APS News

APS Executive Board: More Science Needed in NASA Decisions

The APS Executive Board has passed a resolution calling on NASA to have greater involvement of research scientists in decisions that affect science programs. The resolution carried unanimously at the Board's meeting in early February.

The action came after NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announced in January that NASA intends to cancel a maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope that had been scheduled for 2006, thereby considerably shortening the Hubble's useful scientific life.

The Board's resolution refers specifically to the Hubble mission, urging NASA to heed calls for an independent panel to review the cancellation decision. Administrator O'Keefe cited safety concerns for the shuttle crew as the primary reason for scrapping the mission, but a pair of internal reports by a NASA engineer concluded that the data do not support O'Keefe's contentions. The reports were made public in a story in the New York Times on February 7.

The resolution expresses the opinion of the Executive Board, but it has not been passed by the APS Council and is therefore not an official statement of the Society. The Council's next meeting is in late April.

The text of the resolution follows: "The Executive Board of the American Physical Society calls on the leadership of NASA to increase the involvement of research scientists in decision-making processes that strongly affect scientific programs. In this context, the Executive Board urges the NASA Administrator to heed calls for an independent assessment of NASA's recent decision not to provide a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. The assessment panel should include research scientists."

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette