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Appropriations Bill Threatens Future Space Science Missions

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the give-us-plutonium-or-give-us-death dept.

NASA 233

ColdWetDog writes "A brief story in the Atlantic notes that the U.S. Senate's energy appropriations bill has failed to supply funds to continue Plutonium-238 production, needed for radioisotope generators for NASA's interplanetary probe programs. No PU-238 means no more missions like Cassini-Huygens, or ones that go places where solar cells won't produce enough power. The article notes that the only other source of PU-238 is Russia — either through the government or through trolling through Siberia and the Russian coastline looking for old Soviet Era lighthouses and power stations."

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No need for it, go SOLAR! (0, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | about 3 years ago | (#37378894)


Why is this a bad thing? Plutonium is one of the most toxic subtances known. If a spacecraft carrying this stuff blew up after lift-off, the resulting radioactive debris field could be massive. That could potentially shower millions of people with radioactive dust. It would be in our clothes, in our eyes and, worst of all, inhaled into our lungs.

It would be a one-way ticket to radioactive-based diseases like some cancers and serious vertebral subluxations. Think for a moment: it takes BILLIONS of dollars to make Plutonium from scratch. They could make much larger solar collectors for these distant spacecraft.

This is the 21st century, there's no need for us to keep creating radioactive items to sustain ourselves. The need for radiation died out with the Cold War.

Take care,
Bob.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about 3 years ago | (#37378912)

1st reply to dr trollbob!

way to fail science yet again Dr Bob, probably no less than 3 times in this one post!

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (0, Troll)

Dr.Bob,DC (2076168) | about 3 years ago | (#37379026)


You seem to be a Show-Me-The-Evidence-Blinded-By-Science people. Those are the people that believe anything that ~science~ can demonstrate. Can you disprove Santa? No.

It's gotten so bad that the entire Chiropractic community is under attack from within. [facebook.com] They are wanting to turn us into yet more generic "medical types" who can't talk about subluxation or recommend drug-free remedies for various maladies.

Back to the subject at hand. If my "science" is bad, why do so many Chiropractors see patients who work in and around nuclear power plants? Radiation = Ill Health.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379164)

That Facebook link is member-only. Here's the text:

A massive email complaint campaign is under way regarding the Council on Chiropractic Education.
Many people have asked why should I be involved...read the article below
http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=55252
http://www.chiropractic-biophysics.com/clinical_chiropractic/2010/9/15/cce-cartel-is-at-it-again.html

Basically, the CCE has eliminated two essential terms unique to chiropractic: subluxation and "without the use of drugs and surgery" in the new standards for chiropractic colleges. This of course means that even the best colleges that now address family care will be required to fill their curriculum with more ancillary requirements and deviate from core chiropractic care. Graduates will be at a greater deficit. This will affect our scope of practice and the public's ability to receive quality, drugless chiropractic. Our unique identity as "separate and distinct" will be will be lost.

In December, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) will be holding its open meeting and reviewing the CCE. As a profession, we have the opportunity to respond..but our window of time is short. Letters of concern must be received by the Board of Education by September 16th, which is this Friday.

There are three ways to take action:

1- Doctor input:
Please write a personalized letter. This will take all of 10 minutes. That's a very short time to protect your future. Sample letter is below.

Once written, e-mail it immedietly to this address: aslrecordsmanager@ed.gov
with the subject line: Written Comments re Council on Chiropractic Education

blind cc steve_tullius@yahoo.com to ensure we have records of your complaint.

2- Patient input:
Have your patients sign this prepared petition. The USDOE is very concerned with consumer input, so this step is as important as your letter.
http://33dcs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CCE-Lay-People-Complaint-Final.pdf

scan and email to addresses above or fax the petition to (202) 219-7005 by Sept 16

3- Student input:
Please distribute this petition amongst students. Student rights are a direct concern of the USDOE.
http://33dcs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/CCE-Student-Petition-Final.pdf

Students please write personal letters following the samples here.

If you are not yet convinced that you need to act now, or you are looking for more resources to understand why..visit these links and read up!

The CCE has ignored the profession's input to their new guidelines...

"In September 2010, the CCE Task Force on Accreditation Standards released a second draft to the public for comments. At the latest meeting on January 14th, the CCE met and adopted new educational standards that will become effective in January of next year. Dr. Welsh, who attended the public proceedings, reports that the CCE President announced that the Council had received two complaints. No details were provided. Council members were reminded of the need for complete confidentiality. In October 2010, it was reported by Welsh that the CCE had received approximately 3000 submissions from the profession."

Breaking News - CCE Ignores Input from Profession on Standards, January 25, 2011

http://vertebralsubluxation.mccoypress.net/2011/01/25/breaking-news---cce-ignores-input-from-profession-on-standards.aspx

Dr. Chris Kent, President of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation calls us to action:

"It is now up to the profession to ensure that the student of today graduates with a strong philosophical base and a keen awareness of the profound potential of chiropractic's contribution to human health. The fundamental issues are simple. Are we a profession with a clearly defined mission, or are we a profession simply seeking some niche which offers access to a slice of the health care pie? Are we driven by principles or politics? Is our political position defined by our mission statement, or do we grovel to get whatever crumbs the insurance industry tosses our way? Do we have an identity defined by our purpose, or are we chameleons who change our colors to blend into the existing environment?"

A new direction for the CCE? Dynamic Chiropractic November 18, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 24
http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=55021

Dr. Joe Betz, ICA Board Member, reveals the ramifications on our practices:
"The assault on our profession from within has reached unprecedented levels. If the silent majority does not speak up and do so very quickly, the chiropractic profession as we know it will cease to exist. You can no longer go into your practice and just adjust your patients and go home. You need to work to protect what we have inherited. It is our responsibility."

CCE "Cartel" is at it Again- American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic http://www.chiropractic-biophysics.com/clinical_chiropractic/2010/9/15/cce-cartel-is-at-it-again.html

Dr. James Edwards, past ACA chairman, calls out the minority in our profession:

"This left-wing fringe of the profession, through revision to CCE standards, is now attempting to abolish all references to the subluxation, willing to designate our degree as DCM (Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine), and willing to delete all language that states chiropractic is a drugless and non-surgical profession. Are you paying attention? You should be because, to a great degree, CCE has the authority and power to define who you are and what you do. So, why am I so upset? Well, just look at CCE's proposed changes:
Adding the words or their equivalent to DC degree programs, thus authorizing the DCM degree;
Deleting every reference to the word subluxation; and
Deleting the "without the use of drugs and surgery" provision."
Dynamic Chiropractic - October 21, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 22
http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=54917
and labels CCE immoral
"This incestuous selection process has failed to produce CCE board and council members who are willing and able to represent the mainstream positions of the majority of doctors of chiropractic, the majority of chiropractic colleges, and both national chiropractic membership organizations. And until CCE changes its electoral process, it will remain an organization without any moral authority to speak for the chiropractic profession."

Exposing the CCE Charade, Dynamic Chiropractic - April 9, 2011, Vol. 29, Issue 0
http://www.cce-usa.org/uploads/2010-01_Council_MANUAL.pdf

Dr. Gerry Clum, former member of the CCE, reveals the CCE biasness:

"Think about the appointment process to the Council - people get nominated, they are vetted by a committee of the Council on ambiguous criteria, they are put on a ballot that allows preferences to come into play, then a decision is made by the people who already sit on the Council. The opportunity for in-breeding, and election of people who represent a given orientation in the profession versus another, is obvious."

An open letter to the profession: http://www.chiro.org/docs/cce_revision_clum.pdf

And finally....

Dr. Denardis, one of the individuals hearing the case for the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity at the last reaccreditation hearing stated,

"Battles over turf, battles over philosophy, maybe battles over personal ambition, but divisions of every kind. And some of this, maybe most of it, is a consequence of, at least as I see it, a monopoly control of a profession which has led to the establishment of a virtual cartel..."

If you get the chance...read the entire transcript of the last hearing here...
http://www.mccoypress.net/dialogues/docs/2011-1111_cce.pdf

*IMPORTANT* Do not copy and paste. Take the 10 minutes to make it unique. Does not have to be long. Just unique and personal. PLEASE REMAIN PROFESSIONAL IN ALL COMMUNICATIONS.

Three or four main issues need to be addressed: 1. The CCE is not representative of the profession., 2. CCE is attempting to move the practice of chiropractic into the practice of medicine., 3. The student loan default rate is a reflection of the the curriculum the schools are forced to teach under CCE mandates., 4. CCE has attempted to mandate a medical education, which leads chiropractors to fail in practice.

A sample letter is below...

Dear Sir or Madame:

Please accept this official complaint to the US Department of Education (USDOE) against the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE).

I am extremely concerned that the CCE is no longer representative of the profession and, as a result, that the curriculum which is unique and distinct in chiropractic has all but been lost. The future availability of chiropractic as one of the most powerful and cost-effective forms of healthcare is at risk.

The CCE is in direct violation of the USDOE Criteria for Recognition
Section 602.13 - Acceptance of the agency by others

Recent changes to standards for the accreditation of chiropractic institutions will further reduce chiropractic towards a subset of medicine, having eliminated essential language which defines chiropractic as a separate and distinct philosophy, science, and art. According to institutions, faculty, and the profession at large, the term "subluxation" and the language "without drugs or surgery" are essential elements in defining chiropractic. I also agree that these are core elements to the value and effectiveness of chiropractic.

The CCE is in direct violation of the USDOE Criteria for Recognition
Section 602.14 - Purpose and organization &Section 602.15 - Administrative and fiscal responsibilities

There are direct financial and political conflicts of interest at the CCE which have been evidenced formerly in previous investigations. A very specific philosophical and political agenda is also apparent in the recent changes to the Standards described above.

The CCE is in direct violation of the USDOE Criteria for Recognition
Section 602.16 - Accreditation and preaccreditation standards

The standards and guidelines the CCE sets for the accreditation of institutions is not producing successful doctors of chiropractic, nor is this being monitored. With attrition rates being quite high, and defaults on student loans for chiropractic education even higher, graduates are not well prepared for success. It is no wonder that when taught medicine, graduates fail at chiropractic. The accreditation of institutions which are no longer required to teach the core principles and practice of chiropractic in their curriculum removes the very uniqueness that adds value for the public and makes chiropractic effective and efficient healthcare.

In sum, the CCE is no longer representative of the profession and has been exercising it's control to move the profession away from it's unique and core value as a distinct and effective approach to health and wellness.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379232)

Dude, I just read that you are a chiropractor, all your science credibility just went to slightly above UFO enthusiasts.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (0)

gtall (79522) | about 3 years ago | (#37379776)

C'mon, it isn't that high. Dr. Bob's more on the level of Creation Science....ack, gag me with a spoon....

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about 3 years ago | (#37379250)

Bob you're good, you almost got me to reply taking you seriously!

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 3 years ago | (#37379366)

Yeah, he's sneaky. First time I saw him, I actually had an angry rant up DEFENDING him of all the things, and then I actually stopped and reread his post and the one ripping into him and said, "Hey... wait a second..."

World class troll, that one. World class.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37378920)

I was about to ask if you were effing retarded, then I saw your username...

RTFS

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (3, Informative)

lgw (121541) | about 3 years ago | (#37378980)

Why is this a bad thing? Plutonium is one of the most toxic subtances known. If a spacecraft carrying this stuff blew up after lift-off, the resulting radioactive debris field could be massive. That could potentially shower millions of people with radioactive dust. It would be in our clothes, in our eyes and, worst of all, inhaled into our lungs.

Sorry to reply to such an obvious troll, but the point is worth discussing. Pu is a really nasty poison - but then so is hydrazine. Rockets have some nasty stuff. However, a chunk of Pu metal isn't such a hazard - it becomes so toxic when reduced to dust.

