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Government Agencies Are Getting Nervous

By Keith Cowing on January 24, 2017 9:35 AM.

USDA Scientists Have Been Put On Lockdown Under Trump, Buzzfeed

"The US Department of Agriculture has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned. According to an email sent Monday morning and obtained by BuzzFeed News, the department told staff - including some 2,000 scientists - at the agency's main in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), to stop communicating with the public about taxpayer-funded work. "Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents," Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for ARS, wrote in a department-wide email shared with BuzzFeed News."

EPA Freezes Grants, Tells Employees Not To Talk About It, Sources Say, Huffington Post

"The Environmental Protection Agency has frozen its grant programs, according to sources there. EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants - an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things - and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation. An EPA staffer provided the information to the congressional office anonymously, fearing retaliation. It's unclear whether the freeze is indefinite or temporary as the agency transitions fully to the Trump administration; the Senate has not yet confirmed Trump's pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. It's also not clear the immediate impact the grant freeze would have on programs across the country, since EPA grants are distributed at varying intervals and frequency."


NASA Leadership Changes Underway?

By Keith Cowing on January 24, 2017 7:47 AM.


Is This How We Will Get Our Official Science News?

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 10:10 PM.

Republicans defend Trump on media coverage, The Hill

"But that didn't stop House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) from taking the House floor Monday night to claim the media would cover Trump differently if he weren't a Republican. ... Smith said. "No, the national liberal media won't print that or air it or post it. Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth," he concluded. Smith delivers House floor speeches at least once a week criticizing the mainstream media. Earlier this month, he denounced a New York Times column describing the impact of droughts in Africa believed to be exacerbated by climate change as "fake news."

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Reading The TrumpSpace Tea Leaves

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 5:08 PM.

President Trump and science: 10 things to look for (and fear?), Science

"Whither space exploration? Space was never a front-burner issue for the Obama administration, and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden was generally viewed as at best a cheerleader for policies on human and robotic exploration that were poorly articulated and never adequately funded. Does Trump have a more muscular vision? Is "unlocking the mysteries of space" a tacit endorsement of what some influential Republicans hope will be a costly robotic mission to find life on a watery moon of Jupiter? Does it presage astronauts returning to the moon? And what will be his administration's stance on commercial space ventures?"

Obama's NASA made strides on commercial space, but stumbled on exploration, The Verge

"During the presidential campaign, advisors to President-elect Trump expressed praise for the focus on public-private partnerships in space. However, those same advisors hinted that all of Obama's efforts in strengthening NASA's Earth Science division may be undone, and that all of the space agency's climate missions may be transferred to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."


Government Agencies Are Nervous About All That Climate Stuff

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 4:01 PM.

CDC quietly cancels long-planned climate summit, EENews

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention quietly and abruptly canceled a major climate change summit scheduled for next month shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, according to emails sent to those scheduled to speak and obtained by E&E News. The Climate and Health Summit was scheduled to be held in Atlanta, where the CDC is headquartered, in February. Agency leaders did not directly address why the summit was canceled and instead forwarded an email sent to participants indicating it may be rescheduled. "We are currently exploring options so that the Summit may take place later in the year," CDC officials wrote."

National Academy President McNutt Addresses Anxieties in Scientific Community, AIP

"Asked about concerns that the next administration could violate principles of scientific integrity at the federal agencies, or even delete federal climate change datasets, McNutt replied: "There are protections in place through government data integrity and scientific integrity acts that would, if [these data suddenly disappeared,] would say, 'Hold it. That is not allowed. This data has to come back online.' ... It would take, in my view, an incredible coordinated move to delete all copies of...climate data. On the other hand, I don't see any reason why, if people want to copy this data and back it up one more time, that it's something they shouldn't do."

Trump's next move? Scientists struggle with foggy future, Nature

"In the science community there have been alarm bells, reports that the president has already launched a war on science," says Tobin Smith, vice-president for policy at the Association for American Universities in Washington DC. "I think it's way too premature to draw that conclusion."

Hackers downloaded US government climate data and stored it on European servers as Trump was being inaugurated, Quartz

"Many of the programmers who showed up at UCLA for the event had day jobs as IT consultants or data managers at startups; others were undergrad computer science majors. The scientists in attendance, including ecologists, lab managers, and oceanographers, came from universities all over Southern California. A motley crew of data enthusiasts who assemble for projects like this is becoming something of a trend at universities across the country: Volunteer "data rescue" events in Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Michigan over the last few weeks have managed to scrape hundreds of thousands of pages off of,,, and, uploading them to the Internet Archive. Another is planned for early February at New York University."

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David Radzanowski Is The Guy Who Made Things Work At NASA

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 2:21 PM.

Keith's note: Last week NASA HQ was told by the incoming Trump administration that they wanted Chief Financial Officer David Radzanowski to stay on for while after the Inauguration to help with the transition. Then the Trump people suddenly changed their minds and Dave was no longer a NASA employee at noon on Friday. As such Dave did not have a proper chance to say farewell to folks at NASA. Before he was CFO he was the NASA Chief of Staff. Dave is one of those people in government that most folks never hear of. He just did his job diligently without any arm waving and did it exceptionally well. Dave was absolutely vital to how NASA worked - especially when it worked well. Its too bad he was not able to have a proper send off. You done good, Dave.

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Is a Reduction In Force in NASA's Future?

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 1:18 PM.

Revenge of the bureaucrats, Politico

"The Trump personnel team led by Kay Coles James and Linda Springer, both also Bush alumni, has broad goals to reduce the size of domestic agencies while slightly bolstering the defense workforce, say sources close to the transition. Aides are also mulling a process, known as "reduction in force," that would allow the new administration to skirt the civil service's complicated rules for hiring and firing. The easiest way to make such reductions might be through budget cuts to each agency, which would be outlined in Trump's first budget proposal this spring."

Trump freezes hiring of many federal workers, Washington Post

"President Trump instituted a governmentwide hiring freeze Monday, signing an executive order that he said would affect all employees "except for the military."

How Trump Could Unravel Obama's Science Legacy, Scientific American

"The much-larger ranks of non-political 'career' employees, meanwhile, could shrink under Trump, who has pledged to freeze federal hiring within his first 100 days in office. Staffing levels at science agencies - which stayed relatively flat under Obama, despite his enthusiasm for research - could eventually dwindle by attrition."

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Is SpaceX Trump's Favorite Rocket Company?

By Keith Cowing on January 23, 2017 10:22 AM.


NASA Headquarters Transition Update - New 9th Floor Faces

By Keith Cowing on January 22, 2017 2:22 PM.

Trump Names Former Climate Scientist Erik Noble to NASA Advisory Role, Wired

"Trump named Autry his White House liaison, a role NASA Watch editor Keith Cowing calls "traditional" - and Noble his White House senior advisor at NASA. That's less typical. "Does that mean he's at NASA, or is he just another liason?" Cowing says. "My guess is these guys are two peas in a pod." Which is to say, they'll probably work together to maintain open lines of communication between the space agency and the Oval Office. ... Will these appointees help Trump on his mission to unlock the secrets of space? "Neither of these guys dropped out the sky," Cowing says. "They both know what NASA means, at least." Noble, White House Senior Advisor at NASA

- Political Data Analyst - Trump Data and Voter Outreach Team, Donald J. Trump For President, Inc.
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Atmospheric Science, The City College of New York
- Scientist, Atmospheric Science, NASA January 2007 December 2013 (7 years) New York, NY
- University of Colorado at Boulder, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Environmental Studies: focus on Atmospheric Sciences Autry, White House Liaison

- Assistant Prof. Clinical Entrepreneurship, USC. Space industry expert. Entrepreneur. Writer.
- Member of the Editorial Board, New Space Journal
- Research Lead, Commercial Space Group, AIAA
- Producer, Death By China - Film
- Senior Economist, Coalition for a Prosperous America

Confusing Celestial and Terrestrial Imagery

By Keith Cowing on January 21, 2017 6:02 PM.


Will There Be New Government Social Media Content Guidelines?

By Keith Cowing on January 21, 2017 2:37 PM.

Interior Department reactivates Twitter accounts after shutdown following inauguration, Washington Post

"The Interior Department reactivated its official Twitter accounts early Saturday after an abrupt shutdown following two shares of tweets that were unsympathetic to President Trump during his inauguration. Thomas Crosson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, the Interior agency whose employee retweeted the offending tweets, said the action was "inconsistent with the agency's approach to engaging the public through social media." "The Department of Interior's communications team determined that it was important to stand down Twitter activity across the Department temporarily, except in the case of public safety," Crosson said in an email. "Now that social media guidance has been clarified, the Department and its bureaus should resume Twitter engagement as normal this weekend." With one exception, Crosson said: No social media posts on the policy priorities of the new Interior secretary, because Trump nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) has not yet been confirmed. It's safe to assume that the Park Service won't be estimating the crowd size of Saturday's Women's March on Twitter."

Keith's note: This is troubling. I wonder if similar action will be taken against @NOAA and @NASA for posting all of these tweets regarding recent scientific studies about the scope, scale, and causes of global climate change.


The First TrumpSpace Launch

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2017 7:38 PM.

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NASA Headquarters Transition Update

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2017 2:14 PM.

Message from the Acting Administrator of NASA

"As the transition progresses, we have some initial assignments from the new administration. Erik Noble has been named White House Senior Advisor at NASA. Greg Autry, who was with the Agency Review Team, has been named White House Liaison. I know you will all join me in giving them a warm welcome to the NASA family and thanking them for becoming part of this great agency. There will be other new and familiar faces arriving at Headquarters, and we will communicate with you as often as possible to keep you apprised of those developments."


An Evolving Strategy For SpaceX?

By Keith Cowing on January 20, 2017 10:50 AM.

Elon Musk's surprising secret weapon: Trump?, CNN

"In recent weeks, the Tesla (TSLA) and SpaceX CEO has been named to Trump's team of business advisers and visited Trump Tower twice. The first time he was part of a big meeting with tech CEOs; the second came earlier this month for a private meeting with Trump's top aides. The blossoming relationship between Musk and Trump's camp has caught the attention of Tesla investors. "Elon Musk has an important line of communication to Donald Trump through his role as a strategic advisor to the President-elect," Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, wrote in an investor note Thursday. "We believe this level of coordination with the new administration could actually evolve into greater strategic value than with the prior administration," Jonas added. While the investor note was specifically about Tesla, it could also apply to SpaceX, which has lucrative government contracts for space shipments."


Trump Budget Forecast For NASA? Gloomy

By Keith Cowing on January 19, 2017 7:49 PM.

Trump team prepares dramatic cuts, The Hill

"The changes they propose are dramatic. The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations. Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump's team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years."

Trump reportedly wants to cut cultural programs that make up 0.02 percent of federal spending, Washington Post

"For example, about half of the government's discretionary spending is on the military. Cutting all discretionary spending each year means cutting all funding for the military, which is both politically and rationally a nonstarter. The formulas for how much is spent on the non-discretionary spending can be adjusted, but Trump has pledged not to cut spending on the so-called "entitlement" programs."

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NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 January 2017

NASA International Space Station On-Orbit Status 20 January 2017 Video in Story

The International Space Station residents are wrapping up their work week today installing and checking science communications gear. The Expedition 50 crew is also continuing to explore how long-term space flight affects eyesight.

More updates...