Friday, 1 May 98 Washington, DC
1. SPACE STATION: NASA TURNS OFF THE COUNT-DOWN CLOCK.
was the first thing that greeted visitors to NASA's ISS web site.
It once counted the seconds until launch of the first components;
as delay followed delay, it began counting in days -- now it's
gone. WN first reported more than a month ago that an outside
panel, convened by NASA at the request of Congress, found the ISS
to be almost $7B over budget and 3 to 4 years behind schedule.
The panel, chaired by Jay Chabrow, put much of the blame on
Congress -- congressional leaders were more inclined to blame the
President. The Science Committee will hold hearings on Wednesday
to decide what to do now. WN predicts that Congress will do what
it always does: tell NASA this is absolutely the last time, and
then transfer funds from science to the station
(WN 27 Mar 98).
2. THE BLACKLIST: MORE TROUBLE FOR THE SPACE STATION?
Is there a
secret State Department list of Russian agencies that have been
providing Iran with missile technology? Existence of such a list
was first reported by USA Today. Agencies appearing on the list
are presumably ineligible for US money. WN has confirmation that
such a list does exist -- and the Russian Space Agency is on it!
3. CLIMATE: SATELLITE DATA SAYS IT'S EITHER WARMING OR COOLING.
Data from NOAA weather satellites analyzed by Group A seemed to
indicate that over a twenty-year period there has been a slight
cooling rather than the slight warming inferred from surface
measurements. Then Group B pointed out that the analysis failed
to account for atmospheric drag, which would put the satellite
trajectory 15km closer to Earth. That turned cooling into a
slight warming. Group A accepts Group B's correction, with many
thanks, but finds that orbital precession of the satellites and
calibration drift in the radiometer may offset the atmospheric
drag effect. Group B appreciates this latest refinement, but...
4. RESEARCH INVESTMENT ACT: COLORADO ECONOMY LINKED TO SCIENCE.
An Op-Ed in today's Rocky Mountain News, "High Tech Research
Fuels Economic Growth" by Carl Wieman, professor of physics at
the University of Colorado in Boulder, notes that, although
Colorado scientists are world class and high-tech industry in the
state is growing at twice the national average, the science
infrastructure of the entire nation is starting to show signs of
neglect. Wieman urges Colorado Senators Allard and Campbell to
co-sponsor S.1305, the National Research and Investment Act.
5. MICROGRAVITY: CONCERN FOR HEALTH OF PASSENGERS ENDS MISSION.
The crew wanted to extend the trip another day, but the fragile
health of the surviving baby rats persuaded NASA to bring the
shuttle Columbia home on Sunday. Animal rights groups have been
highly critical of the losses sustained thus far. There is no
word on the condition of the crickets or snails
(WN 24 Apr 98).