Spacecraft carrying RTGs are designed with this hazard in mind (as well as the danger of "roll up") and if the rocket should explode the RTG system is designed to fall from any alitiude and remain a solid lump of Pu.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379000)

At the moment, it still costs more to produce very very large solar panels to produce the amount of power needed for these spacecraft. Not only that, but if you account for the extra weight added to the craft from them, it would cost more in the long run to put those into orbit. Hopefully this will change in the next decade, but its still a problem. (Also the fact that a lot of the elements needed for solar cells like that come from places not too friendly to us at the moment. (eg China.) Sometimes I wonder. Cut budgets to spend more money in the long term. People do not seem to ever take the long range plans into account.

Bah. (1)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37379082)

Aside from the fact that the amount of plutonium involved would be so fantastically small that you couldn't detect it. (Scatter a few grams of anything over a few hundred square kilometers and the concentration really isn't that much.) You probably breath in a thousand times as much radioactive material as an entire decay-powered generator has every time you enter a city with a coal power plant. Further, most US cities have incredibly high levels of legal non-radioisotope carcinogens in the atmosphere from other sources. Besides, it certainly doesn't cost billions of dollars to make plutonium. It comes for free whenever you operate any of the older nuclear power stations.

Not cheap (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | about 3 years ago | (#37379644)

You get 239Pu from power plants, along with 240Pu in high-burnup fuel. 238 is a small fraction and impractical to separate.

238 requires custom production, for example by separating and irradiating Neptunium 238. Which means reprocessing infrastructure, which is seriously expensive to build, and not exactly cheap to operate if you've already built it for other purposes.

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379104)

test, ignore

Re:No need for it, go SOLAR! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379530)

fuck you

Read the writing on the wall (2)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#37378936)

NASA is toast. No politician wants to say it out loud, but they've been setting this up for some time now. The space race is over and they've been scrapping various parts of NASA for the last few years now.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37378994)

It's got nothing to do with the space race. NASA is one of the main agencies tracking climate change and it's a bit of an odd coincidence that the same party that denies climate change is the same party that seems to feel that NASA is no longer needed.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (2)

Jiro (131519) | about 3 years ago | (#37379070)

The Democrats and Obama are denying climate change? Wow.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1, Troll)

Kenja (541830) | about 3 years ago | (#37379180)

Did you know that the senate and the office of the president are not the same things? Most of us had this explained in grade school, but it seems some where bussy eating paste.

It is the senate republicans that are trying to do away with all science, art, education and health care under the guise of fixing the budget. Not sure why they're doing it, but they do seem keen on the idea.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379586)

"but it seems some where bussy eating paste."

Really? And were you bussy eating paste during English 101?

"It is the senate republicans that are trying to do away with all science, art, education and health care"

Wow, all that depends on NASA's RPGs? Amazing.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 years ago | (#37379652)

appropriations, while authorized by the congress, is under the purview of the presidency.

Please, by all means show where republicans are trying to do away will +_all_science_art_education and health care.

You will not be able to honestly do it. What you will find is people who value certain things over others and think the limited form of government that the federal government was designed to be means something to this day.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37379734)

Perry. That nimrod thinks TX schools teach creationism. Which would be illegal if true. He sure is trying to get rid of all education.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379676)

It is the senate republicans that are trying to do away with all science, art, education and health care...

Did someone explain hyperbole to you in grade school, and how it actually makes your argument less credible?

Re:Read the writing on the wall (3, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#37379716)

Upon what do you base your belief that Senate Republicans are responsible for this spending cut? The Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party. The House, which is controlled by the Republicans, passed an appropriations bill which funded this program.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

gtall (79522) | about 3 years ago | (#37379866)

Well, to be fair, they are doing it because science is in a vast conspiracy to destroy Christian values, capitalism's propensity to not put a value on the environment thus making it harder for Republican's to get elected on "jobs", and naughty thinking of SOME economists pointing out fallacies in Republo-Econ 101 theory as what's spewed during Republican debates (i.e., just about any of Ron Paul's ideas). Now if Scientists would just come clean and reveal the inner workings of this conspiracy, then we could have an honest debate over it. Well, it would be honest except the last thing the Republicans want is an honest debate over Science.

Yet where is the highest employment? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | about 3 years ago | (#37379152)

Florida and Texas, not exactly bastions of Democrat support.

So I guess we could find any reason to support any outcome.

It is far simpler than that, NASA does not generate sufficient votes and every dollar is now too precious to "waste" on science when it could buy votes. Sorry for being cynical but you sometimes cannot help it when you watch what they do

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379182)

It's got nothing to do with the space race. NASA is one of the main agencies tracking climate change and it's a bit of an odd coincidence that the same party that denies climate change is the same party that seems to feel that NASA is no longer needed.

This is a Senate bill. Take a quick look and see which party is in charge of the Senate right now.

Posting anonymously so I can mod you stupid.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (5, Insightful)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about 3 years ago | (#37379200)

I think you're really over-thinking this. I don't think politicians are that sophisticated and I don't think climate change factors into thinking as much as you seem to think it does. If Republicans were so hung up on climate change why wouldn't they just cut funding to those specific agencies responsible for climate research. But it's irrelevant anyway given that climate research is done by far more people than simply NASA.

This is how NASA gets screwed:
Republicans demand spending is cut. They don't care how or what as long as it looks like they've cut something. Democrats refuse to cut government staff or social programs, anything that might secure votes, so they go after unpopular programs. The thing is that Democrats, like Republicans only care about the jobs of people who will keep them in power.

NASA happens to be one of those unpopular programs. You have the conservatives who think the money should go to defense to protect us from terrorists.. And liberals think all that money should be spend here on Earth. But sides balk at the big price takes, ignorant of all the work required to conduct a successful space program. They are also oblivious to the huge long-term benefits of a space program, that you can't just will new technology into existence.

