Space & Planetary Science: April 2013 Archives

Rep. Schiff and Senator Feinstein Call on NASA to Not Gut Planetary Science

"Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden calling on him to keep any operating plan for the fiscal year consistent with the funding levels and allocations directed to it by Congress earlier this year. There have been reports that the FY 2013 NASA Operating Plan will slash funding from the Planetary Science programs. Schiff and Feinstein were joined by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Culberson (R-TX) in sending the letter today."

Kepler-62 Has Two Water Worlds Circling in its Habitable Zone

"In our solar system, only one planet is blessed with an ocean: Earth. Our home world is a rare, blue jewel compared to the deserts of Mercury, Venus and Mars. But what if our Sun had not one but two habitable ocean worlds? Astronomers have found such a planetary system orbiting the star Kepler-62."

New Earth-like Planets Found, CIW

"Theoretical modeling of the super-Earth planets, Kepler-62e and Kepler-62f, suggests that both could be solid, either rocky--or rocky with frozen water."

NASA's Kepler Discovers Smallest 'Habitable Zone' Planets to Date, NASA

"The Kepler-62 system has five planets; 62b, 62c, 62d, 62e and 62f. The Kepler-69 system has two planets; 69b and 69c. Kepler-62e, 62f and 69c are the super-Earth-size planets."

GAO Report: NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects

"The performance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) portfolio of major projects has improved in the areas of cost and schedule growth since GAO's first assessment in 2009. Average development cost growth and schedule delay for the current portfolio have decreased to about a third of their 2009 levels. These figures exclude the cost and schedule growth of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA's most expensive science project, in part because of its disproportionate effect on the portfolio average. Including the JWST in the calculation would increase the 2013 portfolio's average development cost growth from 3.9 percent to 46.4 percent and would double the average launch delay, from 4 to 8 months and obscure the progress the rest of the portfolio has made toward maintaining cost and schedule baselines."

NASA Hosts Media Briefing to Discuss Kepler Planetary Discovery

"NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, April 18, to announce new discoveries from the agency's Kepler mission. The briefing will be held in the Syvertson Auditorium, Building N-201, at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency's website."

Keith's note: Not that this has any indiciation of what will be announced but Lisa Kaltenegger's Kepler-related publications all focus on small, habitable extrasolar planets and moons. (search). Thomas Barclay's papers also focus on Kepler and extrasolar planets. (search). These papers (by other authors) "The detectability of habitable exomoons with Kepler" and "Where to Find Habitable "Earths" in Circumbinary Systems" were submitted to astro-ph last week.

Editorial: Who Is Minding Planetary Research?, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"The Administration and both houses of Congress openly support the planetary research programs, as demonstrated by proposed and appropriated budgets. It is PSD management that undermines their intent. Stop treating planetary research as a slush fund."

Tell Congress To Support Planetary Exploration at NASA, Planetary Society

"The White House has doubled down on its efforts to cut Planetary Science at NASA. It's proposing a cut of over $200 million, despite the fact that Congress rejected a similar cut for last year. This will prevent any mission to Europa. It delays for years efforts to send small spacecraft throughout the solar system, and will have long-lasting repercussions on the scientific and engineering community. We know Congress supports planetary exploration, but they need to hear from you."

NASA's Planetary Doublespeak, Planetary Society

"NASA went on an unusual tweet-binge praising planetary science today, saying that the struggling division "thrives" and highlighting various missions mainly developed in better times. NASA made five tweets in a row about planetary science over the course of two hours. Maybe NASA feels bad for its Planetary Science Division after the release of the 2014 Budget proposal? The budget doubles down on cuts to Planetary Science, crippling the future of the program. The proposed amount, $1,217.5 million, is about $200 million less than Congress approved the previous year."

Asteroids and Budgets

NASA Budget Priority: Asteroid Defense, Wall Street Journal

"Once again, NASA likely faces a stiff fight over its desire to ramp up funding to $820 million annually to help subsidize work on private taxis to transport astronauts to the orbiting space station. Congress has kept a lid on such appropriations at around $500 million. While seeking to increase investment in cutting-edge spacecraft propulsion and on-orbit refueling, NASA would lose nearly one-third of its current funding to foster interest and education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The proposed cuts are part of a governmentwide bid by the White House to consolidate so-called STEM education in three other agencies."

NASA mulls asteroid capture mission, eventual manned visits, CBS

"I hope it goes forward," said Rusty Schweickart, a former Apollo astronaut who helped found the B612 Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to building and launching a privately funded space telescope to search for threatening asteroids. "Asteroids are a very, very interesting area," he told CBS News in a telephone interview. "They're a hell of a resource, and I think the potential for long-term resource development for use in space is going to be a very big thing. And this is sort of step one. It's a baby step in a way, but it should be very interesting."

Keith's note: This is how the Twitter account @Camilla_SDO describes itself: "I am Camilla SDO, NASA SDO's Mission Mascot. I help with Education & Public Outreach and I train to fly to Space." This twitter account is actualy run by Romeo Durscher, a financial management analyst at Stanford. @Camilla_SDO recently tweeted "@JeriLRyan Have my 1st red carpet event this month. Had a small role in Space Warriors with Josh Lucas. So excited. I'll stick to being me!"

I simply do not understand. First NASA cuts EPO across the agency to meet sequester constraints. Now the FY 2014 budget totally guts EPO at SMD - essentially setting it to $0.00. NASA cuts important education and public outreach projects conducted by education professionals - yet the agency still officially supports and encourages a rubber chicken mascot with a NASA logo to travel to a Hollywood premiere - with a financial analyst? Apparently the rubber chicken and its handler/analyst have a special waiver.

NASA Lunar Science Forum 2013 Will be a VIRTUAL Conference With NO "In-Person" Component This Year

"Due to the recent government restrictions on travel, The NASA Lunar Science Institute will broadcast the annual NASA Lunar Science Forum (LSF) as a virtual conference the week of July 15-19, 2013. The conference will be broadcast between the hours of 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. PDT, Monday-Friday, to accommodate a wide spread in time zones. Presentations will be delivered using a combination of Adobe Connect and a telecom line for participation. Adobe Connect can host 500 combined domestic and international logins to the presentations. Any number of individuals can gather at their home institutions and connect as a group, but the total number of individual connections cannot exceed 500."


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