the distinction in 2016 for being the only agency to get an overall 'F', so congratulations are in order. Of course, in telling everyone about FITARA, it is quite obvious that Statler was doing a little blame shifting as he spoke for NASA CIO Renee Wynn - while throwing her under the bus. You'd expect the @NASACIO Twitter to say something too but they have not tweeted anything since 15 March 2015.

Nor is there any mention of the hearing, the CIO's testimony, the 2016 score card (or last year's), NASA's performance (or lack thereof) and what corrective actions NASA plans to make on the NASA CIO website. Searching for "FITARA" only yields 6 results across all of NASA's websites. This chatty 2016 newsletter from the CIO makes no mention of NASA's abysmal score in 2015 but does say "OCIO has made significant progress in the development of a solid implementation plan." So, as long as they are working on a plan, then everything must be OK.

There is a slightly goofy post at (not findable on the NASA search engine) "NASA's Approach to Implementing FITARA" from 10 March 2016 that opens with "My husband and I are planning a vacation to Disneyworld, an awesome destination for our five year old dreamer. How do we budget for such an grandiose trip?" , and then goes on to spout happy talk - with added IT word salad - about how seriously NASA takes FITARA. If only.

B-326944, Environmental Protection Agency--Application of Publicity or Propaganda and Anti-Lobbying Provisions, December 14, 2015, GAO

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated publicity or propaganda and anti-lobbying provisions contained in appropriations acts with its use of certain social media platforms in association with its "Waters of the United States" (WOTUS) rulemaking in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Specifically, EPA violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition though its use of a platform known as Thunderclap that allows a single message to be shared across multiple Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts at the same time. EPA engaged in covert propaganda when the agency did not identify EPA's role as the creator of the Thunderclap message to the target audience. The agency's #DitchtheMyth and #CleanWaterRules social media campaigns did not implicate the publicity or propaganda prohibition. EPA also violated anti-lobbying provisions though its hyperlinks to certain external Web pages in an EPA blog post. Both of the external Web pages led to appeals to the public to contact Congress in support of the WOTUS rule, which taken in context, constituted appeals to contact Congress in opposition to pending legislation. EPA associated itself with these messages through its decision to include the hyperlinks in its blog post."

E.P.A. Broke Law With Social Media Push for Water Rule, Auditor Finds, NY Times

"I can guarantee you that general counsels across the federal government are reading this report," said Michael Eric Hertz, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York who has written on social media and the government."

Dear NASA: Some Things Are More Important Than You, earlier post

"CRISPR was leading Pluto in the Science magazine poll until NASA decided to skew the results by using its 13.5 million follower Twitter account to tell people to vote for Pluto. No doubt the mission's PI will be jumping up and down and crowing about how popular Pluto is when in fact NASA stuffed the ballot box."

Keith's note: On one hand NASA does a wonderful job of using multiple social media platforms to distribute information about what it does with taxpayer dollars. One the other hand it sometimes tries to tip the balance to affect the perception of what it does on non-NASA websites -- as was the case with the "Breakthrough" poll in Science magazine. Congress wants NASA to explain itself yet it puts forbidding language in legislation to thwart them from doing so. That said, NASA is trying convince everyone that a mission to Mars without funding, an architecture, or a plan - is somehow real by using that #JourneyToMars hashtag in virtually everything it generates these days - even if there is no obvious connection to a mission to Mars.

This GAO ruling about whatever EPA was up to is bound to have an impact on NASA. In the end, however, I'm not sure it will be a positive impact.

Keith's note: NASA pays lots of money to send the endlessly-talented photographer/videographer Bill Ingalls to Russia - he breaks technology barriers whenever he can - with clear style - yet NASA PAO/NASA Social cannot find a way to link to his live event when he goes to the trouble of offering it? I am truly baffled. I did this sort of thing live from Everest Base Camp back in 2009. Its not easy but its not hard. Now NASA does it - but stumbles upon itself to find out how to tweet a simple web link?

Welcome to the New

"Based on extensive user feedback and testing, we've modernized to work across all devices and screen sizes, eliminate visual clutter, and put the focus on the continuous flow of news updates, images and videos we know you're looking for. We've simplified our image and video galleries to emphasize viewing and sharing the content, and organized that content around NASA's areas of work, like the Journey to Mars and exploration of the Solar System and Beyond. And we've made the content more "discoverable," by connecting features and images to related content through an "infinite scroll" of similar content and clickable topic labels that take you to pages with more related content."

Keith's note: Many people just type "" in their browser - like I do. Try that and see what happens - or click here: Some (but not all) browsers automatically add "www".

Why confidential tips to the government may not be confidential after all, Washington Post

"Got a hot tip about federal waste, fraud or corruption? You should think twice about using the government's own online systems for collecting such complaints. Many of them promise confidentiality but for years have sent sensitive data - including names, addresses and phone numbers of whistleblowers, as well as the details of their allegations - across the Internet in a way that could be intercepted by hackers or snoops. Or, perhaps worse still, by the agencies named in the complaints".

NASA OIG CyberHotline

Keith's note: No mention of encryption at the NASA IG website - or with the hotline - note that the URL is NOT

NASA is getting ready to communicate with aliens (Update 2), Sploid

"We can say little, if anything, about what these patterns [above] signify, why they were cut into rocks, or who created them. For all intents and purposes, they might have been made by aliens." When a new NASA book on alien communications has a paragraph like that, you better pay attention. Update 2: NASA pulled the book and press release from their site. Now the book is available here, as pointed out by a commenter."

Keith's note: Someone found a book "Archaeology, Anthropology, and Interstellar Communication" online at - one that NASA paid for, published, and posted. At one point it off handedly talks about aliens leaving messages on rock. So NASA pulls it offline. Now, people reading the articles that refer to the book get a dead link [update: NASA put the book back online so the link works again]. Well, nothing ever really disappears on the Internet. You can download the book here. Duh.

Keith's update: Classic NASA explanation below. NASA should post it on - at the links that news articles have been linking to so that all the people coming to visit the broken link see the real reason. When NASA just pulls things offline with no explanation it simply fuels these sort of stories.  Without the original document online no one can see the context that NASA wants you to refer to. So they go with what NASA has left there - a big gapping hole.

Keith's note: @NASASocial is retweeting lots of selfies today (this is one of the ones they decided to retweet). Instead of trying to raise issues relevant to Earth Day, NASA is turning the #Globalselfie thing into posting selfies of people and their pets. They could have easily tweeted a little guidance to people and ask them to highlight issues that affect Earth, the environment, climate change. They could also post links to specific projects that NASA is doing in this regard ... or organizations working to address these issues - but no, that takes strategic thought.  Why think too hard, @NASASocial? Just post selfies.

How journals like Nature, Cell and Science are damaging science, opinion, The Guardian

"We all know what distorting incentives have done to finance and banking. The incentives my colleagues face are not huge bonuses, but the professional rewards that accompany publication in prestigious journals - chiefly Nature, Cell and Science. ... These journals aggressively curate their brands, in ways more conducive to selling subscriptions than to stimulating the most important research. Like fashion designers who create limited-edition handbags or suits, they know scarcity stokes demand, so they artificially restrict the number of papers they accept. The exclusive brands are then marketed with a gimmick called "impact factor" - a score for each journal, measuring the number of times its papers are cited by subsequent research. Better papers, the theory goes, are cited more often, so better journals boast higher scores. Yet it is a deeply flawed measure, pursuing which has become an end in itself - and is as damaging to science as the bonus culture is to banking."

Keith's note: NASA is completely addicted to the mindset mentioned in this opinion piece. NASA allows itself to have terms dictated to them by Science and Nature as to how and when research news can be released rather than the other way around. Yet NASA has an "impact factor" and "reach" that vastly eclipses anything that these journals can offer. Its time for NASA to grow a spine and tell these journals that NASA is going to set the rules with regard to when and how NASA-funded research is going to be released.

Keith's note: The other day NASA sent out media advisories urging news media to cover NASA-sponsored and related events at the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco from 9-13 December. But as is usually the case NASA cannot seem to coordinate among itself when more than one center is involved.

NASA HQ and NASA Ames put out media advisories that state "Briefings will be streamed for registered journalists on the AGU press conference Web page. They will not be carried on NASA Television."

JPL put out the same media advisory but added detail:

"The briefings will be streamed for registered journalists on the AGU press conference Web page. Some news conference will be available via live streaming at, as follows:

Monday, 9 a.m. PST- Curiosity Rover Update
Monday, 10:30 a.m. PST - Mapping Snowpack from the Sky
Tuesday, 9 a.m. PST - Improving Natural Hazard Warnings
Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. PST - News from Juno's Earth Flyby
Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. PST - Dynamic Mars Over Time
Thursday, 11:30 a.m. PST - New Results from Cassini Mission to Saturn

The briefings will not be carried on NASA Television."

While these events will not be sent out on NASA Television, most people who watch NASA Television on the web do so via NASA's UStream webstreaming accounts. So, why can't NASA's TV page link to these webcasts? Clearly there is some infrastructure in place whereby JPL is able to stream events over UStream. The events listed as being streamed are only JPL-associated events with JPL people involved. Why can't this web streaming hardware be left in place to stream other NASA events? AGU apparenly has a UStream system in place, why can't NASA tap that?

More importantly, why didn't JPL PAO tell ARC, HQ, and other NASA centers that this would be streamed so as to make sure that the media advisories that "NASA" sent out were all in synch? Curiously both the JPL and HQ media advisories list Stephen Cole from NASA HQ PAO on them - so there is some level of contact between JPL and HQ PAO - at least on paper. Coles's response to my inquiries on this matter: "confusing, I know, but such is the wonderful world of multimedia color we live in." In other words 'yea, so what'?

