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(IAAC) Fwd: America's Space Program




Forgive the broad cross-posting: for those of you not on David
Dunham's direct maillist, I thought this might be of interest!

Lew Gramer


------- Forwarded Message

Date: Mon, 06 Sep 1999 02:41:50 -0400
To: webmaster@lunar-occultations.com
From: Joan and David Dunham <dunham@erols.com>
Subject: America's Space Program & a Capitol grazing occultation


          Don't let them end American Space Exploration -
        Ask your Representative to vote against the budget
         plan with deep NASA and NSF cuts, and invite them
          to watch a grazing occultation visible from the
            Capitol on Saturday evening, September 18th

     In late July, the House Appropriations Committee wrote a budget 
that will effectively end future Solar System exploration, as well 
as seriously jeapordize other space exploration and astronomy 
efforts by both NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The 
wording of the budget specifically cancels several missions that are 
part of NASA's carefully conceived plans, terminating, for example, 
all future Discovery and Explorer missions that are not already in 
fabrication.  Facing the chopping block, either directly or 
indirectly from cuts in technology development on which they depend, 
are CONTOUR (mission to 3 comets), Pluto Express, Deep Impact, 
Messenger (mission to Mercury), FIRST/Planck, Solar Probe, and 
others.  There are also large cuts in the budget that funds 
individual astronomers at colleges and universities.  A longer 
description of the impact of the House budget plan can be found at 
the American Astronomical Society's (AAS's) Web site at
http://www.aas.org/policy/.  It gives information and links to let 
you know how you can contact your Congressperson. 

     The full House will consider the funding bill, HR 2684, 
starting on September 8.  You, and your astronomy friends, are 
encouraged to write a short message to your Representative, letting 
him or her know that the cuts are unacceptable, and that funding 
for NASA and NSF should be kept at the President's requested level.
The cuts are especially demoralizing for NASA, which has been held 
up as an example for ways to streamline costs to other agencies 
(NASA's funding in current-year dollars has decreased steadily in 
recent years).  The new cuts are a slap in the face following NASA's 
successful efforts at "faster, better, cheaper" missions; they 
target what NASA does best and what has the most visibility to the 
general public.  Solar System and space exploration are the crowning 
achievement of our technological age; to curtail them now sends 
absolutely the wrong message to students at a time when the USA is 
trying to raise its educational standards to compete better in the 
modern global economy.  In addition to the NASA mission cuts, there 
are cuts in other areas, including space and astronomy educational 
efforts. 

     The AAS says that letters or faxes are the best way to 
communicate; e-mail carries very little weight, in spite of its 
convenience.  Phone calls are also effective, but letters or faxes 
are considered better.  The AAS's "Call to Action" message is given 
after my message; it gives several points that can be made.  Don't 
try to mention everything; 2 or 3 paragraphs (not more than 1 page), 
or even just a few sentences, are enough.  A short message is much 
better than none!  In addition to Congress (most urgent), copies of 
your message should also be sent to your Senators, since they are 
also writing a budget (they are a little behind the House in their 
process).  It will need to be reconciled with the House budget in a 
joint conference committee in late September, then it will go to the 
President, who could veto it, resulting in a further delay in the 
process.  But the sooner that the planned House cuts can be removed, 
or at least reduced, the better.

