Space & Planetary Science: April 2008 Archives

Q&A With John H. Marburger, Chronicle of Higher Education

"The NASA budget -- people may complain about it, but it's still grown. It's still a very substantial fraction of everything else. The administration's been trying to repair the imbalance between life science and physical science, which is a problem."

Editor's note: That's hilarious - given that the current problem with life sciences was actually caused by by the Bush Administration in the first place. Didn't they brief Marburger on this?

NLSI Open For Business

New NASA lunar institute opens its doors, New Scientist

"NASA plans to select the first four research sites towards the end of this year. Each one will be funded to the tune of $1 to $2 million annually, and together they will employ about 50 scientists. As NASA's lunar budget grows in the build-up to a human flight to the moon by 2020, the institute will grow to include more collaborating sites, including sites in other countries. "I would anticipate that within a few years we may have five or six nodes abroad," said Worden."

Troubles parallel ambitions in NASA Mars project, USA Today

"They aimed high, and they got burned," says Arizona State University's Phil Christensen, a Mars scientist who helped review NASA's Mars program. To make up for Mars Lab's ballooning cost, $1.2 billion, NASA has had to raid the coffers of other science projects. ... Despite the missteps, Edward Weiler, the acting head of NASA's science division, says he'll do what it takes to fund the rover. Many NASA science projects will have take a small hit to pay for the overruns. "I'm trying to spread the pain," Weiler says. "Everything is fair game."

Editor's note: Ah, how quickly NASA slides back to the old way of doing things - one big project bursts through its cost cap and everyone else has to pay for it. Where is the incentive to stay within cost caps if you know that NASA will always pay your overrun and take it out of everyone else's hide - especially if you are a big center with lobbyists prowling around Congress? Indeed, doesn't this incentivize other projects to build in some margin in their proposals (thus increasing costs) as insurance ? Why "spread the pain", Ed? Why not focus the "pain" on the source of the overrun?

NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE Sees Phobos in Color and Stereo

"The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, run from The University of Arizona, has produced a new color stereo view of Phobos, the larger and inner of Mars' two tiny moons. The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter took two images of Phobos 10 minutes apart on March 23. Scientists combined the images for a stereo view. "Phobos is of great interest because it may be rich in water ice and carbon-rich materials," professor Alfred McEwen of the UA's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, and HiRISE principal investigator, said."

News From Mars

Opportunity Update: Sols 1492-1494, Martian Chronicles

"Opportunity is still making her laborious way over to Cape Verde. This weekend we had a drive planned, but the wheels slipped too much in the loose sand that we're driving on, so just to be safe, the drive was cut short. The good news is that this week Opportunity will be driving every day, so we should make better time. More good news is that we got some pretty pictures down over the weekend. First and foremost, the full-res frames of the false color mosaic of Cape Verde finally came down. Check it out (click for full-res) ..."

A Farewell Message from Alan Stern

"As you probably know by now, I have announced my resignation as NASA's Associate Administrator for SMD and will be departing at the end of this week. Dr. Ed Weiler will assume this post on Monday April 7. I assure you that my decision to resign came only after several months of hard thought and reflection about the consequences of spiraling mission costs that SMD could not control. In the end, this became an important matter of principle that trumped even my boss, NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's desire for me to stay and my regard for him."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from April 2008.

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