In addition to these AGU media advisories there is a separate NASA HQ advisory that was put out for a Mars Curiosity radiation briefing at AGU. MSL is a JPL mission. But wait, since no one on the panel is from JPL, JPL is not going to live stream it. But NASA HQ says they will provide an audio stream for news media and the public and JPL makes mo mention of the event or the audio streaming. And you wonder why the agency has 3 (or 4) official MSL websites?

Last week NASA SMD held an online Town Hall meeting with the planetary science community to discuss budget issues. Next week at AGU there will be many more of these official NASA-sanctioned events wherein NASA representatives tell attendees (taxpayers too) what the challengers are in the months and years ahead. There is no apparent way for NASA researchers to participate in these Town Hall meetings unless they pay the expense of going to a meeting operated by a third party.

AGU claims there is a virtual viewing option (which is confusing to use and tries to charge you $103 for "free" access) that offers free webstreaming but does not allow any interaction - which is odd since its rather simple to enable the chat function on these webstreaming events. I am now told someone is going to "fix" that. Meawhile, media has some access to online NASA press events but that assumes that the AGU decides that you warrant media accreditation. NASA has no input to that process.

In summary: instead of having all NASA AGU-related events in one place so as to best inform the news media, scientific community, and public as to what is happening and how to see/participate, NASA's directorates, centers, programs, and Headquarters all seem to be running in a different direction ignoring obvious overlaps, points of cooperation, and ways to utilize limited fiscal resources.

Space station anniversary to be marked by Twitter event, CP

"Several space agencies are staging a global media event on Twitter this week to mark the 15th anniversary of the International Space Station.  The Canadian Space Agency, NASA, the European Space Agency and JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, will launch a worldwide wave on Twitter, beginning at 7 p.m. eastern Tuesday evening. That will be midnight GMT -- the official time zone of the orbiting space laboratory."

Keith's note: I guess I missed the NASA announcement on this Twitter event that starts in 3 hours. Indeed, looking at,, and I see zero mention of this Twitter event. Baffling.

Keith's note: At bottom of this release "Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites in Memory of Bruce Murray", JPL has included "For more information about Opportunity, visit , and . For more information about Curiosity, visit and" .

Two missions - five websites.

First for the Opportunity links. if you go to you do not get anything on Opportunity but rather its a Curiosity page. If you go to it redirects you to at JPL. If you go to it redirects you to at NASA HQ. If you go to the NASA HQ rover site it has a link to a JPL rover website at it does not link to And is identical to So, one of the three links listed has nothing to do with Opportunity. The NASA HQ MER site links to a JPL MER site but it is at a different address than the JPL MER website listed in the release even though the content is identical.

Now for the Curiosity links. If you go to it redirects you to at NASA HQ. If you go to you end up at a MSL website at JPL. The NASA HQ MSL site points to the JPL MSL site but the JPL MSL site does not point to the NASA HQ MSL site.

So, NASA is paying to maintain two MSL websites and the web addresses they give out are different than the actual web addresses - but they won't bother to put the actual addresses in press releases. Meanwhile, NASA is paying for 2 (or 3) MER websites - and again the links put in the press release are not the actual website address. And a website link that has "MSL" in it is listed as a place to get MER information. In total 5 links are included for 2 missions - and JPL PAO seems to think this is just fine. Meanwhile NASA PAO and SMD have the nerve to moan and complain about lack of education and public outreach funds? They are squandering their money on overlapping websites that don't even coordinate their content or links. I have raised this issue at several SMD media telecons. All they say is "we'll look into it". They don't. They just don't care about being efficient or coordinating. No - they just want more money and refuse to change the way that they operate. Clueless.

Oh yes --- did you know that NASA's Constellation Program is building the Altair Lunar Lander that will land on the moon by 2020? Moreover, the Altair will be launched on the Ares V rocket. HEOMD has an incredibly tangled web presence too.

- Why Does NASA Maintain Three (Four) Different MSL Websites?
- Why does NASA need multiple websites for the same mission?, earlier post
- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Sprawling Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

Keith's note: Have a look at the Twitter account @ExperienceNASA. It describes itself as "Welcome to your one-stop shop for opportunities to participate in/contribute to NASA goals/missions! Need help? Ask me! Washington, DC". This site is openly operated by NASA civil servant Erika Vick from her desk during the work day as part of her job as executive secretary of the NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee. NASA has confirmed this to me more than once.

Yet when you ask Erika whether this site expresses her opinions or official NASA opinions, she tweeted "@ExperienceNASA isn't official" and also tweeted "@ExperienceNASA points to  ...any account can do that...had hopes it would be but alas". Yet Erika's personnal Twitter account says "@ExperienceNASA by day". Erika can't have it both ways. If she is going to sit at her desk and use a Twitter account to overtly do her day job and configure the Twitter page so as to give a clear impression that NASA is behind it then she needs to operate it in a fashion commensurate with official NASA social media accounts. Otherwise she needs to make sure it is clear that this is a personal effort she does during coffee breaks. She can't have it both ways.

Is it good to try and enhance NASA EPO? Yes. Is it bad to mislead people in so doing? Yes. Once again it is clear that NASA has no standard policy for use of social media.

Paypal To Drop VMware From 80,000 Servers and Replace It With OpenStack, Forbes

"Backed by Intel and Dell, Mirantis has emerged as a clear leader in the OpenStack world heavily promoting and supporting the adoption of the platform originally developed by NASA and Rackspace."

NASA CIO Dumps NASA-Developed Open Stack, earlier post

"NASA's prestige and participation has been a selling point for advocates of the OpenStack open source cloud project, which NASA co-founded with San Antonio infrastructure-as-a-service provider RackSpace. Unfortunately, they'll have to get along without NASA from here on."

Earlier OpenStack postings

Keith's note: If you are outside the NASA firewall and try to access NTRS you still get this notice:

"The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

But if you try to gain access internally and are a civil servant or contractor you can register and then gain access. But wait, wasn't access by contractors supposed to have been the problem in the first place? Why doesn't a warning appear on the screen that tells contractor employees who are citizens of "China, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan" not to bother?

- Why Has NASA Banned Access to its Partner Saudi Arabia?, earlier post
- NASA Technical Reports Server Mysteriously Taken Offline, earlier post

International Space Apps Challenge

"The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology development event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space. Join us in over 75 cities around the world or at home on April 20-21, 2013."

Keith's note: At the NASA Advisory Council Committee on Education and Public Outreach meeting on Tuesday, Leland Melvin, the AA for Education at NASA, lamented why people are not promoting the International Space Apps challenge and urged committee members to spread the word. Well ... have a look at the NASA Education website. No mention is made of the International Space Apps Challenge. No mention at the NASA CIO, NASA Open Government, or's calendar either. Yawn.

NASA's Inconsistent Support of the International Space Apps Challenge, earlier post

"I think it is inexcusable that NASA has not made more of an effort to promote things such as the International Space Apps Challenge - especially when the White House places such a priority on things like this. There is much risk in this ad hoc and dysfunctional public engagement policy at NASA. Now that the first apps challenge event was such a success, efforts like this could continue - without overt NASA involvement - thus making NASA less - rather than more relevant. If that happens NASA only has itself to blame."

Keith's update: Here's a related event that also gets zero mention on NASA's Education website - or on NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate - the sponsor of the event itself.

Dark Side of the Jam: 'On March 8th, game developers around the planet will gather to make games about space and science. The Dark Side of the Jam is open to all, whether you're a veteran developer, hobbyist, or student. Ideally your games will not only be great achievements in coding prowess, but will help capture the public's interest in the real science and technology advancements being made in aerospace exploration. DSJ is an educational project of the Night Rover Challenge. Learn more about this $1.5 Million dollar NASA Centennial Challenge for advanced energy storage technology."

NASA and Internet Archive Launch Centralized Resource for Images (24 July 2008)

"NASA and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, made available the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA's vast collection of photographs, historic film and video Thursday. Located at, the Internet site combines for the first time 21 major NASA imagery collections into a single, searchable online resource. A link to the Web site will appear on the home page."

Keith's note: If you go to you will see that it is no longer totally dedicated to NASA content as this 2008 press release states. It used to look like this. Instead it redirects visitors to i.e. the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System which is mostly about guns, tanks, war, weapons, etc. This website is apparently operated by U.S. Army/USARCENT (Third Army).

What is really odd is that the domain is still registered to NASA - MSFC to be specific. Here's the current registration info. This makes no sense whatsoever. NASA has never bothered to explain this.

They're Clueless at NASA CIO

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA CIO webpage or the CIO's blog you will see absolutely no mention of this stolen laptop or the activities that followed. Some of the individuals affected by this event have not worked for NASA for more than a decade. As such, you would think that there would be somewhere at to get information as to what they should do. The CIO page is a logical place to look. Yet another example as to how the entire CIO organization is simply clueless and tone deaf when it comes to the interests of the agency's employees - past and present.

NASA is Buzzworthy

NASA Is the Government's One True Viral Hit Factory, Atlantic Wire

"NASA may only consume0.5 percent of the federal budget, but it generates practically all of Uncle Sam's viral marketing buzz.Never was that more apparent than on Monday morning following the successful Mars landing of Curiosity, the biggest and most advancedspacecraft ever dispatched to another planet. In an explosion of tweets, Tumbls, status updates, and blog posts, the Internet showed its love of NASA in a way other parts of the government could only dream of. So what's NASA's secret?"

NASA Announcement for Partnering Opportunities for Delivery of NASA Content To The Public

"In the existing infrastructure without our delivery partners, NASA may have to cap the number of visitors and hours of web streaming coverage or eliminate it entirely for particular peak activities. This would force visitors to seek content from other venues that may or may not cover NASA missions. To avoid this situation, NASA seeks to broaden its ability to reach new audiences and numbers of people through access to multiple venues."

