ScienceScope

Science  22 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5734, pp. 543
  1. Rip Van Hubble

    1. Andrew Lawler

    Keeping the Hubble Space Telescope in orbit until 2030 could save NASA a bundle of money—at least in the short run. Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, say that a canny use of orbital mechanics and the fuel left aboard might allow NASA to avoid attaching a $150 million deorbiting module to the 14-year-old giant telescope. NASA already expects to spend some $200 million on a mission to ensure that Hubble burns up safely—money that would likely come out of science mission budgets. Managers fear that including a deorbiting module for astronauts to attach would make the mission vastly more complex and costly. A decision is pending.

  2. SREL Saved for Now

    1. Eli Kintisch

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has thrown a lifeline to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL) near Aiken, South Carolina, reversing a White House plan to close the $7.7-million-per-year lab this fall (Science, 25 March, p. 1857). But 51 of its 180 employees face layoffs, and its budget will be slashed to $4.3 million.

    DOE had planned not to fund the lab in 2006, reflecting a controversial shift away from pollution studies at the surface, the lab's forte. DOE has now pledged some $3 million for the lab, barring direction otherwise from Congress. A department official said a reevaluation had found that the department's needs for surficial science made the turnaround necessary.

  3. U.S.-Indian Ties Enhanced

    1. Pallava Bagla

    Calling India “a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology,” the Bush Administration this week agreed to share U.S. civil nuclear technology with its ally despite India's refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

    A Washington visit by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also produced a protocol on the contentious issue of intellectual property rights for joint research projects. Export controls between the nations will also be scaled back, agricultural projects boosted, and joint space projects tackled. The United States will endorse India's participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project in France. The agreements require congressional approval.

  4. Wanted: More Vet Research

    1. Cathy Tran

    Despite growing threats from animal-based diseases such as avian influenza, the number of veterinarians conducting disease research in the United States is declining, according to a pair of reports released this week by the National Academies. Noting that three-quarters of animal diseases can affect humans, the studies call for more training facilities and government support for animal disease research. One obstacle to progress, they add, is the reluctance of single-mission agencies to support research at the intersection of animal and human health. Legislation introduced this year in the House and Senate would forgive school loans for vets working to regulate agriculture or conduct research.

  5. Barton Draws Critics

    1. Eli Kintisch

    Political fires are burning hot over an inquiry by a House panel into a paleo- climate analysis that shows a rise in temperature in the 20th century. “A congressional investigation … is probably not the best way to resolve a scientific issue,” says Ralph Cicerone, the new president of the National Academy of Sciences, in a 15 July letter to Energy and Commerce panel chair Joe Barton (R-TX).

    Barton had asked the National Science Foundation and several climate scientists for information on “methodological flaws and data errors” in papers published in 1998 and 1999 by Michael Mann of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville (Science, 1 July, p. 31). Other critics of Barton's queries include House Science Committee chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), who calls it “misguided and illegitimate”; AAAS, which publishes Science; and 20 prominent U.S. climate scientists who wrote to support Mann's conclusions this week. Barton calls his questions a “routine matter of oversight.”

  6. European All-Stars

    1. Gretchen Vogel

    BERLIN—Still without a budget or structure, the proposed European Research Council (ERC) now has 22 eminent scientists to guide its first steps. The newly named scientific council, which includes several Nobel Prize winners, British Royal Society president Robert May, and Polish science minister Michal Kleiber, will determine the initial shape of the ERC. The high-prestige members may also help sell politicians on the concept, says Luc van Dyck of the Initiative for Science in Europe.