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AAS ACTION ALERT 2004-02

SUMMARY

This Action Alert asks AAS members to quickly contact their

member of Congress and ask that he or she sign on as a co-sponsor to H. Res. 550, a bill entitled "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives relating to the extraordinary contributions resulting from the Hubble Space Telescope to scientific research and education, and to the need to reconsider future service missions to the Hubble Space Telescope."

BACKGROUND

The AAS has issued a policy statement endorsing an independent review of the decision to cancel future servicing missions to the Hubble Space Telescope, a viewpoint initially motivated by the action of Senator Barbara Mikulski.

On March 3, Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a bill essentially along the lines of the AAS policy position, namely, to have an independent review of the decision.

The bill (included in its entirety below) includes a structure for such a review and a timeline for the review.

As of today, only seven (7) co-sponsors are on the bill. Many more will be needed if it has a chance of passing.

Congressman Udall's remarks upon introducing the bill can be found on the Library of Congress' Thomas website using the following link: http://thomas.loc.gov.

ACTION REQUESTED

AAS members are asked to write their member of the House of Representatives and request that they become co-sponsors of this bill and that they get their colleagues to become co-sponsors as well. Any AAS member making visits to the
hill in the next several weeks should directly ask any office they visit to be come a co-sponsor. Additionally, thank-you letters to Congressman Udall would be very
useful.

AAS members may look up their member of Congress using the AAS Zip-To-It feature available at: www.aas.org/policy/aas.bios.html

Please call or FAX a short note (sample below). Letters will not arrive in time to do much good on this issue.

Sidney Wolff, Chair, Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy and Kevin B. Marvel, Deputy Executive Officer

SAMPLE FAX NOTE

Dear Congressman Satellite,

I am writing to ask that you co-sponsor H.Res. 550, a bill which is very important to me personally and to the nationwide astronomy community.

The bill expresses the sense of the House of Representatives relating to the extraordinary contributions resulting from the Hubble Space Telescope to scientific research and education, and to the need to reconsider future service missions to the Hubble Space Telescope.

I and my Society, the American Astronomical Society, representing more than 5000 US-based astronomers strongly supports this resolution and I hope you will as well.

Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate contacting me.

Sincerely,

Dr. Stahrs R. Twinklin, Eastern Reserve State
Technological College


Text of HR 550 as Submitted

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has inspired a generation of Americans with its scientific achievements. Since its launch in 1990, HST has explored the Universe, ranging from our own solar system to the most distant galaxies. In the eyes of the public as well as in the judgment of professional astronomers, both nationally and internationally, HST represents the finest of the countless contributions the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is making to science. While the American Astronomical Society places paramount importance on astronaut safety, the astronomy community deeply regrets the cancellation of future servicing missions at a time when HST continues to make fundamental discoveries at an undiminished rate.

Thus, the AAS supports the congressional call for an independent panel of outside experts to review the decision to limit prematurely the lifespan of the Hubble Space Telescope. Such a decision must consider all possible options for accomplishing the servicing mission and must also be widely understood. We hope that such a review panel can be convened in a timely manner and its work completed quickly. We urge that any process to reconsider the decision to cancel Servicing Mission 4 include as one of the considerations the future scientific contributions afforded by HST. These are outlined in part by the HST-JWST Transition Panel Report.

We further note that sustained HST operations are essential to reap the full benefits of NASA's other Great Observatories in space, the Chandra X-ray Telescope, launched in 1999, and the Spitzer Infrared Telescope, launched just a few months ago.

Only if HST operates at full capability through 2009 do we have the opportunity to take advantage of the scientific synergy of these three Great Observatories, examining astronomical sources across the electromagnetic spectrum in X-ray, visual, ultraviolet and infrared light.

The Hubble Space Telescope is an international treasure that has inspired the people of America and the world for nearly 15 years. Its impact, not only on science, but on the dreams and imagination of our young people, cannot be overstated.
___________________________________________________________

AAS Action Alert 2004-02
[Mailed to US members from aas.org at 10:15am 5 MARCH 2004]

To read previous AAS Informational Emails visit www.aas.org/policy/InformationalEmails.html
To read previous AAS Action Alerts visit www.aas.org/policy/ActionAlerts.html
Comments and questions to: marvel@aas.org
Changes of address to: address@aas.org

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