Keith's note: One night in January I got frustrated trying to find something on NASA's Human Spaceflight website(s). So, I decided to map them. As you can see from this chart (enlarge), NASA's HSF web presence - like much of NASA's sprawling cyber infrastructure - is an unorganized mess. Yet despite this convoluted web structure, people often manage to find things simply because a lot of what NASA does is so compellingly cool. People find this stuff despite the convoluted and confused way that NASA organizes things (Google).

As I have already noted, most missions at NASA have two, often three (or more) official websites and web addresses. The websites are often out of synch with each other and yet also duplicative - at the same time. NASA also has multiple entry points for the same topic, dead ends, and pages that reflect programs that are dead. I sent this chart over to NASA. They agreed: its a mess. 5 months later. No change. So I thought I'd share it with y'all.

NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

NASA Memorandum for the Record: Protection of Sensitive Agency Information

"This memorandum reinforces NASA policy regarding the protection of Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) information. The memorandum applies to all Centers, Mission Directorates and their supporting commercial contractors that process NASA information. Individuals responsible for handling SBU information should be cognizant of the requirements outlined within this memorandum to ensure the protection of all SBU data."

- Stolen KSC Laptop Has Employee Personal Info On It (Update), earlier post
- NASA IT Security is a Mess - Stolen Laptops and Hacking JPL, earlier post

Testimony by NASA IG Paul Martin: NASA Cybersecurity: An Examination of the Agency's Information Security

"Between April 2009 and April 2011, NASA reported the loss or theft of 48 Agency mobile computing devices, some of which resulted in the unauthorized release of sensitive data including export-controlled, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and third-party intellectual property. For example, the March 2011 theft of an unencrypted NASA notebook computer resulted in the loss of the algorithms used to command and control the International Space Station...."

"...In one of the successful attacks, intruders stole user credentials for more than 150 NASA employees - credentials that could have been used to gain unauthorized access to NASA systems. Our ongoing investigation of another such attack at JPL involving Chinese-based Internet protocol (IP) addresses has confirmed that the intruders gained full access to key JPL systems and sensitive user accounts."

Testimony by NASA CIO Linda Cureton: NASA Cybersecurity: An Examination of the Agency's Information Security

"The NASA IT Security program is transforming and maturing. The real-world requirement is to protect NASA's information and information systems at a level commensurate with mission needs and information value. Therefore, NASA is increasing visibility and responsiveness through enhanced information security monitoring of NASA's systems across the Agency."

Space station control codes on stolen NASA laptop, CNet

"A laptop stolen from NASA last year contained command codes used to control the International Space Station, an internal investigation has found. The laptop, which was not encrypted, was among dozens of mobile devices lost or stolen in recent years that contained sensitive information, the space agency's inspector general told Congress today in testimony highlighting NASA's security challenges."

Japanese scientists fear spacecraft blueprint stolen after networks penetrated by virus, Daily Mail

"The Japanese space agency has admitted that a computer virus may have stolen sensitive information from their networks - including blueprints for a spacecraft. Hackers could sell on the information or blackmail the space agency for its return. A terminal connected to networks belonging to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) was infected with a Trojan. Data that could have been revealed includes email addresses, system log-in information and, crucially, the specification and operation of the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV)."

Keith's note: I have posted questions for Beth Beck at HEOMD, sent email requests, and yet no one has responded. Based on previous dysfunctional interactions with HEOMD (SOMD and ESMD) I have to conclude that my requests are being ignored - on purpose. Yawn. Oh well, this is not exactly a new behavior on NASA's part. So much for the openness and transparency policies established by the White House that the folks love to brag about. NASA seems to think it is exempt. I guess it is time for a bunch of old-fashioned FOIA requests.

And yes Beth, I will FOIA your complaints about me to the OGC, etc.

- NASA, Google, and Lenovo Team Up for ISS Educational Project, earlier post
- Yet Another Stealth Website NASA Can't Coordinate, earlier post
- Questions for Beth Beck Regarding, earlier post

NASA Launches New Open Government Blog

"The site is a collaborative blog for the open government community to highlight the ways that transparency, participation, and collaboration are being embraced throughout the agency. "NASA is committed to experimenting with and embracing new participatory ways of collaboration," said Linda Cureton, the agency's chief information officer. "The launch of open.NASA is a new chapter in NASA's culture of openness and an exciting new way to engage citizens in our activities."

NASA Open Source Summit

NASA To Host Open Source Summit March 29-30 In California

"NASA will host a summit about open source software development on March 29-30 at the agency's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT on both days. NASA's first Open Source Summit will bring together engineers, policy makers and members of the open source community. Participants will discuss the challenges within the existing open source policy framework and propose modifications to facilitate NASA's development, release and use of software."

Register as a remote participant.

Live streaming of the event can be found here.

Keith's note: As much as I loathe the overuse of the word "awesome" by Gen Y, the NASA Advisory Council took an informal vote during lunch break and asked me to post this video. Tip of the hat to NASA PAO. Direct link for those of you that have YouTube blocked by NASA.

Keith's update: A Carnegie astronomer notes: "While brimming with enthusiasm, this video makes a major error by claiming that JWST will be able "to see the Earth" if it was 25 light-years away. Sadly, this is not true. Here is what the JWST web page states is the true capability of JWST: "Webb can only see large planets orbiting at relatively large distances from the parent star. To see small Earth-like planets, which are billions of time fainter than their parent star, a space telescope capable of seeing at even higher angular resolution will be required. NASA is studying such a space mission, the Terrestrial Planet Finder." This quote is from the JWST web page located at: JWST will do fantastic science, but if someone says that it will do things that are impossible for it to do, the entire project is likely to suffer.

Message to NASA Civil Service and Contractor Employees: Social Networking Tools and Web 2.0 - Appropriate Use of Web Technologies

"The use of Web 2.0 tools can significantly enhance NASA's ability to communicate with employees and the public about its mission. The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance to NASA civil service and contractor employees regarding the use of these Web technologies to facilitate collaboration and information sharing within NASA. These Web technologies include tools such as wikis, blogs, mash ups, web feeds (i.e., Really Simple Syndication and Rich Site Summary (RSS) feeds), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), and forums, which are often collectively referred to as Web 2.0.

NASA Headquarters and the NASA centers are encouraged to use Web 2.0 tools. Employees implementing Web 2.0 technologies or integrating these tools into the NASA environment are responsible for posting and using content in accordance with applicable ethics, information assurance (IA) and privacy laws, regulations, and NASA policies. They also must adhere to IA, records management and privacy policy guidance. Policy regarding the appropriate use (both personal and professional) of government equipment with regards to Web 2.0 can be found in NPD 2540.1.

Using social media in a professional capacity (e.g., creating a Twitter feed for a mission) is an example of an official NASA communication. The informality and enforced brevity of such media notwithstanding, NASA personnel using Web 2.0 tools are representing the agency, and their communications must be professional and factually accurate."

Keith's note: An example of the implications of this policy: those of you who have Twitter accounts that you use to relay information about NASA can no longer block people from following you. You need to be open and transparent about the information you relay as a NASA employee (civil servant and contractor). If you cannot refrain from Twittering about both personal and work-related stuff then a remarkably simple solution is to get another Twitter account for your personal use.

NASA's Nebula Cloud Computing Technology To Play Key Role In New Open Source Initiative

"The core technology developed for NASA's Nebula cloud computing platform has been selected as a contributor for OpenStack, a newly-launched open source cloud computing initiative. It will pull together more than 25 companies to play a key role in driving cloud computing standards for interoperability and portability."

Rackspace and NASA open-source partnership could spur innovation, GCN

"Torlini acknowledged the concerns that many users have about security in the cloud. However, he said freeing up the code would present more opportunities to improve security. He also stressed that this shouldn't be seen as purely a Rackspace initiative, "Everyone is welcome to contribute," he said."

NASA and Rackspace part the clouds with open source project, ARS Technica

"Modern scientific computation requires ever increasing storage and processing power delivered on demand," said NASA CTO Chris Kemp in a statement. "To serve this demand, we built Nebula, an infrastructure cloud platform designed to meet the needs of our scientific and engineering community. NASA and Rackspace are uniquely positioned to drive this initiative based on our experience in building large scale cloud platforms and our desire to embrace open source."

NASA gives OpenStack instant credibility, ZDNet

"The new OpenStack project will power NASA's own Nebula cloud and puts new pressure on Eucalyptus, as well as Amazon's EC2 and the whole Hadoop ecosystem. The system is being released under an Apache 2 license."

NASA Joins Web Consortium to Help Improve Universal Access

"NASA announced Thursday it has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The consortium is an international organization that develops protocols, standards and guidelines to ensure universal Web access. "Standards will play a key role in making NASA's content more accessible on the Internet and in the implementation of our Open Government plan," said Chris Kemp, chief technology officer for Information Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Additionally, standards nurture technology innovation. We are especially interested in participating in those areas where NASA's ongoing technical requirements overlap with the W3C's standardization efforts."

Open source is NASA's next frontier, FCW

"The challenges to government's adoption and participation in open-source communities is often thought to be a simpe culture clash, but in reality it goes deeper than that, accordning to NASA's newly-appointed chief technology officer. "The issues that we need to tackle are not only cuture, but beyond culture," said Chris Kemp, formerly chief information officer at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "And I think we need new policy and support from the administration and Congress to help us tackle" them."

NASA Names Chief Technology Officer for IT

"NASA Chief Information Officer Linda Cureton announced Chris C. Kemp as the first NASA Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, for Information Technology, a new position established to lead IT innovation at the space agency."

Keith's note: NASA civil servant Nick Skytland is one of the Education and Public Outreach Officers for NEEMO-14. He is overtly using his Twitter account for the performance of his official duties - yet he still blocks specific taxpayers from following his postings. I have to wonder when NASA CIO Linda Cureton will finally put a social media policy in place at NASA that deals with such flagrant abuses of one's position as a NASA employee.


Congress takes another stride toward public access to research: Federal Research Public Access Act introduced in the House of Representatives, Alliance for Taxpayer Access

"Like the Senate bill introduced in 2009 by Senators Lieberman (I-CT) and Cornyn (R-TX), H.R. 5037 would unlock unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation."

FOIA Request Response: 6 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Audit Reports, 1996-1998, Government Attic

"The following reports could not be located:

- A-GO-96-006, Survey of NASA Space Operations Consolidation;
- JS-96-007, Russian Involvement in the ISS Program;
- AKE-96-001, Orbiter Valuation;
- G98-0I8, Modifications to NASA's Safety Reporting System;
- IGMEMO 11, (sic); and
- an unredacted version of IG-99-036, X-38/Crew Return Vehicle Operational

NASA's Nebula rolls out in the cloud, Federal News Radio

"Nebula is 18 months old and is literally rolling along. Agencies across the federal government are exploring cloud computing, but NASA's work in the area could be become the poster child for its use. Their Nebula Cloud Computing Platform at the Ames Research Center in California is being touted as a possible model for others. Chris Kemp, chief information officer of NASA Ames, explains the benefits of Nebula. "The real thrust of the project was making it easier for NASA to make its data accessible on the Web. NASA started using the Internet long ago, and, as a result, we have thousands of public-facing Web sites, and in today's environment, that's expensive to operate. It's also a large attack surface from a security perspective. We're trying to make it easier and more secure for NASA data to be accessed by our partners and the public."

Making NASA "Open"

NASA Idea Brainstorming Tool, Open Government at NASA

"NASA is seeking input on the creation of the NASA Open Government Plan. As outlined in the Open Government Directive, this brainstorming tool is a mechanism gain input on how to make the key principle of openness a meaningful pillar of NASA's mission, and how to implement participation, transparency and collaboration activities such that NASA becomes more relevant, efficient, and accountable. Key ideas and suggestions developed through this process will be prioritized in the NASA Open Government Plan."

NASA Advisory Council Education and Public Outreach Subcommittee Meeting (17 Feb 2010)


"- Associate Administrator for Public Affairs Briefing.
- Discussion of Social Media Opportunities and Challenges.
- Associate Administrator for Education Briefing.
- Discussion of Opportunities and Challenges to Reach K-12 Students.
- Discussion of how to Organize the Committee Work Plan."

Keith's note: All of these NAC committee and subcommittee meetings are almost always held in a windowless conference room inside NASA HQ. If you can get to them then you can sit and listen - if you happen to read the Federal Register or NASA Watch and even know that they are happening. Otherwise, you are out of luck since NASA never records them for later viewing by taxpayers. Given the tremendous changes that have been proposed for the agency, employees and the public have a vested interest in these discussions - now more than at any time in recent years.

The NASA people who supported the Augustine Committee's activities set a new standard for how social media can be used to relay policy information to the public. Indeed, they often had things online before the media covering these events did. There is no reason why that standard of quality should not be applied to all public meetings concerning NASA policy.

Given that the Obama Administration is all about openness, transparency and all that good public participation stuff - and that this meeting is about "Education and Public Outreach" perhaps PAO AA Morrie Goodman (a scheduled speaker) can start with this subcommittee and provide a live webcast of this event on NASA's USTREAM.TV account. The webcast can be archived for later viewing.

It is very easy to do. All it takes is a laptop, a webcam, and an Internet connection. I have done these things on an EVDO modem live at Desert RATS from the middle of an Arizona desert, from the basement of Rayburn House Office Building, and from Everest Base Camp in Nepal at 17,500 feet over a satellite phone.

Photo: Keith addressing a session at a broadcasters convention in Atlanta in April 2009 via laptop webcam live over a BGAN satellite phone from a field outside the monastery in Tengboche, Nepal. Note the very, very dense fog - yaks lurked in the mist a few feet away. Larger image

@Astro_Soichi is sending back pictures - live - from ISS via Twitter and Twitpic:

- Golden Gate Bridge, San Fransisco, CA. Beautiful shadow :-)
- Noctilucent clouds. Antarctic. Priceless.

But wait - there's more yet to come from orbit: according to JT Creamer: RT @Astro_TJ: @space_pete Yes it's true: our internal cameras wlll stream to the Web beginning Monday! Wave when you see us!! :)

NASA's space tweets are part of a larger conversation, Government Computing News

"... the software upgrade that made it possible is pretty impressive. The system, which NASA calls the Crew Support LAN, taps into existing communications links -- a Ku satellite band with 3 megabits/sec upstream and 10 megabits/sec downstream -- to give astronauts Web access, along with the ability to better communicate with family and loved ones during their long stays on the space station. All that while traveling at 17,300 mph some 250 miles above the Earth."

NASA Images iPhone App

"Check out the free NASA Images iPhone App, a window to the content available on With the app you can access the entire NASA Images library from your iPhone along with the metadata for each image, video, and animation."

Get the App

Ground control to NASA TV: liven up, LA Times

"The man in charge of Washington, D.C.-based NASA Television, executive producer Fred Brown, acknowledges that the network is light-years from where it could be if it had the money and a mandate to properly entertain the masses. But that was never the point, he said. The network was launched in the early 1970s strictly to provide "real-time mission coverage" for NASA's own personnel, Brown said. "It wasn't designed as a television channel as most people would think of a television channel," he added. Over the years, its role has grown; it now offers educational programs and serves a public-relations function by keeping the media informed about space-related news."

Russian Cosmonaut's Blog Much Funnier Than NASA, Wired

"It's not just NASA that's hip to the social media game anymore. Now, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has one of its own blogging from the International Space Station."

Orbital log Maksim Suraev's blog, Russia Today

"In the photo I'm holding the latest gadget developed by our military. The device works in two modes. One allows eavesdropping on our colleagues in the American segment. You can get into the FCB (Functional Cargo Block - ed.) and record all their conversations. Also, the device can be used for martial arts training - to be prepared for an alien attack on the Russian segment of the ISS."

Keith's note: This page just appeared at about new NASA PAO AA Morrie Goodman. Oddly, no press release was issued about his arrival at NASA or of Alan Ladwig's move to be one of his two deputies.

Keith's earlier note: MorrieStory, the Twitter account for NASA's new AA for PAO, Morrie Goodman, does not follow a single NASA Twitter!! Tsk Tsk. Maybe he needs a few followers to urge him on ... You can friend him on Facebook too.

Facebook for scientists: Map your expertise, Indiana University

"Indiana University has received more than $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to collaborate on a $12.2 million, seven-university project designed to network researchers around the country. While the proposed new networking system will contain authentication mechanisms to protect sensitive data and intellectual property, it is being described as a Facebook for scientists."

NIH funds a Facebook for scientists, FCW

"The new system will federate information about faculty and staff from institutional repositories, listings of published articles from academic publishers, and information provided by researchers. Using Vivo, users can search the information and assemble it on a unique page."

Keith's note: Too bad NASA can't do this. Spacebook (internal NASA access only) doesn't really count since only NASA employees inside the firewall can see it - and other field centers have their own competing systems. Taxpayers are denied access. If this sort of information were out in the open, in an easy to use format, not only would NASA and NASA-funded personnel have easier access to what eaveryoen was doing, but so would the taxpaying public. Indeed, this might even lead to unexpected avenues of collaboration between NASA and the outside world.

I think every employee at NASA - from Charlie Bolden to maintenance workers - civil servants and contractors alike - should be required to have and maintain a Facebook Page. Nothing fancy - just who they are and what they do. Performance plan, job description, and recent publications etc. You can set these things up in an hour or less and tweak them when need be. If they want to make it fancier beyond that - great. No need to make it their personal page - they can do that elsewhere. I am talking about a professional page.

In addition to making NASA more open to various search engines, this might also serve to enlighten policy makers and the public as to what vast range of things NASA actually does, how real (and normal) the NASA family actually is, and that they are a part of the economy - and society - just like everyone else. Right now most of what NASA actually does is hidden behind a firewall in a black box with PAO as the only one with a key.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Launches Spacebook, NASA CIO Blog

GAO Report Warns of Vulnerabilities in NASA's Networks, House Science and Technology Committee

GAO: Information Security: NASA Needs to Remedy Vulnerabilities in Key Networks

"Although NASA has made important progress in implementing security controls and aspects of its information security program, it has not always implemented appropriate controls to sufficiently protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the information and systems supporting its mission directorates. Specifically, NASA did not consistently implement effective controls to prevent, limit, and detect unauthorized access to its networks and systems."

NASA network security torched, Network World
NASA IT Vulnerable After 1,120 Security Incidents,

NASA LaRC Website Policy LMS-CP-5909 Revision: F

"General Note - Web sites shall be reviewed yearly for public web sites and every three years for all other web sites by the RNO for the web site. This review shall be reflected by renewal of web site registrations in AWRS. Policy and content reviews shall be performed yearly for public web sites and every three years for all other web sites by Center subject matter experts tracked by AWRS as required by the Agency and LaRC Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Any violations of these policies and content restrictions constitute grounds for removal of the web site from the LaRC Network. The RNO for web sites that do not meet established guidelines will be contacted and informed of necessary changes. Failure to incorporate required changes within 30 days will necessitate removal from the LaRC Network."

Keith's note: Typical NASA: come up with a convoluted multi-step process to develop websites - one that requires many people to complete and approve, tolerates long lag times for compliance, and then allows the websites to sit for years before anyone is required to check to see if they still work.

Army gives soldiers access to Twitter, Facebook, GCN

"An Army order directs network managers across the country to stop blocking soldiers' access to certain Web 2.0 Web sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, according to several media reports today. The order issued May 18 jointly by the 93rd and 106th Signal Brigades, permits access to five social media sites within the continental U.S, said Stephen Bullock, strategic communication director for 7th Signal Command, which oversees the brigades. Bullock said the order "wasn't really a reversal of policy," as much as an effort to address inconsistent and often arbitrary decisions that had been made from base to base. "So we gave guidance that made it a consistent set of web filtering standards, resulting in better service for our users," he said. Access should be available to Facebook: Delicious, Flickr, Twitter and Vimeo via the Unclassified but Sensitive Internet Protocol Router Network, he said."

NASA JSC MOD Memo: Policy on Use of Social Media

"Reply to Attn of : DA-09-010
TO: All MOD Personnel
FROM: DA/Director, Mission Operations
SUBJECT: Policy on Use of Social Media

The following is MOD policy for use of "social media" (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, etc.). This policy is consistent with JSC Announcement 08-032 and NASA Policy Directive (NPD) 2540.1F "Policy on Personal Use of Government Office Equipment Including Information Technology."

This policy applies to all MOD employees: NASA, NASA contractor, and subcontractor personnel who are authorized by contract to use Government office equipment.

NASA employees and contractors are permitted limited use of Government office equipment for personal needs if the use does not interfere with official business and involves only minimal additional expense to the Government. Personal use means uses other than for official Government business. Some personal use is considered inappropriate. Specific provisions regarding personal use and activities particularly considered inappropriate are identified in NPD 2540.1F*. More specifically, section e, paragraph 10, defines "Inappropriate Personal Uses" to include: "Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority."

To be compliant, MOD will enforce a policy of not permitting the posting to "social" sites of mission operations information that has not been released by the Public Affairs Office (PAO). This includes, but is not limited to, realtime information. PAO is responsible for posting such information.

Original Signed by:

Paul S. Hill"

* (10) Use for posting Agency information to external newsgroups, bulletin boards, or other public forums without authority. This includes any use that could create the perception that the communication was made in one's official capacity as a Federal Government employee or uses at odds with NASA's mission or positions. Inappropriate use also includes participating in Chat Rooms, News Groups, or other similar activities where the posting and NASA internet address will be seen by the public. Adding a disclosure statement that the views expressed do not represent those of the Agency is not an acceptable alternative.

Keith's note: Wow. So ... MOD can pre-emptively make decisions that JSC (and NASA) PAO should be making. How dysfunctional. This is certainly in overt conflict with what the White House wants all Federal agencies to be doing so as to be "transparent" and "open". Stay tuned.

Food and Drug Administration Transparency Task Force; Public Meeting, FDA

SUMMARY: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public meeting to solicit recommendations from interested persons on ways in which FDA can make useful and understandable information about FDA activities and decisionmaking more readily available to the public. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information to the public about government activities and initiatives. For FDA, providing information to the public in a timely, user-friendly manner is important to enhance the work of the agency."

Government transparency and accountability is a priority for the Obama Administration. On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued two memoranda to the heads of executive departments and agencies regarding openness in government. In the memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (``Transparency and Open Government memorandum''), the Administration has pledged to take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information to the public rapidly, and in a form that is easily accessible and user friendly. Executive departments and agencies have been charged with harnessing new technologies to make information about agency operations and decisions available online and readily available to the public. Further, executive departments and agencies have been instructed to solicit public input to identify information of greatest use to the public."

Keith's note: NASA is going to have to comply with this Administration directive at some point. The complete FDA Notice is below. How much of the FDA approach could be repurposed for use by NASA? What additional things would be needed? Thoughts?

NASA plans invite-only launch access for Twittering, blogging media, FreeSpace

"NASA, which has tiptoed into the new world of social media with Twittering astronauts and Facebooking rovers, is taking the next step with an invitation-only outreach to "the twedia" to cover a space shuttle launch. There are so many details to work out that the so-called TweetUp, originally planned for next week's launch of space shuttle Endeavour, has been rescheduled for the August flight of shuttle Discovery, said Michael Cabbage, a spokesman for the U.S. space agency."

NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community

"This proposed procurement is a continuation of an existing contractual agreement for the developed prototype NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community (NSAVC) web site. ... NASA HQs intends to issue a Sole Source Procurement to the Omni Media Cast Technologies, LLC to continue performance for the NASA Student Ambassadors Virtual Community web communication tool. ... Interested organizations may submit their capabilities and qualifications to perform the effort in writing, by FAX or E-Mail, to the identified point of contact not later than 11:00 a.m. (EST.) on April 1, 2009. Such capabilities/qualifications will be evaluated solely for the purpose of determining whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis. A determination by the Government not to compete this proposed effort on a full and open competition basis, based upon responses to this notice, is solely within the discretion of the government."

Editor's note: Wow. One full week to determine "whether or not to conduct this procurement on a competitive basis." That is not exactly expending much in the way of effort to conduct a meaningful evaluation. NASA clearly wants to sole source this and not waste any time, it would seem. Also, how can other interested organizations even provide a credible response when this virtual community is not even available for their inspection? Neither are any requirements for the operation of this "virtual community" provided. Curious.

NASA Solicitation: Student Ambassadors Program STEM, earlier post

UK Hacker Hires ET Lawyer

Hacker appeals to home secretary, BBC

"Glasgow-born Gary McKinnon, 42, who last month lost his appeal against extradition, could face life in jail if convicted of accessing 97 computers. His lawyer Karen Todner said his human rights would be breached if he did not return to the UK after a trial."

UFO hacker is broken man, says family, The Scotsman

"McKinnon, an unemployed systems analyst from north London, admits accessing 97 US military and Pentagon computers, but claimed he was looking for UFO files. The US government accuses him of stealing passwords and deleting files. McKinnon faces up to 70 years in prison if he is found guilty."

Editor's note: I am not certain why this guy is worried. If he is found guilty of attacking American government computers, his alien lawyers can just beam him out of the courtroom up to the Mothership - which the Shuttle will soon be unable to reach. He'll be at home anyway - since it seems that all of the aliens I see on TV have British accents.

JPL is Blogging

Editor's note: JPL now has a blog online at

NASA OIG on STI Review

NASA OIG: Actions Needed to Ensure Scientific and Technical Information is Adequately Reviewed at GSFC, JSC, LaRC, and MSFC

"Although we could not specifically validate the authors' level of awareness, none of the four Centers had active programs designed to educate new employees or to periodically brief existing employees about the STI review requirement. The effectiveness of NASA's STI review process could be improved if STI authors are timely notified of the results of the STI review and if NASA took steps to ensure STI authors are aware of their responsibilities under NPR 2200.2B. Those actions would remove uncertainty from the process and further reduce NASA's risk of inappropriately releasing restricted or sensitive STI."

NASA Hosts Industry Day to Discuss IT Infrastructure Acquisitions

"On Wednesday, July 23, NASA will host an Industry Day to discuss upcoming agency-wide acquisitions for the Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Improvement Program, or I3P. The program strategically will procure information technology infrastructure services for NASA."

NASA Solicitation: NASA Headquarters Agency-wide Infrastructure Improvement Program Industry Day

"NASA will NOT conduct an open Question and Answer session as a part of this meeting."

Editor's note: WayneHale Is now Twittering. He has 16 followers. Maybe he will add a few more. Update: in 2 hours he more than doubled his number of followers.

Oh yes MarsPhoenix currently has 20,057 followers. CNNBreaking News has 21,667 followers. Soon Phoenix may be more popular than CNN on Twitter - and will have done so in mere weeks.

The Real Value of Twitter To NASA's Space Missions, Wired

"What better way to reach a multi-tasking, short-attention-spanned Gen Y'er than to limit your messages to 140 characters? I think my favorite NASA Baby Boomer reaction to Twitter (a micro blogging tool that lets you send 140 characters to subscriber's Instant Messaging programs or cell phones) is, "Well, there is a technology that solves a problem I don't have."

Editor's note: Yawn, yet another example of someone parsing new Internet capabilities (such as Twitter) into false dichotomiesas belonging to either Gen Y or Baby Boomers. This is getting old. Look at the most popular Twitter feeds. I can see a large number of authors/topics whose feeds are most certainly NOT being authored by someone from Gen Y. Can't we all just get along and use these tools without applying an inaccurate litmus test?

Instant Messaging Proves Useful in Reducing Workplace Interruption, Ohio State

"Employers seeking to decrease interruptions may want to have their workers use instant messaging software, a new study suggests. A recent study by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine found that workers who used instant messaging on the job reported less interruption than colleagues who did not."

Hacking Phoenix

Hacker changes Phoenix Mars Lander's website, spokeswoman says, AP

"A spokeswoman for the Phoenix Mars Lander mission says a hacker took over the mission's public website during the night and changed its lead news story. Spokeswoman Sara Hammond says a mission update posted Friday was replaced with a hacker's signature and a link redirecting visitors to an overseas website."

Investigative Summary Regarding Allegations that NASA Suppressed Climate Change Science and Denied Media Access to Dr. James E. Hansen, A NASA Scientist

"Regardless of the aforementioned Space Act standards, we otherwise found that the Agency mismanaged this activity insomuch as it occurred over a sustained period of time until senior management was eventually alerted by congressional staff and the media. That senior management did not know before then was emblematic of ineffective internal management controls such as a dispute resolution mechanism between contributing scientists and public affairs officials. This is especially true in that relations between NASA's climate change science community and the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs had somehow deteriorated into acrimony, non-transparency, and fear that science was being politicized--attributes that are wholly inconsistent with effective and efficient Government. The investigation also uncovered that one of the underlying contributing factors of these problems may have, in fact, been in the very structure of the NASA Headquarters Office of Public Affairs, where political appointees were placed in the seemingly contradictory position of ensuring the "widest practicable" dissemination of NASA research results that were arguably inconsistent with the Administration's policies, such as the "Vision for Space Exploration."

Excerpts below

Editor's 31 May 11 pm EDT update: The MarsPhoenix Twitter feed now has 11,667 followers whereas the Twitter feeds for Twitter's Co-founder Biz Stone only has 11,178, Stephen Colbert has 10,593 followers, and Gen Y techie favorite Wil Wheaton (Star Trek actor) has 11,270 followers.

Editor's 1 June 12 am EDT update: One hour later and there are now 12,119 followers. That's nearly a 5% increase in just one hour.

Editor's 1 June 12 pm EDT update: Now up to 13,970 followers. Twitterholic now ranks it at 20th most popular.

Editor's 2 June 12 am EDT update: Now up to 15,038 followers. While the Twitterholic ranking has not been updated, this number of followers would rank it at around 14. At this growth rate MarsPhoenix will break into the top ten in a matter of days - and all of the great science news has just started to arrive.

Editor's 2 June 12 pm EDT update: Its now up to 15,626 followers. Twitterholic shows it ranked as the 14th most popular Twitter feed. Next big hurdle: passing CNN Breaking News (cnnbrk) with 20,330 followers.

Earlier posts below

NASA Space Missions Fuel Massive Storage Projects, Byte and Switch

"Earlier this month, NASA revealed that it will deploy a 20,480-core Altix ICE supercomputer from SGI at its Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley this summer. Capable of 245 trillion operations per second (Teraflops), the supercomputer will support future NASA projects, chiefly manned missions to the moon and potentially to Mars."

NASA taking open source into space, CNet

"Open source is such a natural for government agencies, it should come as no surprise that NASA is now developing an open-source project called CosmosCode. The goal? "To provide a common access point for individuals, academics, companies, and space agencies around the world using, contributing to, or supporting re-usable, modular, extensible, or standards driven space exploration software."

Virtual Shana

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: California Outreach Effort

"I am excited about the future and I enjoy talking about what we are doing and where we are going with the Nation's space program. What resonates with the general public the most is the combination of the inspiration from our space exploration missions with the examples of how NASA-derived technologies are critical for life here on Earth.

After my keynote in San Jose, several individuals said my speech was "powerful" and that is such a compliment because now they "get" it and are re-energized in their interest in America's space program. As my staff says, the speeches I give are getting better. I am an introvert by nature and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone, but I feel it is extremely important to discuss the importance of NASA to the general public."

NASA employee suspended for blogging, FCW

"A NASA employee has been suspended for soliciting donations and writing politically partisan blog posts and sending e-mail messages while at work, violations of the Hatch Act."

Editor's note: I got a Twitter note an hour or so ago from "reference to nasawatch at the all-hands - how folks use that more than insidenasa." Interesting. I am curious to see how the new inside-the-firewall NASAsphere system works. Does anyone have a screen grab they can send me of NASAsphere that they can share? This is what InsideNASA looks like today.

Editor's update: this is a screen grab from NASAsphere. I have learned that this is not a permanent NASA feature - at least not yet. It is undergoing an evaluation period for the next month or so. At that point a decision will be made whether to go ahead - and what software platform to use.

NASA JPL Server Consolidation and Virtualization Assessment Request for Information

"JPL has an inventory of about 19,000 computers, ranging from Windows and Macintosh desktops, to 1,000 node compute clusters. Of these 19,000 computers, about 5,600 are computer servers performing a wide variety of computing tasks. The space requirements of this diverse server population are exceeding JPL's capacity, and plans to add many new computing capabilities over the next few years means that the Lab needs to consolidate its computing footprint both through hardware consolidation, as well as the use of virtualization tools."

[Video below]

Fixing NASA IT

NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale's Blog: Information Technology Update

"This week at the Operations Management Council (OMC) meeting, a significant portion was dedicated to the work we are doing to improve information technology (IT). In 2007, the Strategic Management Council, approved strategic initiatives to:

1) clarify the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as stated in NPD 1000.3 and define core IT services that shall be provided by the CIO;

2) realign the NASA IT organization to reflect the role of the CIO and better connect with customers;

"Tuesday May 6, 2008 - 9:10 AM Central


If you get an e-mail with "WELLCOME TO THE NEW NASA WEBMAIL" in the subject line, DO NOT provide the information this e-mail is asking for. This is a bogus e-mail that needs to be deleted and ignored. We are working to block this e-mail from NOMAD customers."

Editor's note: Hmmm - this is from NOMAD after all. How do we know that this alert is not fake and that the original message is actually legit? Isn't NOMAD supposed to prevent this from happening in the first place - or did NOMAD cause it to happen? Yes I am being silly. I just can't shake the 40 year old mental image of the "NOMAD" robot from Star Trek and the voice that it used every time I read a NOMAD Update. Perhaps someone could forward the offending email text to me?

Hacking NASA

Hacking NASA: One small step for man, one giant leap for hackers?, ZD Net

"The CORE Security Team released an advisory to the Full-Disclosure mailing list today that documented a stack overflow in NASA's Common Data Format libs. Looking at this bug, the tech details aren't overwhelming, I think I'm mostly excited about it due to the high profile of hacking NASA libs. One can hardly fault NASA though, I mean, our government can't even get them enough money to do some real space exploration, it's hard to fault them for missing some security issues."

Common Data Format (CDF) Version 3.2 and earlier Buffer Overflow Vulnerability

"The libraries for the scientific data file format, Common Data Format (CDF) version 3.2 and earlier, have the potential for a buffer overflow vulnerability when reading specially-crafted (invalid) CDF files. If successful, this could trigger execution of arbitrary code within the context of the CDF-reading program that could be exploited to compromise a system, or otherwise crash the program. While it's unlikely that you would open CDFs from untrusted sources, we recommend everyone upgrade to the latest CDF libraries on their systems, including the IDL and Matlab plugins. Most worrisome is any service that enables the general public to submit CDF files for processing."

Editor's note: Comments? Send them to Comments below.

Reader note: "Mr. Cowing, A couple of things regarding the Gen Y pitch you posted on NASAWatch on 4/25/08, just for the heck of it.

First, I found this item "Why Generation Y is broke" linked on InstaPundit earlier today - you may find it interesting if you haven't already read it.

Second, something in the above item made me think about the real message of that Gen Y NASA pitch, so I re-read that pitch. My conclusion - Gen Y is all about Gen Y, even the NASA Gen Y folks. Except for one bullet, the first sub-bullet on Page 20 (by Adobe Reader's count - don't they teach Gen Y folks about page numbers, especially on LONG presentations?), the thrust of the entire presentation seems to be: What can you old farts do for us? [ Editor's note: Editor's note: This is my fault - I converted this presentation to pdf from Powerpoint]

NASA: How CoWorking Opened Us Up, PSFK Conference

"In this out-take from PSFK Conference New York, Andrew Hoppin talks about the moment when NASA decided that they needed to open up and collaborate more with their partners and the community in Silicon Valley, they were faced with the challenges of 'home-land' security and red-tape."

Next Gen Presentation NASA Strategic Management Council 15 April 2008

"We're asking to create an environment where all NASA employees can leverage their strengths to push the limits of science and space exploration by:

- Providing the current NASA workforce with infusion of fresh ideas, methodologies and technologies.
- Providing the Next Gen NASA workforce the programs and experience today that it needs to be the leaders in the future.
- Enabling enhanced communication and collaboration between NASA centers.
- Getting more young people in the door."

DATE: 03/28/2008
NOTE BODY: The Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications Ares integration team created a YouTube ID for Ares video content and researched technical specifications and procedures for uploading video content to YouTube. This is part of an outreach into new media to engage the interest of Generation Y in NASA's work.

Editor's note: They certainly can make something that just about any kid in grammar school can do these days (i.e. "click to upload") sound very formalistic and technical. Ah, NASA.

NOMAD Operational Status

"Tuesday, April 1, 2008 - 9:30 AM Central - Goodlink Outage (March 25-27, 2008) At this time a root cause for the issue that caused the outage is undetermined. The NOMAD Team is waiting for additional information from Good that will hopefully pinpoint the root cause. The team did several things to correct the issue but it is undetermined which action or the combination of actions corrected the problem.- deleted corrupted cache files, moved the Good admin account to another server, deleted old mapi profile."

Reader note: "I haven't seen much coverage of NASA's NOMAD (email/exchange server) implementation bringing ALL of NASA into one centralized email system.

Some effects have been to have messages sent from the NASA Administrator classified as spam. It has also caused very large volumes of email (hundreds of thousands of non-spam messages) from non-NOMAD servers be delayed for hours on many separate occasions.

Recently, GSFC center director Ed Weiler sent a broadcast message to ALL GSFC employees about a sudden all-hands meeting concerning his move back to NASA HQ. This message was received after the event by most NOMAD integrated staff, while those few not yet migrated into the new system received the email within seconds. Only those staff who were telephoned about the meeting were able to attend.

In effect, this has caused huge numbers of NASA employees and contractors to use gmail or some outside email service as their reliable form of communication. In addition what used to be relatively free is now costs about $25/month/user to fund only 200 Mb of email storage space. A huge step down not counting the reliability issues."

NOMAD - NASA Operational Messaging and Directory Service

NOMAD Status

Comments? Send them to Your comments thus far:

Editor's note: The following is from a NASA Watch reader in regard to the recent GEN Y posting. Personally, I belive that this person's attitude is an example of why many parts of the NASA family are becoming further isolated from the real world - as opposed to becoming more closely aligned to it. My biases aside, this person's comments do represent a viewpoint prevalent at NASA - and that viewpoint needs to be heard. Other reader comments follow. Send yours to

"Keith: Just wanted to provide some feedback to you as a NASAWatch reader and contractor out of Houston regarding the stories about the "Gen-Y" presentation.

Although I did not attend the NGAC at Ames, I was invited and my civil servant "counterpart" did attend. I have read the Gen-Y presentation and reviewed your articles.

Personally, I find the entire "Gen-Y" discussion quite pathetic. This is one of those times where I wish I was *not* part of the group, as I really do not think there was much substance to the presentation. I've seen better presentations in powerpoint from children in middle school. Truly, as someone born in 1980, I wish I was born a little earlier so I could be "Gen-X" rather than Y.

