NASA officially announced this morning that Alan Stern, the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, was resigning. He will be replaced on an intermin basis, at least, by Ed Weiler, the director of NASA Goddard. Stern will leave in “a few weeks”, Stern announced in an email memo cited by Space News/SPACE.com.
“While I deeply regret his decision to leave NASA, I understand his reasons for doing so,” administrator Mike Griffin said in the official statement. However, the statement doesn’t explain what those reasons are. There has been speculation (based on some emails and phone calls I received this morning) that this is linked to the recent kerfuffle over a plan, since overruled, to cut the Mars Exploration Rovers program budget. The timing, at the very least, is suspect, but it could also be a coincidence.