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AAS Electronic Notification Service - Announcement #7

AAS Electronic Notification Service - Announcement #7


  1. Developments in Washington
  2. Space Sciences Working Group -- Outlook for Coming Year
  3. NRC Conducts Review of Gravity Probe-B
  4. House Committee Membership
  5. IAU Colloquium 156
  6. IAU Symposium 171


The AAS electronic announcement is mailed on the 10th of every month, and more often if news items are deemed by the Executive Officer to be sufficiently important.

Items for possible inclusion in this announcement series should be sent to Keep announcements short (no more than 250 words) and refer readers to sources of additional information.

Comments to



As the new Congress swings into action, more of the players are becoming known. The President's budget will be submitted to Congress on February 7. Factored into this budget is $60 billion in tax  reductions over the next five years. So far, the indications are that  FY 1996 will not be too bad for science and technology. If, indeed,  this comes to pass, it will be a good start. While Congress may claim that the budget is "dead on arrival," we should all be aware that it is a major job to develop a budget. In similar situations in the past, despite the Congressional rhetoric, many of the features of the President's budget have been adopted by Congress. I think we will see the same thing occur this year, at least for the NSF and NASA budget proposals.

The wild card in all this is the size of a tax cut which the Congress may mandate. If Congress decides upon a $200 billion cut, and still wants to balance the budget within the foreseeable future, the numbers suggest that all discretionary spending (including NASA and NSF) will have to be terminated. Obviously there are many intermediate paths, but the reality is that the final outcome of the science budget process this year will be dominated by major political and economic issues.

We will try to keep you abreast of the issues in capsule form, but you may want to sign up to receive the FYI announcements from AIP. You may subscribe to FYI using AIP's automated listserver. Send an e-mail message to "" and type "add fyi" as the body of your message.

Peter B. Boyce


The following excerpt is provided by the Space Science Working Group. Over the next month, we will be making these periodic notices available over the World Wide Web.

Glenn Mason, Chairman, Space Science Working Group

The new Congress has arrived in Washington, set up committees, and begun work at rapid pace. Although some new committee chairs, such as Rep. Robert Walker (R-PA) of the House Science Committee, have been making supportive statements about basic research, severe fiscal pressures are building. The House recently passed the Balanced Budget Amendment and, even if the Amendment is never adopted, its passage in the House and likely passage in the Senate is a very clear indicator of current thinking about government spending.

Last year, the Clinton Administration released a 5-year budgetary plan for NASA that kept the agency at a nearly constant level near $14 billion through FY99.  Thus, inflationary cost increases would have to be absorbed within the budget.  Since the November elections, the Clinton Administration has been generally searching for additional budgetary cuts, and the NASA flat spending plan may be further reduced. For example, a brief notice in Space News (Jan. 30) indicated that the White House had ordered NASA to reduce its budget by 9% to $12.6
billion by the end of the decade. While this particular item has not been confirmed publicly, it should serve us all as a reminder of potential problems for the agency.

In the maneuvering in the House over the Balanced Budget Amendment, it became clear that many newly elected members were much more aggressive in their desire to cut spending than House veterans. Thus, support for science by long-time members such as Robert Walker, while very important, are not necessarily going to be adopted by newer members.

In this atmosphere, it is essential that the space science community make its case to Congress -- especially the newly elected members. The interview with Robert Walker and Barbara Milkulski (which we will soon make available on the AAS WWW pages) can give you useful insights into the kinds of rationales that public policy makers are seeking. We suggest you contact
your representatives now to establish a relationship, and let them know why space science is important to you and their district or state.



At the request of the NASA Administrator, the Task Group on Gravity Probe-B has been formed under the aegis of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a review of the Stanford orbiting gyroscope experiment, the so-called Gravity Probe-B (GP-B) project. The prime objective of the GP-B experiment is to measure the frame dragging, the Lense-Thirring effect predicted by general relativity, to about 1%. The task group is chaired by Professor Val L. Fitch (Princeton University) and includes Prof. Eric G. Adelberger (University of Washington), Mr. Gerard W. Elverum, Jr. (TRW, retired), Mr. David G. Hoag (Draper Labs, retired), Prof. Francis Low (MIT), Dr. John C. Mather (Goddard Space Flight Center), Prof. Richard E. Packard (University of California, Berkeley), Prof. Robert C. Richardson (Cornell), Prof. Stuart L. Shapiro (Cornell), Prof. Mark W. Strovink (LBL), Prof. Joseph H. Taylor (Princeton) and Prof. Clifford M. Will (Washington University).

The committee is asked to address three issues.
1) Scientific importance--including a current assessment of the value of the project in the context of recent progress in gravitational physics and relevant technology.
2) Technical feasibility--the technical approach will be evaluated for likelihood of success, both in terms of achievement of flight mission objectives but also in terms of scientific conclusiveness of the various possible outcomes for the measurements to be made.
3) Competitive value--if possible, GP-B science will be assessed qualitatively against objectives and accomplishments of one or more fundamental physics projects of similar cost (e.g. the Cosmic Background Explorer-COBE). In view of the complexities of the issues involved and the cost of the project (about 40% of the total has already been spent in development)
the committee is soliciting comments and suggestions which would be helpful in its deliberations. Since the committee's deliberations will be completed in early March, e-mail comments should be directed as soon as possible to


4. House Committee Membership from AIP's FYI mailings



Chair, Rep. Robert Walker (R-PA)
Ranking Minority Member, George Brown (D-CA)

The new Science Committee's jurisdiction was increased. It keeps its current responsibilities and takes over energy research and development from the old House Energy and
Commerce Committee formerly chaired by Rep. John Dingell (D-Michigan.)

The House Science Committee is the authorizing committee for the federal government's science and technology policies and programs. (An authorizing committee approves federal programs, but does not fund them.) Agencies under its jurisdiction in the 104th Congress include OSTP, OTA, NSF, NASA, NIST, and the Department of Energy's non-military R&D programs. The committee has been reduced from five subcommittees to four: Basic Research, Energy and Environment, Space and Aeronautics, and Technology. (Note: The full Committee Chairman and Ranking Democratic Member are ex-officio members of each subcommittee.)


Republicans: Democrats:

Steven Schiff (NM), Chair Pete Geren (TX), ranking
Sherwood Boehlert (NY) Alcee Hastings (FL)
Joe Barton (TX) Lynn Rivers (MI)
Bill Baker (CA) Lloyd Doggett (TX)
Vernon Ehlers (MI) Bill Luther (MN)
Gil Gutknecht (MN) John Olver (MA)
Connie Morella (MD) Zoe Lofgren (CA)
Curt Weldon (PA) Mike Doyle (KY)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD) Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Zack Wamp (TN) vacancy
Dave Weldon (FL) vacancy
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Van Hilleary (TN)
Sue Myrick (NC)

Jurisdiction: "Legislative jurisdiction and general and special oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to science policy including: Office of Science and Technology Policy;
all scientific research, and scientific and engineering resources (including human resources), math, science and engineering education; intergovernmental mechanisms for research, development, and demonstration and cross-cutting programs; international scientific cooperation; National Science Foundation; university research policy, including infrastructure, overhead and partnerships; science scholarships; government-owned, contractor-operated non-military laboratories; computer, communications, and information science; earthquake and fire
research programs; research and development relating to health, biomedical, and nutritional programs; to the extent appropriate, agricultural, geological, biological and life sciences research;
and the Office of Technology Assessment."


Republicans: Democrats:

James Sensenbrenner (WI), Chair Ralph Hall (TX), ranking
Ken Calvert (CA) Jim Traficant (OH)
Dave Weldon (FL) Tim Roemer (IN)
Steve Stockman (TX) Bud Cramer (AL)
Andrea Seastrand (CA) James Barcia (MI)
Todd Tiahrt (KS) Jane Harman (CA)
Van Hilleary (TN) Sheila Jackson Lee (TX)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA) Alcee Hastings (FL)
Matt Salmon (AZ) Mike Ward (KY)
Thomas Davis (VA) Bill Luther (MN)
Steve Largent (OK)
Mark Foley (FL)

Jurisdiction: "Legislative jurisdiction and general and special oversight and investigative authority on all matters relating to astronautical and aeronautical research and development including:
national space policy, including access to space; sub-orbital access and applications; National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its contractor and government-operated
laboratories; space commercialization including the commercial space activities relating to the Department of Transportation and the Department of Commerce; exploration and use of outer space;  international space cooperation; National Space Council; space applications, space communications and related matters; and earth remote sensing policy."


Republican: Democrat:

Connie Morella (MD), Chair John Tanner (TN), ranking


Chair, Rep. Bob Livingston (R-Louisiana)

House VA, HUD, Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee
Chair, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-California)
This is the subcommittee responsible for funding NSF and NASA, as well as EPA, the Veterans' Administration, Housing and Urban Development, and numerous other federal programs. As has been true in the past, the chairman of an appropriations subcommittee has tremendous power over the funding for programs under his jurisdiction. Lewis and his Senate counterpart
(rumored to be Sen. Christopher Bond of Missouri) will be the major players in determining the fiscal year 1996 budgets for NSF and NASA. Lewis replaces Democrat Louis Stokes of Ohio, who now becomes the ranking minority member. The new subcommittee roster follows:

Republicans: Democrats:
Jerry Lewis (CA) Louis Stokes (OH)
Tom DeLay (TX) Alan Mollohan (WV)
Barbara Vucanovic (NV)* Jim Chapman (TX)
James Walsh (NY)* Marcy Kaptur (OH)
David Hobson (OH)*
Joe Knollenberg (MI)*
Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ)**
Mark Neumann (WI)**

*New Member of subcommittee
**New Member of Congress

5. IAU Colloquium 156 "The Collision of Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Jupiter
May 9-12, 1995 -- Baltimore, MD
Contact: Ms. Cheryl Schmidt (


6. IAU Symposium 171 "New Light on Galaxy Evolution"
June 26-30, 1995 -- Heidelberg, Germany