The pathetic irony is that after all this we then have everyone lamenting about the loss of American technological superiority. Unfortunately, the problem starts at the bottom, with the American public's fixation on sports and celebrity culture. We've brought this on ourselves and we perpetuate it by resorting to checklist politics. God-forbid a liberal have some conservatives ideas, or a conservative some liberal ideas.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37379466)

The thing is that Democrats, like Republicans only care about the jobs of people who will keep them in power.

NASA and their infinite collection of subcontractors was always a decent source of STEM-type jobs. I suppose if the kids today are smart enough not to go into STEM fields because all those jobs already have or soon will go to Chindia, then there is little lost by getting rid of the govt cheese jobs.

They are also oblivious to the huge long-term benefits of a space program, that you can't just will new technology into existence.

Technology is for China and India. We will become a nation of small retailers at the low end, like "pirate costume stores" and at the middle-higher end we will become rich selling each other insurance policies and real estate. Meanwhile the rich will always have their fraction of the national net worth and income increase, always. I know this sounds idiotic, because it is, but its how our leaders think, which explains a lot.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

asylumx (881307) | about 3 years ago | (#37379664)

God-forbid a liberal have some conservatives ideas, or a conservative some liberal ideas.

So true! It's hard to be a moderate because those liberals think you're a conservative, and those conservatives think you're a liberal!

Re:Read the writing on the wall (2)

jd (1658) | about 3 years ago | (#37379870)

It's not even just long-term benefits. NASA does an awful lot of engineering work for American aviation (military and civilian), which has very immediate benefits for places like Boeing.

And, yes, you're absolutely right about the technological superiority thing. It's not limited to space tech - it's very debatable as to whether it would be even possible to re-import a lot of the tech jobs (such as plasma TVs, digital cameras, etc) back into the US due to the total lack of the necessary skills and experience. It's no good people whining about the problems caused by globalization if they then force both the local talent and the local jobs overseas. In the case of NASA, this would be to Europe and Russia, though to some extent India as well. The scientists want the same stuff done and if the former Soviet Union is going to be more obliging than Congress, then that money (and those scientists) won't wait on Congress. They'll go where the action is, same as everyone else.

Of course, this would not be such a catastrophe if America developed new industries and new skills to fill in the gaps every time work got exported. You can't do everything single-handed and it makes sense to export some things. Likewise, overseas markets take time to ramp up and have only finite workers with the necessary abilities. So long as you keep moving forwards, you don't lose anything by donating what is no longer practical. The catch is, you've got to move forwards for this to work.

Re-inventing the Saturn wouldn't have helped much, since the Russians could adapt Soyuz to do the same work for less. Projects like the Blended-Wing Body passenger jet NASA was working on, the turbine-assisted ramjet, or the now-abandoned hypersonic jet - these are the things that could have kept NASA ahead of the curve. In F1, the saying is that if you're not moving forwards, you're moving backwards. The current state of funding for NASA, combined with the brain-drain and transfer of funds to places more willing to venture into space, is a perfect demonstration of how this applies to every industry.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 3 years ago | (#37379226)

The article refers to the Senate approprations bill. Are you aware that the Senate is controlled by the Democrats? Which means that this appropriations bill was almost certainly written by a Democrat staffer.
It was an Obama appointee to head NASA who said that his number one priority as head of NASA was outreach to Muslims. That sort of priorities on the part of the Administration might explain why NASA is being dismantled. Well, that combined with the fact that most NASA employees are in Texas and Florida, states that most likely will vote against Obama next year (OK, Texas will certainly vote against Obama, and Florida will likely vote against Obama).

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37379520)

Well, that combined with the fact that most NASA employees are in Texas and Florida

Ah but they've got sub contractors all over the country. In fact you can't really do anything there without involving as many states and districts as humanly possible. Its actually getting to be a problem, as the intentional destruction of our industrial capabilities means more and more work simply can't be done here anymore, and its not like China or India need foreign aid.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#37379234)

Yes. It's going from bad to worse. Some would argue that the government has never really supported the interests of the nation but have always supported the interests of business. I can't agree with this in its entirety or there never would have been a NASA and we would not have had child labor laws, the FDA and more. That's not saying they are doing what they should be doing or that they aren't doing enough, but they exist and at one time or another, did serve the interests of the people.

These days, we are seeing business interests trampling the public need all over the place while the government is paid to allow it to happen. Even after AT&T's lies were exposed, various parties in government are demanding an explanation as to why the AT&T merger is being blocked by the DoJ. They can't be that stupid. They are obviously being paid to put up a fight to enable the deal to go through despite the obvious problems with AT&T needing to explain themselves in a truthful and logical manner. So far, their lies have gone unexplained as far as I can tell.

And yes, I can see where certain parties who dislike the results would like to punish them for telling the truth. There are some amazingly short-sighted people in office who aren't interested in the truth and would seek to "change reality" rather than work within it. (BTW, congress is voting for exemptions on the law of gravity... write your congressman!!)

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379272)

Last time I checked, the Senate was run by Dingy Harry. But kudos on the knee-jerk spin! Almost first out the gate!

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37379386)

It's got nothing to do with the space race. NASA is one of the main agencies tracking climate change and it's a bit of an odd coincidence that the same party that denies climate change is the same party that seems to feel that NASA is no longer needed.

For the religious types, facts opposing them encourage them, shows the devil cares enough to try to tempt them.

I think its probably more a factor of apathy. Some paleo-conservatives on the far left believe there was or currently is a garden of eden across the planet and if we have to commit civilizational suicide so New Orleans sinks beneath the waves in 200 years instead of 100 years, well then lets fire up the ovens and sharpen the hatchets. Everyone else is like "eh".

Where I live has been under a mile deep sheet of ice, and has been a tropical sea, in the distant past. In the distant future it will again be under a mile of ice or become a tropical sea again. Not seeing the supposedly obvious moral and ethical virtue of committing cultural suicide somewhere in between the two.

