Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Case for SIM

   I authored an online article that appeared on the "Space Review" website recently.  It can be found here-

SIM and the "Ready, Aim, Aim" Syndrome

  In addition, Paul Gilster, on his "Centauri Dreams" web site, wrote an excellent article about SIM and my Space Review essay.  His contribution can be found here -    

Losing SIM: Thoughts on Exoplanet Strategy

   To the readers of this blog, I ask you to submit comments on why we should proceed with SIM, as opposed to the advice from the Astro 2010 Decadal Survey.  There are many in the space community who agree with the conclusions of Astro 2010.  I am not one of those.  However, I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

My thoughts on this subject turn mainly to the aspect of "good faith."  The members of the SIM team have devoted anywhere from 10 to 20 years of their professional careers to the project.  I think that this "gamble" was taken by them because of the assumption of "good faith" on the part of NASA.  One doesn't lightly decide to make such an enormous commitment of time and career.  It is only by believing that NASA headquarters will follow through on their promise to proceed to launch that one can make that leap.  I think that NASA has now breached that "contract."  The SIM team has delivered on their end by designing a capable and elegant spacecraft.  They have done everything asked of them.  They should not be punished for the good work that they have accomplished.

1 comment:

  1. Science is a paradox. Its conclusions are reached through dispassionate sifting of observations versus models, but its motivation is entirely grounded in the romance of the chase and drive of wild dreams.

    With that bit of poetry aside, I think that one of the things that was (and remains) broken is the lack of continuity in the NASA administration. A mission can easily take 20 or 30 years to design, build, launch, and monitor. But an administration, at its luckiest, can only last 8 years. An incoming NASA administrator is mandated with his president's election promises, and that is where his accountability lies. Small wonder, then, that SIM was forgotten.

    I really think that that is the correct word. SIM was forgotten in the upper levels of NASA as the guard kept changing over and over. Pretty soon, the administrators were asking, "What is this SIM thing?" rather than asking "Why isn't SIM flying yet?"