Entrust Partners With Government in 'One NASA' Initiative

"The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has enjoyed a long-standing, successful relationship with Entrust, Inc. . Now, that partnership grows even stronger as NASA deploys Entrust solutions to unify their security strategy across all sites and field offices in support of its "One NASA" and HSPD-12 initiatives."

Editor's note: When I go to, I find that no such website exists. Yet if I go to it exists, but a password is needed to enter. is owned by website development firm named If I use the search engine no URL with "OneNASA" appears in the search results. So, does this "OneNASA" entity actually exist? if so, what does it do?

Editor's update: I guess some folks haven't gotten the message yet: OneNASA is dead. According to this 15 December 2006 Internal memo titled "One NASA - Success and Transition" from Mike Griffin: "With this critical success the One NASA initiative has completed the last major milestone in its intial objectives. Furthermore, the Agency has recognized the value of the One NASA approach and has successfully integrated that approach into its formal organizations. Now, it is time to use the existing institutions more, rather than compensating for them; therefore, One NASA is being discontinued as an official NASA intitiative." Reloaded

NASA Site Seeks to Draw the MySpace Crowd, NY Times

"The site, introduced over the weekend, has new blogs and widgets and more ways for people to view and manipulate content. A MyNASA feature has a "top playlist" that lets people watch clips of the space shuttle Discovery's return to Florida or the California wildfires viewed from orbit."

New Targets Young, Tech-Savvy: So, What Do You Think?, Wired

" got a face lift over the weekend. It went from black text in gray boxes, to glowing blue icons, roll-over sliding windows, and an elegant nebula backdrop. The update, the first major renovation since 2003, is designed to reach out to the 18-25 demographic (that has been the hardest for NASA to engage) and to appeal to the tech-savvy visitor."

Editor's note: So - what do you think of the redesigned Send your comments to Your replies thus far:

Internal NASA memo: New NASA Web Site Design Coming!

"You are invited to preview the redesigned Web site, scheduled to go live Nov. 30. To access the new design, 5.0, visit: More than a graphic facelift, 5.0 will offer users a new level of interactivity: the opportunity to comment on selected agency stories, for example, or to create a personal play list of favorite NASA videos, or to share NASA content with others via social book marking sites such as Digg and ..."

NASA Science Web Federation Workshop

"Of key interest are the plans for the first annual NASA Science Web Federation Workshop November 13th-16th, 2007, at Ames Research Center. The intent is for this workshop to focus on NASA application of web technology. You may want to participate as an observer or share your solution to a particular challenge."

NASA Announces Plan To Bring Wi-Fi To Its Headquarters By 2017, The Onion

"NASA has suffered from a public credibility crisis in recent years due to perceived incompetence, a failed mission to Mars, the damaged and dormant Hubble telescope, and its inability to procure a long enough USB cable to reach all the way over to engineer William Chen's cubicle. But NASA officials argue that a secure high-speed line could prevent disasters such as a 2005 incident in which an employee attempting to download the movie trailer for Cheaper by the Dozen 2 crashed the Mission Control Center mainframe computer for two weeks."

NASA LaRC Internal Memo: CLOSED: Outreach Resource Center

"Effective Sept. 28, 2007, the Outreach Resource Center (ORC) in Bdg. 1213, Rm. 139, was permanently closed. Due to budget constraints, the ORC is no longer available for walk-in customers or requests for hard-copy public information materials."

NASA Langley to Open to Public for One Day

"Come see some of NASA Langley's latest breakthroughs for yourself Saturday, October 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Help stimulate your child's imagination with a look at real-life space-age discoveries that may one day be part of everyday life. Enjoy a rare opportunity to step back in time and view where astronauts learned to land on the moon."

Editor's note: This sends a confusing message. On one hand LaRC opens itself up to the public - on the other hand it closes itself off from them.

NASA Internal memo: Updated Guidance on NASA Messaging

"This memorandum supersedes my August 1, 2007, memorandum to OICs and Center Directors. Its purpose is to clarify intent and provide guidance on how this messaging material might be used to the best advantage of the Agency.

First, the original guidance was intended to provide some consistency on how we talk about NASA's work with the public. It is not a mandate and should not have been prescriptive.

Second, the Core Message (NASA explores for answers that power our future) is not a slogan or tag line. You are not required to use it, but feel free to include it if you deem it appropriate and helpful for your communications needs.

Third, the Graphic Element (Inspiration+Innovation+Discovery=Future) is a formula for those key themes that illustrate and enhance the Core Message. It should NOT be used as a graphic in Agency materials; however, the three themes can serve as a guide for Agency messaging.

Internal NASA Memo from Robert Hopkins, Chief, Office of Strategic Communications: NASA Messages, earlier post from 1 August 2007

Outsourcing Desktop Initiative for NASA (ODIN) Mission Focus Review (MFR) Decisions, NASA Ames Office of the Chief Information Officer (840K PDF)

"The agency Strategic Management Council (SMC) has approved two Mission Focus Reviews (MFR)s related to ODIN. The SMC decision includes:
- MFR#7 - Consolidate all cellular services (pagers, cell phones, smartphones/PDAs, and cellular Internet) under ODIN
- MFR#137 - Consolidate all laptop/desktop/workstation procurement and support under ODIN"

Next NASA mission: Twitter and Facebook, CNet

"NASA astronauts "twittering" from the moon? It's not such a far-fetched idea, considering the space agency's current push to partner with Web 2.0 companies like Twitter and save itself from turning into a dinosaur in the Internet age. Some executives at the struggling NASA believe that if the agency can adopt Web technologies like Twitter--a social network for broadcasting thoughts online or via text message--then kids and the general public will be more connected to space exploration and inspired to learn about science."

NASA Deputy Administrator's Blog Jun 25, 2007

"I was in Colorado and Arizona on June 17-20. I will write more about my meetings there in my next entry. I have been traveling quite a bit in the past few months and there is no sense that it will slow down any time soon. I think these trips are necessary, talking to people outside the beltway to see what their thoughts are about NASA and exploration. But the main purpose has been to focus on fiscal year (FY) 2008 appropriations for NASA."

NASA Deputy Administrator's Blog Jun 15, 2007 - Shana Dale

"I am looking for a more direct way to communicate with people inside the agency. There is so much that goes on at headquarters and I want to be able to pull the curtain back on at least some of it and also explain what is going on with new initiatives. I anticipate updating the blog every week - I know, not as routine as many but it's hard even to find time to eat lunch."

Today's Ask the Administrator Answer, previous post

[Mike Griffin] "Finally, no, I do not read NASAWatch, or any other blog."

Editor's note: Gee Mike, you won't even read your own Deputy's blog?

GAO: Policies Guiding the Dissemination of Scientific Research from Selected Agencies Should Be Clarified and Better Communicated

"According to OSTP, it does not conduct scientific research on its own nor does it formulate or directly oversee the development of dissemination policies or decisions at individual agencies. However, OSTP has publicly affirmed the value of science as a basis for federal action and recognizes the importance of timely, complete, and accurate communication of scientific information. The OSTP Director has on several occasions asked the leaders and chief scientists of federal agencies to develop, revise, or reemphasize their dissemination policies and to ensure that agency employees and managers understand their rights and obligations under these policies. The director has cited NASA's media policy as a model for other agencies to consider in developing their own dissemination policies."

Editor's note: Once again, it seems that NASA HQ and JSC PAO just cannot agree on whose version of a routine ISS status report gets released. Solution: they release both. Why the fuss? Well, JPL PAO complains that it cannot afford to give their employees cell phones with email capability (most kids walking home from Junior High have that) and other PAO organizations complain about looming budget cuts to other vital functions. Yet instead of trying to make their organization more efficient, PAO manages to find ways to make it less efficient. The following two versions of the 18 May 2007 ISS status report were issued within minutes of each other. The first one went out from JSC at 4:09:21 PM EDT. The NASA HQ version went out at 4:56:10 PM EDT.

Editor's note: I just learned that JPL PAO media reps do not have the ability to get email 24/7. According to a JPL PAO source, JPL simply "does not have the money to provide Blackberry's to their staff". First of all, please tell me just how much that would cost for the PR employees of an arm of NASA (albeit a contractor), all of whom use email addresses, whose parent organization manages a substantial portion of NASA's space missions. What happens if news breaks (and it does) after business hours? Secondly: Earth to JPL: it is now possible to get email on Treos and handheld devices other than Blackberry's - even really cheap phones. Call Rent-A-Geek and they will set it up for you. Thirdly: for an entity whose amazing people can reach across billions of miles to reprogram 30 year old spacecraft now travelling outside our solar system, this has just got to be plain embarassing. You guys want to help build the Interplanetary Internet - and your PAO staff shuts off email after hours?

Reader note: "Please do not post my name or email address, as JPL still shoots messengers. The JPL PAO excuse does not ring true. Virtually all JPL managers have, or have access to either Blackberries or Treos. The Treos seem to be more prevalent. Probably due to pricing. FWIW, almost everyone on my team has a Treo, and we are just worker bees. Also FWIW, it's inconvenient as hell to have a cell phone with a built in camera when you frequent places where cameras aren't allowed."

Reader note (a veteran space journalist): "Some PAO at several NASA centers have the addictive blackberries. I'd say JPL PAO doesn't want them. They are, by far, rank lowest in returning phone calls and setting up interviews of any PAO shop I've dealt with across NASA or DOD or even private industry. NASA HQ comes in second, but I believe JPL PAO people think if they just ignore it, then it will go away. So, if they are "reachable" 24/7 (or more than they are now) then it will probably just go away."

Editor's note: Have a look at the Winds website at NASA JPL. In the lower center of the page there is a link to "Lampson Concerned About Survival Of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite". Apparently (and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here) the webmaster was unaware that his not an original "article", but rather, it is a press release from Rep. Lampson's office - someone who has been critical of the Bush Administration's space policies. If you go to this link there is nothing to note that it is indeed a press release, rather, it says what it was written by "staff writers". The full press release - labeled as such - can be found here at Lampson's office has not put the press release online yet. I have asked JPL PAO and the responsible officials for this website what their policy is with regard to linking to external news sources and political press releases, but they have not responded. Indeed, they have updated this page since I initially sent my request. One would think that NASA's Office of Legislative Affairs would have some say in matters such as this.