Very few people hear NASA and think climate change. Mostly hear NASA and think landing on the moon when grandpa was young, and exploding shuttles, if anything.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

Biff Stu (654099) | about 3 years ago | (#37379522)

It has nothing to do with climate change. Satellites in Earth orbit that study climate change can get plenty of power from solar panels and will eventually de-orbit. Nobody wants to release Pu when these satellites de-orbit. The Pu is reserved for missions to the outer planets where there is not enough sunlight to power the spacecraft.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 years ago | (#37379534)

I don't think so. As some have pointed out.

Florida, and Texas are the states with the most to gain from NASA Existence and those are States that do have a history of switching parties and hold a good amount of votes.

If they are going to "Debunk the Myth of Global Warming" they are going to need more Complicated Facts in which they can twist around. NASA would be a great tool of that you get a lot of complex data, easy to "Mathify" (Like Quantify but used to obscure vs. enhance) to make your own personal conclusion.

NASA and the Military go hand and hand.

Corporations want to keep their satellites up and running and put new ones as some point.

The real problem isn't some grand scheme against NASA or a conspiracy. It is just the Right Wing has gotten Nutty Right and doesn't like any Government funding for anything.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about 3 years ago | (#37379892)

Except that the Senate is majority Democrat, not right wing. The Right typically likes NASA, as you said, it goes hand in hand with the military. According to TFA, the House (Republican majority) recongnized the problem but didn't do anything about it, and the Senate just ignored it entirely. I don't think it makes sense to politically polarize this issue as they're both doing it.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 3 years ago | (#37379060)

NASA is toast, because with the next-gen USA the bankers will recive so much in never-ending bailouts they can start their own space agency.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379092)

space is the next financial bubble. we have all this space up there. we can never run out of space in space.
 

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37379772)

space is the next financial bubble. we have all this space up there. we can never run out of space in space.

I'm willing to sell you all the space you can cart away for only $10,000 a cubic meter. Get it now before the price doubles: they're not making any more space!

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

0racle (667029) | about 3 years ago | (#37379090)

Add to that that no one has the balls to look at defense or education spending. Cutting NASA's funding ($17b*) will totally make more of an impact than looking at Defense ($613b*). More money has been spent on Air Conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan than is being spent on NASA.

Americans spend more on pizza [universetoday.com] every year than they do NASA.


* - 2009 budget levels.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379194)

yes, but i can eat pizza and it helps me sustain life... where as a picture of jupitar or a scan of neptune doesnt

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | about 3 years ago | (#37379356)

Scans of other planets so you know where to build that base on mars will come in pretty handy when the next giant asteroid comes by.

Don't think I'm anti-pizza though. I'm ok with there being a pizza joint on-base.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (0)

TopSpin (753) | about 3 years ago | (#37379224)

spend more on pizza

Eating has a big constituency.

Re:Read the writing on the wall (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379242)

NASA is toast. No politician wants to say it out loud, but they've been setting this up for some time now. The space race is over and they've been scrapping various parts of NASA for the last few years now.

"America is toast. No politician wants to say it out loud, but they've been setting this up for some time now. The cultural race is over and they've been scrapping various parts of America for the last few years now."

This is just another in a long line of things in which America has been slowly getting rid of innovation, it's own ideals, and all of the things that made it great. Slowly turning into a country run by people who don't believe in science, and are racing to entrench their own narrow views into law.

The rest of the Western world, hopefully will not follow this example. Though, I have my doubts.

Deja Vu all over again: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 years ago | (#37378938)

Not a problem. We'll just rely on the Russians just like with manned access to the ISS. What could possibly go wrong?

Or the Iranians (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 3 years ago | (#37379218)

They'll have plenty soon.

Re:Or the Iranians (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 years ago | (#37379274)

"They'll have plenty soon."

They might even be willing to deliver it.

Re:Or the Iranians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379618)

In 30 minutes or less, or your money back!

Re:Or the Iranians (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37379784)

actually, that would be far beyond their abilities to produce, and at any rate useless for a bomb. while fissionable isn't fissile.

No more PU-238? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37378944)

That means no more Explosive Space Modulators for Marvin to use to threaten to blow Earth away!

Re:No more PU-238? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379150)

That was PU-236 you insolent clod!

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37378976)

In Soviet Russia, plutonium trolls you!

Re:In Soviet Russia... (3, Informative)

Hartree (191324) | about 3 years ago | (#37379020)

"plutonium trolls you!"

No, no. That was back on Usenet.

What, you've never hears of Ludwig Plutonium and the Plutonium Atom Totality?

Plutonium and Alexander Abian were the net loons supreme on sci.physics for years.

Don't worry. (0)

imric (6240) | about 3 years ago | (#37379004)

The magic invisible hand will save us by hiring the Russians and the Chinese to look after our interests. What could possibly go wrong?

Use anti-matter, shouldn't be that far off now :) (1)

youn (1516637) | about 3 years ago | (#37379006)

well according to star trek at least... only about 50 years left until first contact

Re:Use anti-matter, shouldn't be that far off now (1)

confused one (671304) | about 3 years ago | (#37379808)

Star Trek also said WWIII occured before first contact...

Nice Post (-1, Offtopic)

ads free (2459832) | about 3 years ago | (#37379032)

Nice story submitted http://adsplazza.com/ [adsplazza.com]

Have you asked the Libyans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379062)

I'm sure they'd trade fox a box of old pinball parts

anti-nooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379080)

Democrat anti-nooks have been trying to end NASA's Pu238 RTG use for decades.

Leave space to the Chinese. They don't tolerate anti-nooks.

Re:anti-nooks (1)

imric (6240) | about 3 years ago | (#37379112)

Yup. Only paperbacks and kindles should be allowed in space.

Re:anti-nooks (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 3 years ago | (#37379196)

Why are the Democrats opposed to Barne&Noble eReaders? They are not really competing in the iPad market,, only against the Kindle and other low cost devices.

