NASA PR: um, say what?

NASA PR: um, say what?

NASA PR: um, say what?

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
June 6 2006 10:37 PM

NASA PR: um, say what?

The Cleveland Ohio "The Plain Dealer" has a good article recently outlining the body blows to science dealt out by NASA over the past few months. It's a scary list, one I have seen many times, and I'm glad -- such as I can be -- that it's getting air time.

The article really starts off hard, talking about the cuts, and not painting a flattering picture of what's going on at NASA. Right on the first page is a quotation from NASA's press secretary, and it's... well, read it:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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The space agency insists its support for science remains strong. "With the growth in science over the last 15 years to almost 33 percent of NASA's budget, we feel good about the robustness of the program going forward," press secretary Dean Acosta said.

"Robustness"? NuSTAR cut (two weeks from its final proposal review), Dawn cut, then reinstated, Constellation-X gutted, LISA gutted, Astrobiology facing 75% cuts in two years, the wildly successful Explorer program in jeopardy, two Mars probes cut... the list goes on. If Mr. Acosta feels good about this, then I really, really hope nothing happens that makes him feel bad.

I'd love to get the context for that quotation, just to be fair. But it's hard to imagine just what context it was in. Maybe it was from two years ago.

I'll reiterate, as I've done before, that NASA is in a very hard place with the budget. I wouldn't want to be in the position of having my budget cut and deciding what to keep and what to lose. But let's face facts: science programs are being eviscerated, and scientists are extremely antsy about their careers (I know of one who may leave the field entirely, or may go to another country to find a stable job).

I wonder how all those scientists would feel, reading that quotation above? As a scientist myself, and one who was involved with NuSTAR, I know how I feel. I'm pretty upset.

However, later today I'll post about what one person is trying to do about this-- and he's in a position to have some influence over Congress.