Editor's update: The website has been modified and JPL PAO says that indeed they were not aware that they were linking to a press release. Yet, the phrase "Lampson Concerned About Survival Of Vital Hurricane Tracking Satellite" now points to this LA Times article - one that makes no mention whatsoever of Rep. Lampson (D- TX) but mentions the comments of Ron Klein (D-FL) instead.

Editor's further update: The link is now gone altogether.

NASA Strategic Management Council Meeting: Strategic Communication Framework

"Members discussed the need to know what audiences feel about NASA's relevance to their lives. Ames Center Director Pete Worden suggested that to communicate with younger audiences, the Agency needs to better use the internet and new communications technologies. Chief of Strategic Communications Sterner told members about plans to form cells in the mission directorates that will be responsible to incorporate Agency messages into the communications efforts undertaken as part of mission activities. The goal is to "get everybody on the same page." Sterner encouraged leaders to talk to their staff members who have responsibility for communications."

British Hacker Gary McKinnon Cries Guantnamo Too Much, Wired

"In interviews, McKinnon has admitted the hacking spree (though not the damage), which he says was a search for evidence of a military UFO cover-up. McKinnon, his lawyers and fans have portrayed him as a victim of overreaching U.S. prosecutors. They've all but claimed he's going to wind up with a pointy hood over his head."

Hacker faces US justice after extradition appeal fails, Guardian

"Gary McKinnon, 41, yesterday lost his appeal against extradition to stand trial in the US on charges connected with hacking into the Pentagon and Nasa systems. He is accused of stealing computer files, intentionally causing damage to a protected computer, obtaining secrets which might have been "useful to an enemy" and interfering with maritime navigation equipment. He was initially arrested in 2002."

Free Gary McKinnon, UK website for those who think this is so unfair and that this guy is heading for Guantanamo Bay.

Editor's note: Silly Brits: everyone here knows that we send UFO exposers to Area 51 where memory sucking devices reverse engineered from alien technology reformat people's brains.

NASA is shirking its educational duties, union says, Government Executive

"But Keith Cowing, editor of and a former NASA scientist, said cuts have prevented the agency from fulfilling its innovative outreach goals. "Everybody expects every agency to be hip and with it," but that takes time and money, he said. "The real problem is when they try" to meet these expectations, "Congress cuts their budget." "To their credit, [some officials] are actually getting hip to this," Cowing said. He pointed to NASA's Ames Center, where the agency is sharing computer scientists and office space with Silicon Valley neighbor Google."

NASA Budgets $3m to Develop MMO and More,

"NASA, the U.S. space agency, is getting ready to launch its own exploration into virtual space. NASAs Learning Technologies arm has issued an intramural call for proposal ideas [UPDATE: now postponed, oddly] for the development of a massively multiplayer online game that is intended to be the front-end of a larger synthetic environment."

Editor's note: NASA has turned off all of its KSC webcams again. This is odd since you'd think that people would like to see damaage (or lack thereof) happens - in real time. Webservers and webcams normally run fine with little adjustment - so why not just leave them running?. Of course NASA could also look into installing some remote satellite webcams too. Again, they are not that difficult to set up and cost perhaps less than $10K per camera. Not much to spend when billions of dollars of assets are involved.

Indeed, these two webcams [1, 2] operate autonomously on Devon Island less than 800 miles from the north pole - and conditions there can get rather nasty - for months at a time. Its odd that NASA hasn't set anything like this up. It sure ain't rocket science.

What is even stranger is the fact that KSC's website has been shut down too. Now this is odd. Indeed, it is just plain dumb as well as unimaginative. I guess the notion of offsite hosting or mirror sites (on webservers outside of Florida) has never occurred to anyone at KSC. There are people at NASA who could keep an eye on things for a few days. So much for being able to post updates that KSC people who still have power - or have cellphones - can read. I have to wonder sometimes if NASA hires IT personnel who have ever worked in the real world. You'd think after all of these hurricanes someone might have learned a few lessons.

Editor's 30 Aug 9:00 am EDT note: KSC's website is (apparently) operational again - but the webcams are not.

Reader note: "Regarding webcams being turned off... My daughter is a senior at Florida Institute of Technology (Florida Tech) down the road in Melbourne. Their webcam is running as normal. Maybe KSC needs some FIT students to show them how to do it?"

Editor's note: Some Cocoa Beach area webcams (still online) which apparently use more advanced technology than NASA has:

  • Cocoa Beach Wecam, (free streaming image times out after 30 sec), Surfline
  • Webcam (Cape Canaveral), Two Palms
  • Cocoa Beach, MMD Factory
  • Cape Canaveral webcam, WESH TV
  • NASA Names McManus Acting Chief Information Officer

    "In his new position, McManus will ensure that the agency's information resource management strategy is in alignment with NASA's vision, mission and strategic goals. In addition, he will focus on the development of integrated information resource management strategies, including standards, policies, the NASA Enterprise Architecture, IT security, management and operations."

    Editor's note: Gee, I wonder if HQ will give McManus control over Field Center CIO budgets such that he can fix things once and for all?

    Editor's note: Go to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight home page. Do you see links to the VSE, ESMD or anything connected to NASA's exploration efforts on that main entry point? Go the news page and you will see a similar lack of information on exploration. Now go to NASA's Exploration home page. There are no links to NASA SOMD's Human Spaceflight page - yet SOMD and ESMD are supposed to be working together to transition from current to future space systems. Oh yes - I don't see any links between ESMD's page and SMD's home page either - yet they are supposed to be developing hardware and science hand in hand. Indeed ESMD has created their own versions of pages that SOMD's website already has online.

    I find this continued stove piping and duplication of effort in terms of education and outreach, web design, etc. to be rather odd. Yet Mike Griffin tells everyone that exploration is what NASA is about and that SOMD, ESMD, and SMD are one big happy family. Alas, they can't even bother to link to each other's home pages. What does this say about how they really get along? This is just silly folks.

    NASA ARC Internal Memo: Message from the Director - Ames Creates a New Blog

    "I am pleased to announce that the Office of the Center Director has created a blog. The purpose is to have a new and (we hope) effective tool for communication at the Center. The Deputy Director, the Associate Director for Institutions and Research, and I will use the blog to periodically convey information and to share important developments affecting the Center with you all. The "Ask the Director" link will also be available via this site."

    Editor's note: What a fascinating idea ....


    NASA's chief information officer and chief of Strategic Communications have outlined new policy governing all NASA public Web sites. This policy directs all NASA officials who are planning to publish new Web sites or create public content to host these sites and create and maintain their content within the NASA Portal infrastructure.

    NASA Email Policy Update

    NASA bungles e-mail policy, Federal Computing Week

    "NASA officials said the original e-mail's wording gave the wrong impression. "Unfortunately, we should have explicitly said that, by all means, people should continue to answer e-mails within their areas of expertise, but we did not," Dunbar said. "It was never anyone's intention to muzzle anybody or restrict information from going out to the public."

    Editor's note: It has been nearly a month. Has NASA clarified this issue - by memo - to all of its employees? No.

    NASA Management Seeks to Muzzle Its Employees, NASA Watch

    Editor's note: Why doesn't this page, this page, this page, or this page at NASA's Human Spaceflight website (run by JSC) link to this page (run by NASA MSFC) - all of which have to do with the ISS and tracking its current location?

    NASA Web Paranoia

    Editor's note: After nearly a decade of being available online, NASA HQ's web paranoia has led to NASA Heads-up being restricted to NASA employee viewing only. Alas, we will no longer be able to know about blood drives, costume parties, and employee picnics any more. Here's an example of what was once available. This is really silly and echoes the way things were done in the Goldin era.

    Editor's update: I have sent Griffin's new strategic communications guru, Joe Davis, a request for an explanation for this action. No reply received - yet.

    NASA Web Portal Project Information

    "+Official NASA Public Portal Affinity Kit - Comprehensive and authoritative guide for creating sites that have affinity with the NASA Public Portal.
    +NASA Public Portal Integration Plan - The proposed plan for integrating various NASA web sites with the Public Portal."

    Blackberrys to the Rescue

    8 September 2004: NASA prepares BlackBerry backup, FCW

    "With Florida facing the possibility of its third hurricane in a month, NASA is putting together a backup plan for its message system based on Research in Motion Ltd. BlackBerry devices. They are working on a workaround system for BlackBerry service," Melissa Mathews said. "It's like [instant messaging] but doesn't involve networks."

    Editor's note: Excellent! At least someone at NASA knows how to use state of the art, well-established, real-world solutions - and to do so quickly, and without a lot of paperwork.

    7 September 2004: Cape Canaveral: KSC employees told to report to work Monday unless otherwise contacted, Florida Today

    "The Process Control Center had severe water damage after losing part of its roof. It's the hub of the e-mail and Web system for the shuttle launch complex, but because the computers were covered with plastic, the damage assessors think they probably were protected, KSC Director Jim Kennedy said."

    Editor's note: Housing a webserver, email server - or any vital computer network hub in such a fragile location "covered with plastic" is just nuts. The fact that this facility is a few miles from the ocean, a few feet above sea level in a state prone to tropical storms and hurricanes makes me wonder just what the KSC folks were thinking - especially in a post 9/11 world.

    I certainly hope NASA is going to catch up with the rest of the world and have secure, offsite mirror web facilities - such as those commonly used in the private sector. These armored, windowless facilities have uninterruptible back-up power, as well as server and connectivity redundancy. Fortunately, I understand that this storm has led to some definitive movement to fix this situation as NASA continues to develop its new web portal infrastructure.



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