Dr. Colleen Hartman, Director of Solar System Exploration at NASA, has
issued a Dear Colleague letter revising NASA’s earlier decision and has
restored funding for radar astronomy at Arecibo for the current fiscal
year. Her letter is quoted below:

Dear Colleague,

After five years without any increase for inflation, the Supporting
Research and Technology (SR&T) Programs of NASA’s Office of Space
Science have secured a modest FY 02 increase. This increase, while
welcome and necessary, cannot undo the effects of the previous period
of static funding.

The current budget for the Near Earth Objects Observations (NEOO)
program faces some especially difficult choices. Out of the entire FY
02 NEOO budget of $3.55M, a full $3M is committed to Search and
Follow-up observational programs designed to discover large NEOs or
to obtain follow-up astrometry of these objects (to improve our
knowledge of their orbits). This priority responds to a Congressional
imperative that the detection rate of Earth-orbit “crossing asteroids
must be increased substantially” (HR Report 105-610, 105th Congress
2d session. p. 30,1990), and to NASA’s own 1998 commitment to
achieving the goal of detecting and cataloging 90% of NEOs larger
than 1 km in diameter within ten years”

S-band radar planetary observation efforts at Arecibo remain a
valuable part of this commitment, and will continue to be funded with
$400K in FY 02. That support includes the cost of turbine fuel,
observation planning and operation of the S-band radar system, as
well as ephemerides predictions.

In order to bring these efforts into line with other elements of the
NEOO program, Arecibo’s S-band radar observations will be subject
from now on to peer-review evaluation. Discussions will also be held
with the National Science Foundation to determine whether that agency
might provide additional funding for these observations.

Dr. Colleen N. Hartman

Director, Solar System Exploration

Office of Space Science

The DPS applauds this action and is grateful for the restoration of this
most important program. The DPS is also highly supportive of Dr. Hartman’s
suggestion to broaden the support base for ground-based radar astronomy
with the NSF.

The DPS is the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to the
exploration of the solar system.


Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.

DPS Chair



Dr. Richard P. Binzel

DPS Vice-Chair

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