Science and the exploration plan

The New York Times published an article Tuesday about concerns some scientists have about the new exploration initiative. While a lot of attention has been given to NASA’s decision to cancel the final shuttle Hubble servicing mission—not directly related to the initiative—the plan also calls for cutting some space and earth science budgets, including deferring some missions in the Beyond Einstein program that was unveiled just last year. That program includes an effort to look for evidence of dark matter, a goal that a panel that included representatives from NASA concluded was of the highest priority. One thing the article doesn’t point out, though, is that all the attention given to Hubble may be hurting these programs: with everyone focused on trying to either restore the servicing mission or find other alternatives, the hurdles these other programs face have been largely ignored. Indeed, one can imagine that if NASA does find a way to robotically service Hubble, some of the money to pay for that effort could come out of the space science program, further hurting some of these missions.

1 comment to Science and the exploration plan

  • Dwayne A. Day

    I was a little surprised to see this article. I have been told that the astronomy community is quite concerned, but has been keeping quiet for the time being, hoping that they can regain their money without a public spat. Much of their concern is about a mission called Constellation-X. I don’t know much about it, but it is apparently listed as the highest priority in the community’s decadal survey.

    One really interesting part of this article was that it outlined just how the scientific community turns its priorities into programs. That usually doesn’t get much attention in the press.