Winding down the age of transmutation (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about 3 years ago | (#37379102)

Many short-lived isotopes are in short supply. There's very limited US tritium production, medical radioisotopes production is so limited that there are medical shortages, and there are fewer research reactors operating. Transmutation is almost a dying technology.

Most of the radioisotopes were made in facilities built for bomb programs. Both the US and the USSR now have far too much bomb-grade PU-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. The giant nuclear facilities of the Cold War are mostly idle, or are hazardous waste sites.

The smaller nuclear powers are mostly separating uranium isotopes, which today is a centrifuge operation carried out in plants of modest size. The old gaseous diffusion plants were huge - square miles of plant.

Brilliant Idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379116)

How about we cut more money in the short term, so we can spend more in the long term? Plus we don't have to do anything, lets provide money to people who don't care about us too much and get what we need in return.
Price raising? Bah, who cares about that. Nobody likes science anyways.

So what's the whole list now? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 3 years ago | (#37379190)

So let's see, SSC canceled but that was a while ago. James Webb Telescope on the chopping block, probably gone. Tevatron closing (and yes, the Tevatron does a lot of work that can't be done at the LHC. It uses lower energy but a different set of collision types). And now this. At this point it really seems like the US is just giving up at doing interesting science when it has anything like a big price tag where a big price tag means a price tag that is a tiny fraction of the military budget.

Re:So what's the whole list now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379238)

Nah the Rhic is still going strong BUT the rhic is also linked to the governments space radiation lab which also does research for the military . Maybe thats why it keeps getting funding.

GOOD !! IT'S A BIG FUCKING WASTE OF MY MONEY !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379216)

Some pie in the sky 8 BILLION DOLLARS so a few hippie uglies can jump up and down for a few seconds 20 years from now is not in my plan !!

Re:GOOD !! IT'S A BIG FUCKING WASTE OF MY MONEY !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379928)

Damn straight! And all my tax money that goes to bridges and roads I'll never use.

Well FUCK THAT SHIT

Could we use tiny U235 fission reactors instead? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 3 years ago | (#37379236)

From what I understand, all the Pu238 really does is generate heat, which is used to power spacecraft. Aren't there designs for tiny fission reactors which will accomplish the same thing using enriched Uranium (of which we have plenty)? Wouldn't this be an excellent substitute? I don't think it's a safety issue: If they blow up on launch, it's still less radiation spilled than Pu238 logs that we use now, and if they melt down in deep space, it's not our problem.

What am I missing?

Re:Could we use tiny U235 fission reactors instead (3, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#37379332)

Complexity and weight. A radioisotope thermal generator has exactly zero moving parts. It is almost literally a sphere of nuclear unstable metal, surrounded by some thermocouples. You really can't get much simpler and hardy than that.

Re:Could we use tiny U235 fission reactors instead (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379346)

Even enriched uranium has far too long a half-life to make it useful enough to lug its weight around.

That said, other isotopes might work just as well, but those would have to be made, too.

--PM

Re:Could we use tiny U235 fission reactors instead (2)

gewalker (57809) | about 3 years ago | (#37379372)

What you are missing is how radioactive Pu-238 is compared to U-235 / U-238

Pu-238 half life 87.7 years. U-238 4.5 billion years, U-235 713 million years, so using pure U-235 the material is 8 million times less radioactive. -- So, you need a corresponding bigger lump of U-235. Needless to say, this is quite a different thing.

Re:Could we use tiny U235 fission reactors instead (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#37379558)

Fundamental minimum mass of a fission reactor is immense compared to the minimum size of a RTG. Also "no moving parts" fission reactors are hardly off the shelf, although there are theoretical ideas based on pebble beds. I would imagine a pebble bed reactor in zero-G transitioning to midcourse thruster acceleration would be quite a handful to theoretically simulate.

Hurray for sanity (0, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 years ago | (#37379334)

Has anyone here ever even considered the risks of sending a NUCLEAR REACTOR through the Earth's atmosphere on a rocket? What's the failure rate for rockets, 10%? That's a ten percent chance of spewing radioactivity all over the planet, totally unacceptable. Perhaps acceptable to teabaggers and other "America Firsters", but the rest of the sane population of the planet thinks differently. You can't differentiate between military application and those capabilities which are civil and commercial in nature. Nuclear anything is bad, according to leading environmental and climate change scientists (fully accredited with Ph.D's and serving as professors at elite universities, mind you). Don't forget that October 1-8 is "Keep Space for Peace Week [space4peace.org] ".

Remember the 1989 launch of Galileo? The military-industrial complex made the decision for you, that such a horrible risk was "acceptable" and went through with launching a plutonium reactor through the biosphere even though dedicated, lifelong environmentalists evaluated the risk as unacceptable. There were those who bravely stood in protest of Galileo, but the American mainstream (i.e. right-wing) media portrayed the heroes as misguided idiots...just like today. Julian Assange, who has become such a big name due to his courageous work with Wiki Leaks, was moved enough by the campaign against the Galileo launch to feature it in the first chapter of his book. [space4peace.org] . Let's face it, if you're against WikiLeaks, you're pretty much a teabagger, or an anti-intellectual. How else do you justify disagreeing?

Protect the planet, no nukes in space! Again, this is an accredited opinion, backed by the best and most well-funded environmental NGOs, as well as university professors all across academia. The people on the other side of the argument are on the side of the Pentagon. Geekdom typically ignores its responsibilities to the planet in favor of "OOH, SHINY!" or the discredited triumphalism of the Apollo landings. All it takes is a "natural 1" on a d20 and the planet is fucked, permanently. What say you, geeks? Those of you on the political right may excuse yourselves from replying, as your opinions have already been pre-discredited by The Smart People in our society.

Re:Hurray for sanity (-1, Flamebait)

JockTroll (996521) | about 3 years ago | (#37379392)

Curious. I didn't know child rapists were allowed to post from jail. How come you have this privilege, DNS-and-BIND? Did you do "special favours" to some guard?

