Friday, 19 September 97 Washington, DC
1. MIR: HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR DEMANDS REEVALUATION.
Tuesday, with the computer out and the crew again huddled in the
Soyuz escape capsule while a military satellite shot by, NASA
issued a glowing press release citing the "significant
accomplishments of Shuttle-Mir research." Busy scientists may
have failed to note the impact on their field. My favorite is
"more precise characterization of human psychology in space."
The release delicately refrained from details. Thursday, the
Shuttle-Mir program director told the Science Committee that Mir
is in fine shape, with astronaut David Wolf set to replace
Michael Foale next week. "Does someone have to get killed?" asked
an incredulous James Sensenbrenner (R-MI). The hearing focused on
a report by NASA's Inspector General on Mir safety requested by
Sensenbrenner and ranking minority member George Brown (D-CA)
(WN 12 Sep 97).
After the hearing, Sensenbrenner called on NASA
Administrator Dan Goldin to reevaluate the decision to leave Wolf
on the accident-prone Mir.
2. MARS: GLOBAL SURVEYOR DISCOVERS A WEAK MAGNETIC FIELD.
newest member of the Mars robot team made the major scientific
discovery in its first week in Mars orbit. It's much too weak to
offer protection from radiation, but it might be a remnant of a
stronger field that could have protected early life.
3. SENATOR DOMENICI TO HOLD HEARINGS ON THE TEST BAN TREATY.
President Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
a year ago. The next step was to request ratification by the
Senate. The White House never asked. Ratification takes 67
votes, and no key Republican emerged as a champion. The hang up
may have less to do with the merits of CTBT than with where the
Science Based Stockpile Stewardship budget gets spent. Pete
Domenici (R-NM), Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee
chair, announced on Monday that he intends to hold October
hearings on CTBT. On the list of questions: "What laboratory,
test site and plant facilities and capabilities will be required
by the Treaty?" DOE can point to extensive studies that resulted
in the multi-billion dollar National Ignition Facility, under
construction at California's Lawrence Livermore Lab, but Domenici
may want to know what DOE has in mind for New Mexico's Sandia and
Los Alamos Laboratories.
4. NIH: QUACK MEDICINE OFFICE MAY BECOME A CENTER.
Not content to
fatten its budget (WN 5 Sep 97), Sen. Harkin
wants to turn the
Office of Alternative Medicine into the National Center of
Complementary and Alternative Medicine, greatly increasing its
visibility and budget. Rebuffed in attempts to attach his bill to
the NIH appropriation, he is now offering it as an amendment to
an FDA bill (S.830). It may come up as early as Tuesday.