June 10, 2005AGU to United States: Don't sacrifice future of Earth and space science
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) has released a statement calling on the United States government and NASA to renew their dedication to Earth and space science programs. The declaration criticizes drastic 2006 budget cuts that will force NASA to do more with fewer resources.
The statement claims shifting financial responsibilities away from NASA programs will obstruct the effectiveness and potential of these programs and ultimately hamper the United States' role as a leader in Earth and space sciences.
The AGU cites cancelled and postponed Earth System Pathfinder missions and Explorer-class satellites as examples of budget sacrifices hurting space science. The AGU believes "these losses will degrade our weather forecasting, search and rescue, and life and property protection capabilities. They affect our ability to understand natural hazards, map changes in Earth's surface, forecast space weather, understand Earth-Sun connections, and explore the solar system."
The AGU is an international science community that promotes understanding of and research in Earth and space science. To read the full statement, click here
. Jeremy McGovernJames Webb Space Telescope under attack
According to The Baltimore Sun
, the future of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is in jeopardy. With costs that eventually may reach more than 28 percent over its $3.5 billion budget, JWST could be scaled back or not launched at all.
Unexpected expenses and instrument changes have inflated the cost of the space telescope. Adding to the woes are disputes over how JWST will be launched and new rigid accounting practices.
NASA inquired if decreasing Webb's mirror size and onboard instruments could lessen costs. Project scientists believe any reduction in JWST's ability will dramatically decrease the telescope's usefulness. Many fear the space telescope's increasing roadblocks may lead to the entire mission's cancellation.
Combined with the impending death of the Hubble Space Telescope, a scrapped JWST would translate into job loss for hundreds of scientists and engineers at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.
Originally called the Next Generation Space Telescope, JWST naturally has been viewed by the public as Hubble's successor. But that idea is misleading JWST has more in common with the current Spitzer Space Telescope. Spitzer observes the universe in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just as JWST will. The Webb telescope will cover the wavelength region from 0.6 to 28 micrometers, or from the red end of the visible spectrum well out into the infrared. It will be optimized for observations in the 1 to 5 micrometer range. Jeremy McGovern