Thursday, July 21, 2011

AURA Supports the JWST (and others as well!)

Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States of America,
The James Webb Space Telescope is in trouble.
Team portrait during testing phase for JWST mirrors back in April 2011. Click to embiggen

AURA - The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy - has produced a web page collecting some of the statements of support for the James Webb Space Telescope from various peoples and organizations. Their page contains a valuable set of links which are worth reading for anyone interested in saving the James Webb Space Telescope from Congress. The original text of the article:

AURA Reaction to Proposed Cancellation of JWST 
Today, AURA strongly objected to the proposal by the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee to terminate the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST remains the world's foremost effort to push the boundaries of astronomy and astrophysics.
Over the past year, NASA managers and the science community have undertaken a concerted effort to establish a budget and technology plan that allows the launch of JWST by 2018. The proposal by the Congress to terminate the program comes at a time when these efforts are coming to fruition. In addition, in June, NASA contractors completed the polishing and fabrication of all of the JWST mirrors completing one of the most challenging technical hurdles.
In commenting on the proposed cancellation, Dr. William S. Smith, President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy said "Against a backdrop of widespread discussion over the future of NASA and the human spaceflight program, it is tragic that the Congress is also proposing to curtail NASA's science program. JWST is NASA's premier science facility, unsurpassed by any other telescope now or in the future."
Dr. Dan Clemens of Boston University, Chair of the AURA Board, said "The science community has planned and eagerly anticipated JWST since it was identified as the highest priority astronomy program over a decade ago. The importance of its science has only increased since then. I hope that this year's final appropriations bill will provide the needed support to complete this program."

The page includes the following links, which are reproduced here:
House Committee On Justice, Commerce & Science Markup Materials
Statement by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a steadfast JWST Supporter
   (Find the Senator on Twitter @SenatorBarb)
Statement by the American Astronomical Society
Letter drom Dr. William Smith to the House Appropriations Committee
   (Dr. Smith is AURA president)
Statement from Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland
Statement by Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland
   (Scroll down a bit...)
Space Telescope Science Institute Statement
Statement from the Canadian Astronomical Society 
   (Canada's own Space Agency is funding $750 Million to JWST)
Letter to the President's Science Advisor from JWST Advisory Committee
   (a must read)
List of these links as well as media coverage
   (also worth reading)

Remember, when contacting your representatives, do feel free to drop these names and organizations in your letter/email/phone call. It doesn't not hurt to mention that you "feel the same as the Canadian Astronomical Society" or that you "echo the sentiments of Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congress members Donna Edwards and Steny Hoyer. Whatever you include, JWST will be saved if you at least contact them.

Congratulations Atlantis!
Just wanted to give a quick acknowledgement to the Space Shuttle Atlantis Space Transportation System Mission 135. Atlantis and her four member crew just touched down at Florida's Kennedy Space Center a little over an hour ago (watched via NASA TV), ending the final Space Shuttle mission and ending of the Space Shuttle era. Atlantis herself logged in 33 flights for a total of 307 days in space, 4,848 orbits of the Earth, 125,935769 miles traveled. Some may be sad that America's manned space program is ending, but it is only a transition. We will be back. In the meantime, let's focus on getting the James Webb Space Telescope to fly, so that future astronauts will know more about where they are going =) Here is a video recording of Atlantis landing in Florida.

As always, Space Warriors, do not forget the 4 steps to saving JWST: 

   a) Sign the Petition
   b) Like the Facebook Page
   d) Spread the Word


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