     You might also mention an unusual astronomical event that might
give your Congresspersons and Senators some appreciation for the 
night sky, and phenomena that take place there.  Maybe this could 
have a positive influence on their judgement of budget matters that 
affect what we learn about the universe around us.  It will be a 
grazing eclipse (properly called "grazing occultation"), of the 6th
magnitude star Z.C. 2697 in Sagittarius by the 60% sunlit (near 
first quarter) Moon that will occur between 7:47 and 7:53 pm EDT 
Saturday evening, September 18th.  It won't be visible with 
binoculars, but will be visible with almost any small telescope, 
with the star disappearing and reappearing repeatedly among 
mountains and craters in the lunar north polar area as it appears to 
pass along a line tangent to the Moon's disk.  Actually it is the 
Moon that is moving in its orbit about the Earth.  Note that NASA's 
recently completed Discovery mission, Lunar Prospector, determined 
that water ice is likely in some of the craters that will be 
involved in the graze.  The unusual aspect of this graze is its path 
of visibility, which passes from west to east directly over downtown 
Washington, DC.  The Capitol, the White House, the National Air and 
Space Museum, and the entire Mall are all within the graze zone.  An 
event like this occurs at a given location only once every ten 
years, on the average.  David Dunham, president, and other local 
members of the International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA), 
can set up small telescopes at or near the Capitol to show those who 
work there this event, if the weather forecast gives a reasonable 
chance for seeing it. We can videotape the graze and show it live on
monitors connected to our camera.  Anyone interested in this can 
contact Dr. Dunham by e-mail at dunham@erols.com, or by phone 
(within the DC toll-free area) at 301-474-4722 (home) or 240-228-
5609 (day).  A map showing the graze zone across the DC area is at 
http://iota.jhuapl.edu; sometime the afternoon of Sept. 7th, a view 
of the Moon and the graze will also be placed there.  It gives a 
link to IOTA's main site at http://www.lunar-occultations.com/iota 
where more information about occultations and grazes can be found. 

David Dunham, President, IOTA, 1999 Sept. 6

___________________________________________________________________     

Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 18:09:00 -0400 
From:	AAS Email Exploder Account [aasmail@supernova.aas.org]
Sent:	Thursday, September 02, 1999 4:45 PM
To:	aasmembers@aas.org
Subject:	AAS Call to Action - September 1999

***************** AAS CALL TO ACTION *****************

                  September 2, 1999

Marcia Rieke, Chair of the Committee on Astronomy and  
Public Policy

Robert Gehrz, President

Anneila Sargent, President-Elect


BACKGROUND

Congress returns from their August Recess on September
8, and the Space Science Community MUST make their
voice heard in Washington to maintain funding in FY
2000 comparable to FY 1999.  Members of Congress
clearly heard from the science community, and the Space
Science Community in particular, after the VA-HUD-IA
Appropriations Subcommittee released their report in
late July, which contained deep cuts to the President's 
proposed science budgets, especially to NASA.  

The science community has, unfortunately, been quiet
since the House Full Appropriations Committee restored
some, but not all of the Space Science funding.  The
NSF budget still has significant reductions and the
NASA budget is still much below the budget for FY 1999. 
This silence is being interpreted as community
satisfaction by some on Capitol Hill.  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The remaining 
reductions pose a serious threat to astronomical
research, but only a concerted effort on the part of
the science community, and members of the AAS in
particular can help the situation at this point.

CALL TO ACTION

NASA's budget is still not secure.  The House
Appropriations Committee restored roughly 400 million
dollars to NASA's budget, but the Office of Space
Science is still facing a 265 million dollar reduction
from the President's request.  This amount is about 8%
less than the budget for FY 1999 (before correction for 
inflation, which would increase the true percentage
cut) and represents a "going-out-of-business" budget
for OSS.  All future Discovery and future Explorer
missions would have to be canceled.  35 million would
have to be trimmed from the R&A budget, the money that
funds individual researchers at Colleges and
Universities.  The CONTOUR mission would be canceled 
and the future technology development budget would lose 
60 million dollars.  This cut in particular would cause
the cancellation of several missions including: Pluto
Express, FIRST/Planck, GLAST, STEREO, Solar Probe and
Solar-B.

NSF's budget as outlined by the House Appropriations
Committee is still about 2% below FY 1999, after
adjustment for inflation and 7% below the President's
request.  Numerous programs and activities are
threatened.

A full description of the impact of the House
Appropriations Committee's funding scheme is available
at the continuously updated AAS FY2000 Budget Action
web site: http://www.aas.org/policy/NASAACTION.html.

The House will consider the funding bill, HR 2684 on
September 8 and the Senate Appropriations Committee
will consider the VA-HUD-IA appropriations bill soon
after.  The time to make your voice heard on the Hill
is NOW!  Letters or Faxes are the best way to
communicate, email carries very little weight, despite
its convenience.  Phone calls are also an effective way
to communicate your opinion, but the CAPP recommends
that you write a letter.

