Friday, September 14, 2007

'Beyond Einstein' Research Should Begin With Mission to Study Dark Energy

The National Academy of Science's National Research Council panel has issued its report and recommendation on the next set of moderate but ambitious task to tackle cosmological issues. Due to NASA's budget constraints, the panel recommended only one project, the $1-billion-plus Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM), while putting the other projects on the back burner for now.

Prompted by Congress and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, NASA and DOE asked the committee to assess the five proposed mission areas and recommend one for first development and launch. NASA’s Beyond Einstein program, set to begin in 2009, is comprised of two astronomical observatories, Constellation-X and LISA, as well as a series of probes: the Inflation Probe (IP), the Black Hole Finder Probe (BHFP), and JDEM.

"All of the mission areas in the Beyond Einstein program have the potential to fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe," said committee co-chair Charles F. Kennel, distinguished professor and director of the Environment and Sustainability Initiative at the University of California, San Diego. "But JDEM will provide direct insight into a key Beyond Einstein science question, and is the most technically feasible option for immediate development."

It's too bad that sacrifices like this has to be made, while the scientifically meaningless ambition to send manned mission to the Moon and Mars are getting funding.


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