Casey Dreier's blogs from 2013
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 9: The Lives of the Stars
In which we are star stuff
This episode highlights the other big idea in Cosmos: that we are profoundly connected with the universe around us. Our constituent parts are forged in the bellies of massive stars; we exist through their deaths.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 8: Journeys Through Space and Time
Are we imprisoned in both?
Sagan makes us confront the limitations of our mortality given the immensities of space and time presented to us by the cosmos.
Top NASA Scientists Grapple with Budget Cuts
A struggle to keep new missions coming
Ellen Stofan, NASA's Chief Scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the head of the Science Mission Directorate and a Hubble repair astronaut, highlighted recent NASA science discoveries at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
If you want to know why Cassini might be terminated early, or why NASA pulled out of its joint Mars mission with Europe, or why the new ASRG power source was put on indefinite hold, this chart has your answer.
What's Going on With Planetary Science Research?
Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists
Budget cuts mixed with a new way to fund science could disproportionately impact the next generation of planetary scientists.
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/04 10:57 CST
Voyager Chief Scientist Ed Stone was the featured guest on the Colbert Report to celebrate the spacecraft's entry into interstellar space.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 7: The Backbone of Night
In which we return to cosmos
We return to the big idea of the series – that the universe can be known and we better ourselves in our efforts to understand it – in the best episode of Cosmos so far.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 6: Travellers' Tales
Voyager is the ultimate expression of our desire to explore
The Voyager mission may be the ultimate expression of our desire to explore, but why does that will exist in the first place? Why is it unique to humans?
NASA Just Cancelled its Advanced Spacecraft Power Program
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator was to use less Plutonium for cheaper missions.
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Program (ASRG) was just cancelled by NASA. This was to be the saving grace for Plutonium-238 availability, as it was a much more efficient way to generate electricity than classic RTG systems.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 5: Blues for a Red Planet
Where Mars stubbornly refuses to be what we desire
Episode 5 focuses on Mars, the planet that has stubbornly refused to conform to the wishes of humanity for hundreds of years, from Lowell to Sagan. Grab your cosmo and join our discussion of 'Blues for a Red Planet.'
We Need You to Stand Up for Planetary Exploration
Right now is a crucial time for future funding
Congress and the White House are making decisions that impact funding for NASA's Planetary Exploration missions. We need to tell them that YES we are paying attention and care about the future of exploration.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 4: Heaven & Hell
In which face the consequences of our own knowledge
Humans face the consequences of our own knowledge about the cosmos in this latest episode recap and analysis of Carl Sagan's classic series.
Power From the Isotopes
The United States is trying to generate plutonium fuel for the first time in 25 years. Will it succeed?
We report on the current state of Plutonium-238 production in the United States, a crucial fuel source for planetary exploration spacecraft.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 3: The Harmony of the Worlds
In which Mars changes the course of human history
We continue our analysis of Cosmos as we jump back in time to see the birth of modern science with Johannes Kepler or, as Sagan calls it, the first fusion of "imagination with observation." Welcome to Episode 3: The Harmony of the Worlds.
Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 2: One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue
In which we are connected to all living things
In episode 2 we switch from cosmos to microcosm and discover how we are connected to all living things. Is Sagan too authoritative in this episode? Plus, a major error in one of the stories.
Cosmos With Cosmos Episode 1: The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean
In which Sagan puts us in our place (between immensity and eternity)
We face immensity and a taste of things to come in the first episode of Cosmos, but we're also provided with the tools to comprehend our own place within the universe.
Introducing Cosmos with Cosmos
Let's Grab a Drink and Watch Cosmos Together
Let's grab a drink and watch the original Cosmos together. We'll provide write-ups and discussion every week through the entire original series. Get together with your friends!
NASA's MAVEN Mission Spared from Shutdown
Launch preparations will resume
Launch preparations will resume for NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, due to launch to Mars on November 18th. Work had previously been suspended, potentially causing the spacecraft to miss its once-every-26-month launch opportunity.
We interview Dr. Franck Marchis from the SETI Institute about nanosats that can unfold in space to create sensitive telescopes that are orders of magnitudes cheaper than current hardware.
NASA confirmed that a government shutdown could affect pre-launch processing of the MAVEN spacecraft, currently scheduled to launch to Mars on November 18th.
Plutonium-238 is Crucial for Space Exploration – and it's Running Out
The Planetary Society works to maintain plutonium availability for deep space missions
Plutonium-238 provides electricity to deep space missions, but NASA only has a little bit left. A new article in Wired highlights the disastrous consequences of no plutonium for use in space, something the Planetary Society is currently fighting for in Washington, D.C.
The Energy Department is Full of Hugely Wasteful Spending, But Can't Afford to Make Plutonium for NASA
Congressional Energy Committees Should Focus More On Waste, Less on Making NASA Pay
A recent report shows that major programs within the Department of Energy are billions of dollars over budget due to lax oversight, yet the congressional committees responsible for the Department
A recent article in the NY Times Sunday Magazine highlights how the pernicious myth of NASA as wasteful spending perpetuates through our culture.
A Division of Planetary Science
When Scientists Can't Agree on Priorities, Should Politicians Listen?
When scientists can't agree on priorities, will politicians listen? A reflection on a recent public policy session from the European Planetary Science Congress in London.
NASA's Europa Mission Concept Rejects ASRGs -- May Use Solar Panels at Jupiter Instead
Untested technology is too risky
The Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG) is no longer an option for powering a potential Europa mission. The ASRG uses Plutonium-238 to generate electricity, but is far more efficient than past RTGs.
NASA Backs Off From Additional Planetary Cuts in 2013
Operating plan provides $1.271 billion
The final operating plan for the space agency provided $75 million more to planetary exploration than initially proposed.
The Planetary Society is "making a difference" in the space industry, according to SpaceNews, the world's leading newspaper covering the space business.
August Advocacy Update: Where We Stand
The House and Senate have increased funding for Planetary Science thanks to your letters and phone calls
Planetary exploration sees strong support from both parties in the current budget process, but we have a long way to go before a budget is passed this year.
It seems like it was just yesterday that 2000 people gathered in the Pasadena Convention Center to celebrate Curiosity's landing on Mars. All of Planetfest 2012 is online for your enjoyment.
TODAY at 4pm PDT: Google+ Hangout, Celebrate Curiosity's First Year on Mars with Deputy Scientist Ashwin Vasavada
Monday, Aug 5th at 4pm PDT/7pm EDT
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/08/05 12:00 CDT
It was just one year ago that Curiosity had her dramatic landing on the surface of Mars. Emily Lakdawalla and I will interview the Deputy Project Scientist of the Curiosity mission, Ashwin Vasavada, about the successes of the past year and the what to look forward to in the next
The government employee responsible for the proposed restructuring of all STEM programs in 2014 has been identified by the journal Science. The initiative faces resistance from both Congress and the scientific community, who feel that they were not consulted during the decision making process.
Remembering the Pluto Campaign: A Success Story
The Society Worked for Years to Help Launch a Mission to Pluto
The New Horizons mission to Pluto survived many near-death encounters with cancellation during its development. The Planetary Society worked the whole time to ensure it would launch.
Congress Rejects NASA's First Operating Plan
Attempt to Raid Planetary Science Funding Stopped
NASA's plan to raid Planetary Science funding to pay for sequester cuts in other science programs was rejected by Congress earlier this month. NASA is now working on a new plan that has yet to be submitted for approval.
This budget, if enacted, would be the smallest budget NASA has seen since the mid '80s, when adjusted for inflation.
NASA Administrator Bolden and the Chairman of the House Science Committee published opposing op-eds in The Hill newspaper today, illustrating the uphill battle NASA faces to sell Congress on this mission.
We Need Space-Based Detection of Threats, but NASA Shouldn't Pay for It
Reports from the AGU's Science Policy Conference
Early detection is a crucial step in preventing or mitigating threats from space, but it's not NASA's job.
If we started today, how long would it take to get to Mars? With this budget, never.
Analysis of the House Science Committee Hearing on the 2013 NASA Authorization Bill
The House of Representatives held a hearing today to discuss their proposed NASA authorization bill, which would fund Planetary Science, cut Earth Science, forbid asteroid retrieval, and command NASA to pursue a path to Mars via the Moon.
Planetary Society Hangout: LaserBees, Asteroids, and Planet Vacuums
Thursday, Jun 13, noon PDT/1900 UTC
We check in with Dr. Bruce Betts, our Director of Projects, on the latest from our current programs funded by our members.
Despite congressional rejection of massive cuts to Planetary Science this year, NASA has found a way to implement the cuts internally and use the money for other purposes.
When we visit Congress, this is what we leave them with. This one page summarizes the entire threat to continued planetary exploration at NASA in the proposed 2014 budget.
NASA Administrator Highlights Advanced Propulsion Systems at JPL
An ion engine will be used on the proposed asteroid retrieval mission
Charles Bolden stopped by JPL to highlight research being done on advanced propulsion techniques that would be used in the proposed asteroid retrieval mission.
Planetary Society Hangout: Advocacy Update
Thursday, May 23, 1:30 PDT / 4:30 PDT / 20:30 UTC
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/05/23 11:40 CDT
The Planetary Society just returned from a major political advocacy trip out to D.C. what did we do and what did we achieve? What's going on with the current funding situation regarding Planetary Science and NASA at large? How does the asteroid retrieval mission help or hurt planetary exploration goals? What's the larger plan and what are the consequences if cuts continue?
Planetary Science Echoes Through the Halls of Congress
We traveled to D.C. to advocate for continued planetary exploration at NASA
The Planetary Society just returned from a big trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for continued planetary exploration. Here's what happened.
Planetary Society Hangout: A Day in the Life of the Opportunity Rover with Emily Dean
Thursday, May 9, at noon PDT/1900h UTC
Thursday, May 9th, at noon PDT/3pm EDT/1900h UTC, we are joined by Emily Dean, who works on the camera team for the Opportunity rover on Mars.
We're storming D.C. next week to raise awareness of continued cuts to NASA's Planetary Science Division.
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/04/30 01:38 CDT
The AAS made a strong critique of proposed cuts to NASA's Planetary Science program today.
Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: 2014 NASA Budget Update and Planetary Defense Conference Recap
Thursday, Apr 25, at noon PDT/1900h UTC
We take your questions on the 2014 NASA Budget, the Planetary Defense Conference, and Mars One.
Congress meets this week to discuss the 2014 NASA budget. We need as many people to reach out as possible so Planetary Science is on the agenda.
A powerful new op-ed in SpaceNews traces the inevitable decline of NASA's Planetary Science missions if the current cuts to the program are implemented.
NASA went on an unusual tweet-binge praising planetary science today, saying that the struggling division "thrives" and highlighting various missions mainly developed in better times. NASA made five tweets in a row about planetary science over the course of two hours.
NASA's new budget doubles down on cuts to Planetary Science, despite Congress rejecting a similar proposal last year.
Despite a $223 million boost from Congress this year, NASA's Planetary Science Division may not be allowed to use that money so NASA can prevent cuts in other programs.
Live in Vienna? Attending EGU? I'll be covering the conference next week for the Society.
Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Programming in the Sciences
Thursday, Apr 4th at noon PDT/1900 UTC
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/04/03 02:30 CDT
Thursday, Apr 4th at noon PDT/1900 UTC we continue our weekly Live Hangouts. Join us this week with Chase Million, founder of Million Concepts, a company devoted to providing high-quality code to scientists.
What's Going On with NASA Education and Public Outreach?
Sequestration claims its next victim at NASA.
Sequestration claims its next victim at NASA, as all Education and Public Outreach activities are suspended until further review.
[Updated] Senate Bill Restores $223 million to NASA's Planetary Science Division
A step in the positive direction, but far from certain
The President signed the Senate's bill to fund the government for the remainder of 2013, and it includes some positive news for NASA's Planetary Science division, which is facing a 21% cut.
A Victory for Exploration
Planetary Science Funding is Restored for 2013
We celebrate success as Congress passes a bill that restores funding to NASA's Planetary Science program, allowing for more missions, begins a mission to Europa, and funds Plutonium fuel development.
Sequestration Claims its First Victim at NASA
Conference travel and participation severely restricted
The first major effects of Sequestration were felt at NASA yesterday, with new rules severely restricting travel and scientific conference attendance by NASA scientists and contractors.
Rep. Adam Schiff's response to the state of Planetary Science funding from his recent online town hall.
Planetary Society Hangout: March 7th, 2013 - What's Going On With Curiosity and a NASA Budget Update
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT we check in with Emily Lakdawalla to bring us up to speed with Curiosity's computer problems and we check in on NASA's budget status.
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/03/05 06:53 CST
Rep. Adam Schiff is holding an online town hall on Wednesday, March 6th at 2:30pm PST. If you live in his district, it is a great time to ask about the status of Planetary Science funding on Twitter or his Facebook page.
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/03/04 07:54 CST
The U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their new funding bill for the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, which funds NASA at 2012 levels with the exception of its SLS and Commercial Crew programs.
Reporting from NASA's Mars Exploration Program working group on the latest updates in scientific exploration of the red planet.
Planetary Society Hangout Thursday, Feb 21st at noon PST. The Sequester at NASA with Jon Morse
Thursday, Feb 21st, at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT
How will the Sequester effect NASA? Dr. Jon Morse, former Director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA, will help us understand the cuts, the process, and the hard decisions being made right now.
Brand new information about the effects of the across-the-board cuts known as Sequestration, if they were to be enacted.
Bobak "Mohawk Guy" Ferdowsi of JPL will join First Lady Michelle Obama as a guest at today's State of the Union address.
Join us this week as we feature our guest, Dr. Paul Hayne from JPL. Dr. Hayne studies snow and ice on Mars, extreme temperatures of the Moon, and is on the Cassini science team. He also founded the group Young Scientists for Planetary Exploration to help organize early-career scientists to be aware of the politics of space.
Tell Us How Planetary Science Is Cheap, Be Entered to Win
Send us your comparisons of the price of planetary science to...anything
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/02/06 07:03 CST
Submit an entry comparing the cost of Planetary Science at NASA to...anything. You'll be entered to win a prize. Exploring the solar system costs less than many people think, let's give everyone food for thought.
A New Statement on NASA's 2020 Rover Mission
A collaborative effort with various scientific organizations to emphasize a balanced program of exploration
The Planetary Society remains committed to a balanced program of solar system exploration, with Mars, outer planets, and small missions all playing an important part.
Advocacy Update: The Society Traveled to Washington
We continue the push to restore funding for Planetary Science at NASA
The Planetary Society makes another visit to Capitol Hill to advocate for Planetary Science funding at NASA.
Planetary Society Hangout: Jan 24th, 2013 - Hunting Asteroids with Gary Hug
Thursday at noon PST/3pm EST/20:00 UT
Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/01/24 12:00 CST
Gary Hug is an asteroid hunter. He scans the skies every night looking for new near-Earth objects and refining orbital measurements for existing ones. Join Casey Dreier and Dr. Bruce Betts as they interview Gary Hug about his work and his recent discovery of a new NEO on January 7th.
Planetary Society Hangout: Jan 17th, 2013 - Drilling on Mars with Joel Hurowitz
Thursday, Jan 17th, at noon PST/2000 UT
Join Emily Lakdawalla and Joel Hurowitz of the MSL Curiosity sample acquisition team to talk about the upcoming "first drill" by the martian rover.
The Astronomy Budget Squeeze
It's not just NASA. All of space science feels the pinch of smaller budgets.
It's not just the Planetary Sciences division within NASA that's under harsh budgetary times. The NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences is facing a choice between funding scientists and funding telescopes. A report from the 221st AAS meeting in Long Beach.
Space rarely makes a strong showing in national elections, despite the major state of transition NASA finds itself in today.
Help us catalog and source statements made by candidates referring to civil space issues.