"Updated Dec. 28, 2007 -- Astronomers have identified asteroid 2007 WD 5 in archival imagery. With these new observations, scientists at NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif have refined their trajectory estimates for the asteroid. Based on this latest analysis, the odds for the asteroid impacting Mars on Jan. 30 are now 1-in-25 -- or about 4 percent."
Space & Planetary Science: December 2007 Archives
"Alan Stern, Associate Administrator for Science Mission Directorate (SMD), has initiated an effort to simplify NASA Announcements of Opportunity (AOs). AOs are issued by NASA to solicit proposals for complete PI-led missions (like Explorer, Discovery, Mars Scout, etc.), for smaller PI-led missions of opportunity, and for instruments for NASA's strategic missions (like recent AOs for RBSP, MMS, MSL, JWST, etc.). This AO simplification effort is being led by Paul Hertz, Senior Advisor in SMD at NASA Headquarters responsible for the AO process, and Brad Perry, Head of the Science Support Office at NASA Langley research center and responsible for the technical/ management/ cost (TMC) review process."
"NASA will wait two years longer than planned and spend another $40 million to launch a half-billion-dollar probe to Mars because of an unspecified conflict of interest in the purchasing process, officials said Friday."
"NASA announced today that the next mission in the Mars Scout program, originally planned for launch in 2011, is now targeted for launch in 2013."
NASA announces delay of Mars Scout launch until 2013, Planetary Society
"Since I was not at all sure what to make of this, I had to call my boss, Executive Director Lou Friedman, and find out what he thought. He said he didn't have a full understanding yet of what was behind the decision but he deplored, he said, the flouting of Congressional will that had just been expressed on Tuesday; Congress expressed to NASA that Mars missions should be launched at every opportunity. And to wait to make the announcment until after Congress went home for the holidays -- that seems designed to try to make the announcement fly under the radar. He also seemed a bit disgusted that the delay should be for such a bureaucratic reason. I'm sure you'll be hearing more from him on this once we all have a better idea what happened."
Editor's 21 Dec note: Atta boy Lou - read, fire, aim. You might want to do a little research before you go into armwaving conspiracy mode on your organization's website. I sincerely doubt that a little cabal of NASA HQ folks had this all planned - just as you hypothesize - such that they could deliberately "flout" Congress - and do so when Congress was home for the holidays - oh yes, with no one noticing. Get a grip, Lou.
"NASA will hold a media teleconference at 11 a.m. EST, on Friday, Dec. 21, to make an announcement about the schedule for evaluating its Mars Scout program."
Asteroid on track for possible Mars hit, LA Times
"An asteroid similar to the one that flattened forests in Siberia in 1908 could plow into Mars next month, scientists said today. Researchers attached to NASA's Near-Earth Objects Program, who sometimes jokingly call themselves the Solar System Defense Team, have been tracking the asteroid since its discovery in late November. The scientists, based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Caada Flintridge, put the chances that it will hit the Red Planet on Jan. 30 at about 1 in 75."
Editor's note: Oddly enough, there is no mention of this potentially excting event on NASA JPL's Near Earth Object Program website or on JPL's news page. Nor is there any mention at NASA HQ's SMD page.
Editor's update: Someone just sent me this link that they found at JPL showing the orbit of asteroid 2007 WD5.
"This first collection of 10 coins focuses on the eight planets in our solar system. This commemorative coin collection includes an extremely rare Pluto coin, the last Pluto-Hubble coin approved by NASA before the planet was decommissioned in 2006."
"In preparing for the evaluation of Mars Scout Concept Study Reports for the final selection, NASA identified an organizational conflict of interest. NASA determined action had to be taken to resolve the conflict in order to maintain a fair competition."