Science  22 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5794, pp. 1715

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  1. A Lunar To-Do List

    1. Richard A. Kerr

    NASA asked the scientific community what science it should do when it returns humans to the moon, and this week it got a quick answer: the same things scientists have been saying all along. A report released by the National Research Council draws on previous recommendations for an ambitious, moon-girdling effort to understand the origins of such rocky bodies.

    NASA wanted prioritized research objectives for the robotic orbiters and landers that will primarily act as scouts and for the astronauts who will explore the moon's surface, initially in beefed-up Apollo-style missions. The study committee, headed by retired Aerospace Corporation executive George Paulikas, calls programs for lunar data analysis its top priority. Next is exploration of the South Pole-Aitken basin, an impact scar mostly on the moon's back side. Then comes an instrument network for probing the interior, followed by rock sample returns, scientifically selected landing sites, and analysis of any icy polar deposits.

    The targeted “science hasn't changed,” says committee member Carlé Pieters of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The objectives remain the same as when robots were going to do all the exploration.

  2. Respect for Authority

    1. Jocelyn Kaiser

    A House panel this week was expected to grant new budget authority to the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—and endorse a 5% annual raise for the $28.6 billion agency.

    The so-called reauthorization bill, introduced by Representative Joe Barton (R-TX), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, doesn't give the biomedical giant a dime. And Congress isn't expected to complete action on the measure until sometime next year. But lobbyists like its contents, including its support for solid spending boosts through 2009.

    Barton has eliminated an earlier controversial proposal that would have divided NIH's budget for its 27 institutes and centers into two pots—one disease-oriented and the other “science-enabling” (Science, 22 July 2005, p. 545). The bill would hold steady the total number of institutes and create a division to plan trans-NIH initiatives through pooled funds that would eventually encompass 5% of NIH's budget. “It's a really positive bill,” says Jon Retzlaff of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in Bethesda, Maryland.

  3. Prized Science

    1. Eli Kintisch

    This year's Lasker awards for medical science span generations as well as disciplines. University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Aaron Beck won an award for developing cognitive therapy, and pioneering cell biologist Joseph Gall, inventor of the gene-finding technique called in situ hybridization, was honored for a career of achievement. Researchers Elizabeth Blackburn (University of California, San Francisco), Carol Greider (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), and Jack Szostak (Harvard) shared an award for their discovery in the 1970s and 1980s of the enzyme that makes the ends of chromosomes, which has led to potential treatments for cancer and age-related ailments. “We had no idea this was going to have medical implications,” says Greider, calling the award a testament to “curiosity-driven” science.

  4. Exports: A Matter of Great Import

    1. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee

    The U.S. Commerce Department has asked a panel of experts to examine whether policies on limiting access to sensitive information and technologies should be reviewed. The move comes a year after the department proposed tougher rules on so-called deemed exports; universities and companies argued that the regime would hinder research. That proposal was shelved in May (Science, 19 May, p. 985).

    The 12-member panel will be headed by Norman Augustine, the former Lockheed Martin head, and Robert Gates, current president of Texas A&M University. Both served on a National Academies committee on national competitiveness that last year called for relaxing deemed-export rules.

  5. Greenhouse Report

    1. Eli Kintisch

    Cutting greenhouse emissions requires both research on new technologies as well as market limits on carbon usage, says the Congressional Budget Office in a new report.

    The report implicitly criticizes the Bush Administration's emphasis on energy research, arguing that “relying exclusively on R&D funding in the near term … would increase the overall cost of reducing emissions in the long run.” Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-M), who requested the study with independent James Jeffords (VT), says the work validates his call for carbon limits. The Competitive Enterprise Institute's Chris Horner thinks that strategy is unwise, pointing out that high gas prices in Europe, for example, have not led to lower emissions.