Friday, 14 August 98 Washington, DC
1. S.2217 FINDS A COMPANION IN THE HOUSE.
On August 6, Rep.
Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced H. 4515, a companion piece to
Senate bill S.2217, the Federal Research Investment Act of 1998.
It is presumed that Wilson introduced H.4515 with the blessings
of Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), both
of whom have been outspoken supporters of increased science
funding. S.2217 and H.4515 call for a doubling of non-defense
R&D funding over a twelve-year period. As of August 12, S.2217
had 26 co-sponsors. Co-sponsors will be added to H.4515 after
the August legislative recess.
2. THE WAYWARD AND THE LOST: A TALE OF TWO SATELLITES.
the best of signs, it was the worst of launches. A $1B Air Force
spy satellite went out with a bang, while elsewhere in space, the
$1B SOHO satellite came back with a bleep. NASA and ESA
scientists lost contact with SOHO on June 25, after a series of
command errors caused the solar observatory to spin out of
control. With its solar panels misoriented, SOHO's period of
independence proved to be a cold existence. After locating the
satellite with ground-based radio telescopes, scientists re-established
meaningful contact on August 8. Efforts are now
being made to thaw the hydrazine fuel and regain control of the
wayward satellite. "The main thing is that the spacecraft is now
responding to us and we will take one step at a time to bring the
spacecraft into a more favorable attitude," said ESA's John
Credland. While scientists worked on SOHO's attitude, the Titan
4A rocket exploded 42 seconds after liftoff. Its payload was a
$1B secret spy satellite -- not much of a secret anymore.
3. NEW STUDY CONFIRMS GLOBAL WARMING...MAYBE.
A recent study in
Nature reports satellite data shows evidence of troposphere
(WN 1 May 98)
. According to NASA's James Hansen, this
makes it "very difficult to deny the reality of global warming."
Not surprisingly, troposphere coolists disagree. John Christy
questions the study's findings, claiming "the troposphere has a
means of expelling heat that hasn't been taken into account." A
third group contends the argument is moot. Satellite data only
covers two decades -- too short a period, according to some, to
detect meaningful climatic trends.
4. ISS: DEPENDENCE ON RUSSIA THREATENS STATION.
launch of a new crew to Mir was delayed when power to the launch
facility was cut off in response to unpaid electric bills.
According to NASA's Dan Goldin, production of Progress and Soyuz
space vehicles "has virtually ceased due to nondelivery of
components," distressing news considering ISS construction calls
for more than 40 Progress flights. In spite of all this, the
White House asserts Russia will fulfill its ISS obligations.