NASA’s new science chief

By Phil Plait | May 8, 2008 11:26 am

As I expected, NASA just announced that Ed Weiler will be the head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate for the duration. Weiler replaced Alan Stern, who stepped down a few months ago amid controversy over funding, budgets, and the Mars rovers. Weiler has a long history with NASA science and was the obvious choice for a temporary replacement for Stern, and it’s not surprising at all that he has been asked to stay on.

Typically, when a new president takes office, Agency heads and such tender their resignation. The new President can then decide whether to accept it and replace them, or to deny it and let them stay on. Hard to say what will happen to Mike Griffin when a new President takes office in January 2009, and what will happen to the top spots at NASA. It’s an interesting thing to ponder though. I’ve had both praise and vinegar for Griffin, and in many ways I’d like to see him stay on, though in other ways I wouldn’t mind seeing him replaced. He has done a great job for NASA in many many ways, though all things being equal I’d be happier with someone who thinks global warming is real and a danger and isn’t dismissive of those who disagree.

Probably more important is how a new Congress will treat NASA. So much to think about! It’ll be very interesting to see how this plays out over the next seven or eight months.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Politics

Comments (7)

  1. John

    Eh, Griffin had a few ok moments, but his recent ‘dialogue’ with astronomers at the AAS, along with the infamous “not one thin dime will be cut” (right before cutting off a good 50 cent piece) have led me to believe that it’s time for him to go. Yes, he’s got a better understanding of the science and engineering aspects than his predecessor, but methinks he’s too entrenched in the current ‘vision’ to be able to move easily to a new administration.

  2. StevoR

    Well there are three people I’d love to see running NASA :

    1) Robert Zubrin whose got a human Martian exploaryion plan worked out brilliantly already. He’s given afew talks notably one Iattended inAdelaide that convincedme he’s got tehvisionand guts to do if he gets the funding ..

    2) Phil Plait – ’nuff siad! ;-)

    &

    3) Stephen Baxter – a British hard SF writer & the author of ‘Voyage’ (alternative history of how we could’ve gone to Mars in the 1980′s), ‘Titan’ verygrim &scarily accurate story of a human mission to Titan whilst the Earth collapses under the weight of Teh Stoopid.

    Course Iweouldn’t mind having acrack at it myself either!

    I thought Alan Stern was quite a good choice. However, new leadership in an increasingly (dis~)United States of America is proabably a good idea generally.

    Your current mob of fools in charge are a disgrace to your country & its true spirit & better nature – that of JFK, Isaac Asimov and Martin Luther King …

  3. StevoR

    Of course, what is really needed is :

    I) Proper funding – say for example all the amount currently wasted on the needless bloodshed, carnage and counter-productive action in the USA’s invasion & occupation of Iraq. :-(

    (Come to think of it even half that amnount would probably suffice to send people to Mars, Luna & a near-Earth asteroid or two wouldn’t it BA?)

    II) A proper communicator who can inspire (& inform / educate) the public imagination as happened back in ‘Mercury-7′ & ‘Apollo’ days.

    III) A new US President making invading outer space not innocnet nations here on Earth a priority – someone to ‘do a JFK’ and set a firm deadline : “We are going to Mars before this decade is out & we are, for once doing it in peace for the benefit all people ..” Then put the funding, the energy and the real effoirt into achieving that goal.

    Whoever runs NASA I’d reckon we need those three connected elements to happen before we’re going to get the first woman on the Moon, the first person on Mars & on an asteroid – or even just to save the dying space programme that you’ve now got ..

    Personally, I really hope Obama gets the nod before Bush Jr starts yet another war – which I see as, sadly, all too likely to be the Retardican parties strategy for getting war-mongering old McCain into power.

    I think the best hope of the world, quite frankly, is that the US military finally mutinies & launches a coup to stop Bush abusing them further and remove George II from power before he & his neo-Con ideologue puppet-masters do any more damage. I was hoping for impeachment of the neo-con regime – but it seems the Democratic party lack the requisite backbone. :-(

    This intelligent observer of the state of the USA is NOT optomistic about its future – or because of it the planets… :-(

    Americans – please prove me wrong!

    BTW BA : What do you think of Ed Weiler – good for NASA / Science or not? Good bloke or not?

  4. StevoR

    Of course, what is really needed is :

    I) Proper funding – say for example all the amount currently wasted on the needless bloodshed, carnage and counter-productive action in the USA’s invasion & occupation of Iraq. :-(

    (Come to think of it even half that amnount would probably suffice to send people to Mars, Luna & a near-Earth asteroid or two wouldn’t it BA?)

    II) A proper communicator who can inspire (& inform / educate) the public imagination as happened back in ‘Mercury-7′ & ‘Apollo’ days.

    III) A new US President making invading outer space not innocnet nations here on Earth a priority – someone to ‘do a JFK’ and set a firm deadline : “We are going to Mars before this decade is out & we are, for once doing it in peace for the benefit all people ..” Then put the funding, the energy and the real effoirt into achieving that goal.

    Whoever runs NASA I’d reckon we need those three connected elements to happen before we’re going to get the first woman on the Moon, the first person on Mars & on an asteroid – or even just to save the dying space programme that you’ve now got ..

    Personally, I really hope Obama gets the nod before Bush Jr starts yet another war – which I see as, sadly, all too likely to be the Retardican parties strategy for getting war-mongering old McCain into power.

    I think the best hope of the world, quite frankly, is that the US military finally mutinies & launches a coup to stop Bush abusing them further and remove George II from power before he & his neo-Con ideologue puppet-masters do any more damage. I was hoping for impeachment of the neo-con regime – but it seems the Democratic party lack the requisite backbone. :-(

    This intelligent observer of the state of the USA is NOT optimistic about its future – or because of it – the planets… :-(

    Americans – please prove me wrong!

    BTW BA : What do you think of Ed Weiler – good for NASA / Science or not? Good bloke or not?

  5. StevoR

    Oops! D’oh!

    Sorry about the double post there ..
    Thought I’d stopped that first draft going through in time..

    BadAstronomer : Please! Please! Please, can’t you find a way of letting us edit here? :-(

  6. Neil DeGrasse Tyson for Nasa Administrator!! W00t!

  7. StevoR

    To quote Pink Floyd :

    Hello. Is there anybody out there? Can anyone hear me there at all?

    Any chance of getting an answer to my question BA :

    What do you think of Ed Weiler – good for NASA / Science or not? Good bloke or not?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »