Fri, Mar 28, 2008
Was Mars Rover Memo To Blame?
Neither NASA nor the agency's
soon-to-be-former science chief are offering any public explanation
for his sudden resignation on Wednesday, after only a year on the
Planetary scientist Alan Stern is NASA's associate administrator
for the Science Mission Directorate. He told colleagues only that
he'd remain in the post for a few weeks. NASA says he'll be
replaced temporarily by Edward Weiler, director of NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.
Reuters notes the announcement comes just a day after NASA
rescinded a letter sent last week to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in California, directing a scaling back of operations by the Mars
rovers, Spirit and Opportunity.
The move was intended to free up $4 million per year in NASA's
budget for redirection to future exploration programs, but
immediately drew protests from both scientists and casual space
As ANN reported, on Tuesday
NASA retracted the letter, saying it had not been fully coordinated
with agency Administrator Michael Griffin. The agency made clear
that "...no Mars rover operations will be suspended or shut
Asked if the issue was related to Stern's departure, NASA
spokesman Robert Jacobs told Reuters, quote - "There's no
indication one way or the other. The bottom line is that it was his
(Stern's) decision to resign."
In his only official comment on the matter, Griffin said "While
I deeply regret his decision to leave NASA, I understand his
reasons for doing so, and wish him all the best in his future
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