Wednesday, January 5, 2011

This is how the conquest of space dies...

From the NYTimes:
An ambitious $1.6 billion spacecraft that would investigate the mysterious force that is apparently accelerating the expansion of the universe — and search out planets around other stars, to boot — might have to be postponed for a decade, NASA says, because of cost overruns and mismanagement on a separate project, the James Webb Space Telescope. The news has dismayed many American astronomers, who worry they will wind up playing second fiddle to their European counterparts in what they say is the deepest mystery in the universe.

JWST, of course, is already nearing $7 billion sunk with launch (by Europe's Arianespace) already slipping by a year.
“How many things can we do in our lifetime that will excite a generation of scientists?” asked Saul Perlmutter, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, who is one of dark energy’s discoverers.

Apparently nothing, considering these spending extravaganzas over the past thirty years have done nothing to stop Americans from fleeing the science and engineering fields in droves.

On Euclid, the European duplication of WFIRST:
Alan P. Boss of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who heads a committee that advises NASA on astrophysics, said: “If Euclid goes ahead, [the Europeans are] going to own the field. There’s no way the U.S. can stop them.”

So what? Dark energy ain't exactly a growth industry.  And if you want to keep up with the Europeans, here's an idea.  Pick up a phone and offer to collaborate.

No comments:

Post a Comment