Write to your Representative, the House Leadership, and
especially to members of the Senate Appropriations
Committee and your Senator letting them know that
funding for NASA and NSF should be kept at the
President's requested level.  Include an example of how
the budget cuts may affect you or your colleagues
personally.  Consider having your friends and family
write as well.  If every US member of the AAS had five
friends write to Congress, more than 30,000 letters
would arrive on the Hill.  This would be a powerful
message indeed.

Details on how to write to members of Congress,
including their addresses are available through the AAS
Public Policy webpage. ( http://www.aas.org/policy/ )

Some points to consider including in your
communication:

NASA

1)  The overall Space Science budget request for FY
2000 is only 3.6% higher than FY 1999 ($2,196.6M
vs.$2,119.2M), little more than inflation.
High-priority programs expecting to grow (within those
totals) include Mars exploration and the astronomical
search for Origins and other planetary systems.

2)  The proposed cut would be the largest reduction
ever made to Space Science.

3)  The subcommittee mark is, in essence, a
"going-out-of-business" budget for Space Science,
killing over half of future OSS missions, and more.

3)  Space Science has demonstrated excellent cost and
schedule performance for the last 5 years. Most of the
OSS missions are being launched on time, and on (or
under) budget. NO recent Space Science missions have
experienced overruns of more than a few percent.

4)  Point 3 shows that NASA is "FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE."

5)  Space Science has a broad, innovative, and
effective Education and Public Outreach program that is
reaching the public, including (especially) children,
with the excitement of science. It was no fluke that
the Mars Pathfinder website received 45 million hits
per day in July 1997.  Our missions and findings
receive constant national media exposure.  The recent
release of the first Chandra results are yet another
example of the productivity of space science.

NSF POINTS

1)  This reduction in research and education efforts is
inconsistent with the numerous studies, which have
documented the strong links between publicly-supported
research and wealth creation and benefits to society.

2)  The Committee's failure to provide funding to
implement the core recommendations of the President's
Information Technology Advisory Commission is
especially troublesome as it goes against the advice 
of leaders throughout industry who see basic research
in information technology as a key to growth in every
sector.

3)  Earlier this year, before the Joint Economic
Committee, Dr. Eric Schmidt of Novell, Inc said:  "It
is thanks to federal funding for research in the
post-war years that we have the Internet.  One of the
best investments Congress can make is to assure strong
support for Federal research...except for small
increases in the past three years, overall federal
support for research has been flat or declining for a
decade.  We must make substantial, consistent increases
in federal funding for basic science, engineering, and
technology research."

4) The overall impacts of the 7% reduction from the
President's FY 2000 request would be:

     a) Erosion of NSF's investment in the nation's
        science and engineering research and education
        infrastructure and slowing of development of the
        S&E knowledge base and of the intellectual and
        technical personnel base.
     b) A negative impact on industry and mission 
        agencies that rely upon the research results
        and trained personnel coming from academic
        research and education activities supported by
        NSF.
     c) A reduced investment in the nation's
        universities and colleges.
     d) Elimination of major portions of the proposed 
        information technology initiative including 
        the deferment of large scale advanced 
        supercomputing hardware needed to support 
        fundamental research across all disciplines of
        science and engineering.
     e) Reductions in collaborative efforts with 
        federal, academic, and private partners.
     f) About 6,000 K-12 teachers would not receive 
        training or enhancement activities in science 
        and math education. Approximately 385,000 
        K-12 students would not benefit from the 
        standards-based instruction that would have 
        been provided by these teachers.
     g) NSF would not be able to increase award size 
        or duration as planned and the already low 
        success rates for proposals would decrease 
        even further. (NSF awards currently average 
        less than $100K and are one-third the size of 
        NIH awards and almost half the duration.)
     h) NSF would not be able to increase the
        percentage of competitive grants going to new
        researchers just starting their careers       
        to its goal of 30%, without sharply reduced 
        funding rates for experienced researchers.


------- End of Forwarded Message



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