NASA science still under fire

Contributed by
Mar 15, 2006

... and scientists are firing back.

The huge cuts to NASA science were a hot topic at the Lunar and Planetary Science meeting I just attended. Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator for Science at NASA, gave a talk at the meeting. Unfortunately, I had to leave ten minutes in to catch my flight, but others are talking about it:

Basically, the scientists were good and truly ticked off, as well they might be. Two quick quotes:

Europeans are very upset that NASA missions with European partners were canceled without consultation with those partners. From the Astronomy magazine article:

Cleave said NASA would begin a series of talks with international partners, to which [European scientist] Neukum [an American scientist who works with Europeans] * replied, "One would hope there's going to be some listening in there, too."

But my favorite is

"I don't understand why you're so angry," said Cleave.

... which I think is a major part of the problem.

I have quite a few thoughts about this as well, as you might imagine. I find myself agreeing for the most part with the scientists quoted in those many articles. I am still gathering my thoughts for the moment, but I'll be writing them soon. In the meantime, I still have to think that asking NASA to go to the Moon, finish the space station, and still do world class science, all without substantially raising the budget, is a grossly unreasonable request by the Bush Administration.

The solution is obvious: give NASA more money. It is the smallest government agency, with the smallest budget, and even though the missions sound expensive, they are a drop in the bucket of the government's spending. But things are generally not this simple, and that's why my thoughts are still being gathered.

* Emily Lakdawalla, who attended the talk, notes in the comments that Astronomy magazine had the quotation attribution wrong. Tip o' the space helmet to Ms. Lakdawalla for that.

Make Your Inbox Important

Get our newsletter and you’ll be delivered the most interesting stories, videos and interviews weekly.

Sign-up breaker
Sign out: