Wednesday, January 11, 2006

News from the AAS -- Day Two

Yesterday was the second day of the Winter Meeting of the American Astronomical Society. As always, exciting science continued to roll out, including press releases on measurements of the shape of the bright star Vega (it is spinning so fast that it is detectably flattened instead of purely round, like our sun) and evidence that supermassive black holes grow from the merging of galaxies.

The biggest news of the day was NASA chief Michael Griffin's speech to the society. In his speech, Griffin spoke of the difficulties of balancing both science and manned exploration given the limited budget of NASA. Griffin also awarded the late Dr. John Bahcall NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement medal in honor of Bahcall's efforts to make the Hubble Space Telescope a reality. Finally, Griffin reiterated that NASA wants to send a space shuttle to repair the Hubble Space Telescope, but that he could not promise that the mission will be ready in time to save Hubble.

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