Monday, February 13

Slashing science at NASA

People are beginning to absorb the consequences of the deep cuts in space science outlined in the new budget unveiled last monday and which NASA chief Mike Griffin defended before Congress last Thursday. In a nutshell, about $3.7 billion of science gets cut out or deffered indefinitely. Among the really important programs that are now in question are the Terrestrial Planet Finder, an important new space telescope aimed at studying nearby planetary systems, and the Sofia airborne infrared telescope, nearing completion now, and plans for a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, with its frozen-over ocean, and the planned outrigger telescopes to allow the Keck Observatory to fulfill its high-resolution potential as an interferometer.
Sure, hard choices are going to need to be made. But it looks like some serious science is going to be closed down in favor of paying the escalating costs of a space shuttle that's going to be retired anyway, and a space station that's never really going to be finished.


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