Saturday, September 22, 2007

NuSTAR Given NuLife!

OK, so that wasn't as funny of a title as I would like. Still, it's one piece of great news coming out of NASA these days, and an exception to the recent trends of either cancellation, or having to choose to fund one over the other. The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission that was canceled last year has been given the funding to go ahead with its project.

"We are very excited to be able to restart the NuSTAR mission," said Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. "NuSTAR has more than 500 times the sensitivity of previous instruments that detect black holes. It's a great opportunity for us to explore an important astronomical frontier. We are getting more and more from the science budget we have, and the restart of the highly valued NuSTAR mission is an example of that."

Could the arrival of Stern at NASA be something to rejoice in terms of funding for these small mission?

With the arrival of Stern this spring, small explorer missions, called SMEX, were back on the table. NASA will invite proposals by January for three new SMEX missions. NuSTAR's resurrection is a bonus, Boggs said.

"This is a very good sign that NASA and Alan Stern are committed to continuing NASA's tradition of performing cutting edge science," he said.

"he" as in Steven E. Boggs, a collaborator for the mission and an associate professor of physics at UC Berkeley.

Let's hope more saner heads will prevail at NASA.


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