Does NASA stop all educational programs?

Original author: Ethan Siegel
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Once you have tasted the flight, you will always walk on the earth with eyes turned to the sky, for you have already been there, and you are irrepressibly drawn to return there.
- Leonardo Da Vinci

The last week turned out to be quite eventful, and, taking into account the last two posts concerning the Planck spacecraft [about which we already talked on Habré, approx. Per.] , I had absolutely no plans to write about anything else today. In the end, the amount of information that can be digested in a week is not unlimited, and over the past couple of days we already learned a lot about our Universe.

Perhaps the fact that the main source of funding for Planck is not NASA - this, after all, is not so bad. Because even though it was wonderful - to receive from NASA all this interesting information, to replenish your knowledge of the Universe and share this knowledge with the world - from today it will all end.

It will end because there will be no more NASA educational programs, so if you previously thought that cutting the Agency’s budget would not affect you personally, then perhaps you should reconsider your opinion. Next, I will provide the text of an internal NASA document establishing a new regulation for public relations.

As you know, we have already begun to take the first steps towards cutting costs in accordance with the 2011 Budget Control Act. This law introduces a series of ubiquitous cost reductions that will help save a total of about $ 1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

Now we will have to take a number of additional measures, as well as introduce a number of policies in order to try to minimize the impact of these reductions on those works that are critical to our space programs. We have already issued a document regarding the new rules for holding conferences, business trips and training, which correspond to today's budget realities. However, some employees asked for more specific instructions regarding public relations. These instructions are given below.

From now on, all public relations, educational and outreach activities should be stopped and awaiting approval.

This includes all activities aimed at providing detailed coverage of NASA's goals, objectives, missions and programs to the public. The term “public” in this case includes employees, partners, educators, students, and, in fact, the general public. In turn, educational activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Programs, seminars and other public events
  • Speeches, presentations and public speeches, with the exception of scientific and technical presentations at relevant symposia
  • Video and multimedia products under development (as well as updating current products)
  • Pages on social networks and websites under construction (excluding those that already work)
  • Internal and external publications, except technical and scientific publications
  • Any other activity whose purpose is to bring information about NASA's programs and activities to interested individuals and the general public.

More detailed instructions will be issued by the heads of the public relations and education departments. The Agency has already made a number of difficult decisions regarding conferences and travel. At the same time, an exception will be made for those that are scheduled between the release of this document and April 30, 2013, and which are considered critical for Agency programs.

With regard to future activities, the departments of education and public relations have developed a procedure to determine which programs (taking into account the current budget situation) will be considered critical, and therefore should be continued. All mission managers must provide lists of such peer review programs. These lists should be sent to David Weaver, Head of Public Relations, no later than April 15, 2013. Regarding educational activities, lists should be sent to Leland Melvin, also no later than April 15, 2013. The public relations and education departments will jointly audit the data obtained and decide which programs will be continued.

This document must be brought to the attention of all NASA employees, as well as freelance and contract employees. Heads of missions, centers, as well as managers of programs and projects are appointed responsible for ensuring that all work with the public is suspended and directed for approval. This document is valid at least until the end of the tax year 2013

As the situation with a budget reduction develops, this process of coordinating public relations activities will be subject to adjustments and refinements. We are grateful for your cooperation during this difficult period. All questions regarding this document should be directed to David Weaver, Head of Public Relations, Leland Melvin, Head of Education, Dr. Elizabeth Robinson, Chief Financial Officer, or David Radzanovsky, Human Resources Director.

NASA through its Twitter account calls for no panic ( one , two ), stating that an audit will be conducted to identify the most important areas in which public work will continue. Nonetheless hereSignature collection has begun (registration required) in support of NASA's ongoing educational programs. Signatures are not very many, but they are.

Let's hope that the situation is not as deplorable as it seems at first glance, because the closure of educational programs will cause a big blow to the popularization of science.

Thanks to Zelenyikot for pointing out the material.
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