Re:Hurray for sanity (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37379424)

Fine. Let's build the reactors in space.

Geeks say educate yourself before posting (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37379450)

a Pu-238 battery is not a nuclear reactor. It's just a heat source and some thermocouples to make electricity from heat. Pu-238 only gives off alphas which can be stopped by sheet metal, or your skin for that matter.

Re:Hurray for sanity (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 3 years ago | (#37379508)

There's a lot wrong with what you've said. First of all, these reactors are thermoelectric reactors. They don't have any moving parts and they don't have any highly radioactive components. Pu-238 is radioactive and nasty, but there's more danger from it being a heavy metal than it being radioactive. Moreover, one is talking about very small quantities of Pu-238, literally grams of matter. If a rocket with that explodes it will be a minor mess on the launch pad and not much else. Other than a very tiny easily cleaned up area, the total radiation level will not be beyond background even assuming the radioactive material does get breached (which is tough since it is very secured).

You are also confused about claiming this has something to do with the military. This sort of technology is not that useful for the military. Although Pu-238 has been used in some satellites the primary purpose is civilian space probes that need to go deep into space where the sun is dim from being so far away. The idea that you can't differentiate between military and commercial uses says more about you than it does about whether such differential is possible.

Your statement about Julian Assange is also worth discussing if in a marginal fashion. You are engaging in classic tribalism. Just because someone agrees with Assange on one thing or another is in no way a reason to think that one has a logical reason to agree with him on other things. For example, I can agree with Ron Paul on immigration issues and still think that his attitude about the Federal Reserve is deeply wrong. Similarly, your attempted comparison to people who disagree with you to Tea Partiers fails in a similar fashion. Reversed stupidity is not intelligence ahref=http://lesswrong.com/lw/lw/reversed_stupidity_is_not_intelligence/rel=url2html-23799 [slashdot.org] http://lesswrong.com/lw/lw/reversed_stupidity_is_not_intelligence/>. Just because a position is taken up by a group that is frequently wrong or even morally repugnant does not mean that any position which they endorse is necessarily wrong. Indeed, given that the position in question is a trivial budget cut that has a large negative impact, this seems to be right up their alley.

Re:Hurray for sanity (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 years ago | (#37379692)

Just as I expected, the right-wing nutbag majority modded my post down to -1. Typical. If you agree with Ron Paul on immigration issues, I can only assume you're one of them. Get a fucking education at a real university, and learn what modern thought is on immigration. Hint: it's not fences, it's welcoming diversity.

Re:Hurray for sanity (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about 3 years ago | (#37379748)

Bad example then since I don't agree with Paul's stance on immigration but think his stance is more moderate than that of a lot of Republicans. If you prefer consider his stance on the Patriot Act where he voted against it. The basic point should be clear: I can agree with someone on some positions and disagree with them on others. Just because someone has bad positions in one issue doesn't make every position they have automatically bad.

Re:Hurray for sanity (2)

theJML (911853) | about 3 years ago | (#37379552)

DNS-and-BIND: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassini%E2%80%93Huygens#Plutonium_power_source [wikipedia.org]

To quote the article: ASA's complete environmental impact study estimated that, in the worst case (with an acute angle of entry in which Cassini would gradually burn up), a significant fraction of the 32.7 kg[4] of plutonium-238 inside the RTGs would have been dispersed into the Earth's atmosphere so that up to five billion people (i.e. the entire terrestrial population) could have been exposed, causing up to an estimated 5,000 additional cancer deaths[21] (0.0005 per cent, i.e. a fraction 0.000005, of 1 billion cancer deaths expected anyway from other causes; the product is incorrectly calculated elsewhere[22] as 500,000 deaths), but the odds against that happening were more than 1 million to one.

In other words, there was a 1 million to 1 chance that the space craft might have caused an additional 5000 deaths due to radiation. NOT the 10% you came up with. iirc from the news at the time, a malfunction of the space craft in most probable consequences could have resulted in a small population receiving about what you'd get from one X-ray as the PU-238 ball would mostly just fall through the atmosphere.

THIS (1)

Caviller (1420685) | about 3 years ago | (#37379568)

This is what scares the living shit out of me 100 times more over then ANY nuclear reactor launch could ever do. People who say "Smart person A says this, it's what i believe too, so it's the only truth outthere and everyone else is WRONG!!!"

God save humanity...

Re:Hurray for sanity (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379646)

Has anyone here ever even considered the risks of sending a NUCLEAR REACTOR through the Earth's atmosphere on a rocket?

Yes. They've also considered RTGs, which are the topic of the article.

What's the failure rate for rockets, 10%?

More like 1% for typical launch platforms.

That's a ten percent chance of spewing radioactivity all over the planet, totally unacceptable.

Unless the RTG is designed to withstand a rocket failure and make it down in one piece, spewing nothing -- as they are.

Good troll so far -- great contrafactual density, sticking to technical points, and drawing /. pedants out to make any or all of the replies above. Especially the first one -- practically guaranteed that they'll throw in a personal opinion regarding reactor safety, whether for or against, which is a great opening for a follow-up

Perhaps acceptable to teabaggers and other "America Firsters", but the rest of the sane population of the planet thinks differently. You can't differentiate between military application and those capabilities which are civil and commercial in nature. Nuclear anything is bad, according to leading environmental and climate change scientists (fully accredited with Ph.D's and serving as professors at elite universities, mind you). Don't forget that October 1-8 is "Keep Space for Peace Week [space4peace.org] ".

Remember the 1989 launch of Galileo? The military-industrial complex made the decision for you, that such a horrible risk was "acceptable" and went through with launching a plutonium reactor through the biosphere even though dedicated, lifelong environmentalists evaluated the risk as unacceptable. There were those who bravely stood in protest of Galileo, but the American mainstream (i.e. right-wing) media portrayed the heroes as misguided idiots...just like today. Julian Assange, who has become such a big name due to his courageous work with Wiki Leaks, was moved enough by the campaign against the Galileo launch to feature it in the first chapter of his book. [space4peace.org] . Let's face it, if you're against WikiLeaks, you're pretty much a teabagger, or an anti-intellectual. How else do you justify disagreeing?

Protect the planet, no nukes in space! Again, this is an accredited opinion, backed by the best and most well-funded environmental NGOs, as well as university professors all across academia. The people on the other side of the argument are on the side of the Pentagon. Geekdom typically ignores its responsibilities to the planet in favor of "OOH, SHINY!" or the discredited triumphalism of the Apollo landings. All it takes is a "natural 1" on a d20 and the planet is fucked, permanently. What say you, geeks? Those of you on the political right may excuse yourselves from replying, as your opinions have already been pre-discredited by The Smart People in our society.

But now you throw away that strong start by focusing on the political side. This is /., not freerepublic or dailykos, and a good troll will camoflage itself by reflecting the primarily technical nature of the local discussion, with a dash of political disparagement for color. Even noobs have at least 36% chance of marking any highly political post as a troll. (Good work with the Assange tie-in, though!)

Overall: 2.3/10

it's OK, China will do it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379418)

We're living in a period of transition of world power from the US (past) to China (future). China has been rapidly expanding its space exploration programs, just as the USA is gutting its. So this is quite OK - it just means that the drive to explore space is going to be coming from a different place. But it will still happen, and probably at a faster pace once China gets seriously ramped up, because unlike western powers, they aren't crippled by fear.

Some speculations (3, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | about 3 years ago | (#37379420)

I know we all love our space projects here and I'm no exception - but the reality is that part of recovering from this unfathomly huge deficit is cutting spending.

If you were looking at your finances and were trying to take care of your debt aggressively you'd cut damned near anything not necessary. I can't really fault the politicians for this per se, but if they're going to make the programs we love suffer they need to continue cutting elsewhere as well (which appears to be happening relatively slowly and painfully). I've heard them mention there'd be sacrifice and thus I'd also like to see them cut their own benefits and salaries; however, I haven't seen such occur yet. (If it has and I've somehow missed it by all means educate me).

My questions to you all:
-If we start slashing budgets in this manner how does this affect jobs? Obviously there will be layoffs but will it be on a scale that's more/less devastating to our economy as a whole?
-Would you approach this specific funding issue differently?
-What else would you cut?

And NASA's budget is what? (1)

mange (113241) | about 3 years ago | (#37379454)

With a budget of $18 Billion (so says wikipedia), they can find a way to fit in the $15 Million if they are actually planning an interplanetary mission.

Re:And NASA's budget is what? (1)

robot256 (1635039) | about 3 years ago | (#37379852)

Problem is, there are so many other cuts in the budget that there are not much in the way of interplanetary missions being seriously considered. Either they already cut those programs and cutting the Pu enrichment followed naturally, or they are looking for excuses to cut the missions and making them pay for the enrichment directly is a way to make them go over-budget and get killed. Everybody at NASA is trying to get new projects rolling, but there is so little mission money left that most proposals are being turned down.

Oh noes (2)

rdpratt (1854096) | about 3 years ago | (#37379492)

As a recent graduate of an Astronomy program, all these recent cuts are making me sweat. How can we really complain about "not enough engineers" and "American science isn't what it should be" when every day I read about more cuts to the industry? How can we really have anything to dream and hope for, as human beings, as space exploration comes to a halt? What are the millions of children who want to become Astronauts going to dream about at night? Becoming a movie or hip-hop star? As a culture we need ideals that can produce hopes and dreams for our future; otherwise we won't have much of a future at all. Cutting spending to the space industry is the quickest way to crush all these aspirations.

Re:Oh noes (2)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37379610)

What are the millions of children who want to become Astronauts going to dream about at night?

Kids used to dream about being astronauts when they did exciting stuff. Not so much now they just deliver pizza to the space station.

I doubt that many dream of being train drivers anymore either.

Re:Oh noes (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379710)

As a recent graduate of an Astronomy program, all these recent cuts are making me sweat.

I know this is hard to accept, but you are aren't so smart. If you were smart you would have graduated as a banker or IP lawyer, made your millions and then you could do all the space hippy stuff as a hobby. Instead, you are going to spend the rest of your life filling in TPS reports from some indian or chinese boss. If you are lucky you might get your own cubicle which might cut down a bit on the curry stench emanating from Rajan opposite you.

The good news: you say you are a recent graduate so maybe it's not too late to choose a more fitting career for a 21st century american. Moral of the story: money first, ideals later.

Am-241 batteries better (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#37379506)

Am-241, while only producing 1/4 the power of Pu-238 for a given volume, will output for centuries with its nearly 500 year half life. Much better for long term missions.

Re:Am-241 batteries better (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 3 years ago | (#37379752)

Am-241, while only producing 1/4 the power of Pu-238 for a given volume, will output for centuries with its nearly 500 year half life. Much better for long term missions.

How many 500-year missions does NASA have planned right now?

America probably won't exist in 500 years, let alone NASA.

Re:Am-241 batteries better (1)

erice (13380) | about 3 years ago | (#37379770)

Who needs a probe that can remain electically powered for centuries? Most missions are limited by limited by fuel for maneuvering thrusters. Needing 4x the mass for electrical power likely means less fuel. You could switch to ion engines, which are thriftier but but then you need much more electrical power, which you won't have.

#irc.trooltalk.com (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379612)

the system cLean liTtle-known tangle of fatal

Fuck Science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379702)

Lets go bomb some third world countries at great expense instead!

From wikipedia: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37379914)

The United States currently has limited facilities to produce plutonium-238.[2] Since 1993, all of the plutonium-238 the U.S. has used in space probes has been purchased from Russia.

So exactly how is this dooming space probes?

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