Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2001 15:25:34 -0500
Subject: DPS Mailing #01-49: Arecibo, DPS Prizes, etc.

Seasons Greetings DPS colleagues - 

       +------------------CONTENTS:------------------------------+
       |1) PRESS RELEASE: TERMINATION OF ARECIBO RADAR ASTRONOMY |
       |2) DPS PRIZE WINNERS                                     | 
       |3) MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTS                                 |
       |4) CONDOLENCE INFORMATION FOR MAYO GREENBERG             |
       +---------------------------------------------------------+

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DPS PRESS RELEASE: NASA TO TERMINATE ALL RADAR ASTRONOMY AT ARECIBO

NASA has notified Don Campbell, Associate Director of the National 
Astronomy and Ionosphere Center at Arecibo and Head of the Radar 
Astronomy Group, that all funding for Arecibo radar studies will 
be terminated on January 1. The large Arecibo dish is used to 
characterize the surface properties and shapes of asteroids having 
orbits that bring them close to Earth. It has recently discovered a 
satellite around one of them, which provides information about the 
asteroid's interior structure. Arecibo radar measurements provide 
the most precise orbits for these objects, from which the best 
assessment of their hazard to the Earth can be made. The research 
is part of NASA's program to identify, by 2008, all objects larger 
than 1 km with near-Earth orbits and to characterize a portion of 
them. The U.S. Congress mandated this program several years ago.

NASA currently funds a number of search and follow-up programs to 
find these near-Earth objects and to determine their orbits. With 
no additional funding to meet the Congressional mandate, NASA has 
carved $3.55M out of other portions of its planetary astronomy 
research and analysis program in FY2002. The Arecibo program is 
unique in the precision of its measurements and its ability to 
characterize these targets, but pressure from increasing costs in 
the search and recovery programs required to meet the 2008 deadline, 
with no increase in funding for the program to do the job, has caused 
NASA to cannibalize other programs. Arecibo is the latest victim.

NASA has invested $11M in the Arecibo facility to upgrade it for 
carrying out radar studies of solar system objects as distant as the 
moons of Saturn (in support of the Cassini mission), but now has no 
funding to make the observations. NASA research programs have been 
level-funded over the past decade while costs have increased and new 
research programs have been inserted. The agency has recently committed 
to increase funds for its research programs at the rate of inflation 
and provide some new funding for astrobiology. In such a constrained 
fiscal environment, NASA says that asteroid characterization "may have 
to take a back seat" to NEO search and recovery because it "can no 
longer do everything it is supposed to do". In the meantime, the rest 
of NASA's observational astronomy program and mission support suffer 
and a substantial investment in a national facility is abandoned.

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical 
Society believes that the Arecibo program should not be terminated 
to meet an arbitrary deadline. The Congressional language says that 
these goals should be achieved "to the extent practicable"not at all 
costs. The NASA NEO search program is already making excellent
progress.  
In the long term we call on the Administration to work with the Congress 
to increase the resources for non-astrobiology research programs in 
NASA Space Science as they provide the knowledge base on which our solar 
system exploration efforts rely.

The DPS is the world's largest professional organization dedicated to 
the exploration of the solar system.

Contact:

Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.
DPS Chair
202-478-8910
huntress@gl.ciw.edu

Dr. Richard P. Binzel
DPS Vice-Chair
617-253-6486 or
617-253-9317
rpb@mit.edu

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DPS PRIZE WINNERS 

We are pleased to announce the following winners of the DPS prizes 
for the year 2001, to be presented at the Ann Arbor meeting in 
October, 2002.

Urey Prize: Brett Gladman 
Kuiper Prize: Eberhard Grun 
Masursky Award: no award (there were no nominations) 
Sagan Medal: Heidi Hammel 

Press releases with more details will be available closer to the time 
the awards are to be presented.

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MEETING ANNOUNCEMENTS

1) Debris Disks and the Formation of Planets:
   A Symposium in Memory of Fred Gillett
   Thursday - Saturday, April 11-13, 2001,
   University Park Marriott, Tucson, Arizona
   http://www.noao.edu/meetings/gillett/

   Program outline:
   1. History of the discovery
   2. Progenitors
   3. Debris disks
   4. Descendants, and connection to the Solar System
   5. Prospects: observational and theoretica

2) Space Telescope Science Institute May Symposium
   ASTROPHYSICS OF LIFE
   May 6-9, 2002
   DEADLINE FOR EARLY REGISTRATION: April 8, 2002

   The goal of the symposium is to understand the astronomical and
   astrophysical foundations upon which searches for life in the 
   universe must be based, and which bear on the nature and origin 
   of life. Topics will include extrasolar planet searches and 
   properties, the physics of brown dwarfs, dust disks, star and 
   planet formation, interstellar and solar system chemistry, 
   galactic chemical evolution and dynamics, and cosmological 
   considerations. Our aim is to lay the astrophysical groundwork 
   for locating habitable places in the Universe. New astronomical 
   mission concepts will also be an important element of the 
   conference.

   For more information contact: Quindairian Gryce, Symposium 
   Coordinator, STScI, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218
   Tel: (410)338-4970
   e-mail: gryce@stsci.edu

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CONDOLENCE INFORMATION FOR MAYO GREENBERG

For those who would like to send a condolence note to Mayo Greenberg's
widow, her address is 

Naomi Greenberg 
Morsweg 44 
2312 AE Leiden 
The Netherlands.

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                             Melissa McGrath, DPS Secretary-Treasurer
                                    submissions to: mcgrath@stsci.edu