Statement of

Dr. Edward J. Weiler

Associate Administrator for Space Science
National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Before the

Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics
Committee on Science
House of Representatives

The mission of NASA’s Space Science Enterprise is to seek the answers to four fundamental questions:

· How did the Universe begin and evolve? 

· How did we get here? 

· Where are we going?

· Are we alone?

While these appear to be fairly straightforward questions, their answers have eluded humankind throughout the course of history.

Perhaps for the first time since we as humans began pondering the cosmos and our place in it, scientists stand poised to make the breakthrough discoveries
that are necessary in order to begin answering these questions.  With each space science mission NASA launches to study the planets, the stars, and other
celestial phenomena comes new and profound scientific discovery.  This scientific discovery is the key we need if we are to unlock some of the long-standing
secrets of our Universe.  Just looking at discoveries made in recent years, it is evident that the results of NASA’s space science missions are rewriting
textbooks and shattering long-held scientific beliefs.  The images we have captured of our Universe – beautiful, mysterious, and even volatile – have captured
the fascination of not only the science community, but of the general public worldwide.  In the last year alone, space science images graced the covers of
dozens of popular magazines and newspapers. 

As this Committee knows, the past year was not an easy one for Space Science. We had some difficult times, particularly with our Mars program, but I want to
stress that we also had a great abundance of success and our programs delivered a wealth of compelling science, including Mars science. 

The continuing scientific bounty from the Mars Global Surveyor was overshadowed – until recently –  by the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter and the Mars
Polar Lander.  The failures were a great disappointment to us scientifically; they also served as a wake-up call to take a long, hard look at our Mars Program. 
As part of this assessment, NASA convened several teams of experts to look at the Mars program from top to bottom.  The teams announced their findings a
few months ago.   NASA is now in the process of studying the reports and the recommendations they contain, and we expect to announce our proposed formal
strategy and implementation by the end of this summer.   However, I would like to tell you about some immediate steps we have taken in an effort to address
a few fundamental issues.

First of all, NASA has formed an Executive Planning Team to ensure communication among all key stakeholders and to define our future Mars program. 
Over the past few months, an intensive effort has been conducted to define the Mars 2003 mission.  In addition to the Executive Planning Team, three science
teams, five engineering study teams and a large group of external advisors and consultants were engaged to prepare and review the options for a possible Mars
2003 mission.  After reviewing more than 100 potential combinations for the 2003 mission, two potential options were identified: an orbiter similar to the
Mars Global Surveyor mission and a very capable rover packaged in a Mars Pathfinder-like landing system.  Both options were then reviewed extensively for
scientific and technical readiness.  NASA initially announced its decision to fly the rover mission for the Mars 2003 opportunity, and after careful
consideration, added a second, identical rover mission. Having two identical missions landing at different sites on the Martian surface will double the
scientific return of the 2003 opportunity; allow us to explore two geologically different regions where water may have flowed on Mars; and improve the overall
resiliency of the program at only one and a half times the cost of flying the single rover mission.

Second, NASA Headquarters and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory have instituted a number of management and process changes and have embarked on a
significant replanning of the Mars Program. We have reinforced the fact that Headquarters will provide program direction, establish budget profiles, and
define science requirements.  In order to provide clear leadership, NASA has appointed Mr. Scott Hubbard as the Mars Program Director at Headquarters.  He
reports directly to the Associate Administrator for Space Science and is the cognizant agency official for the entire Mars Program.  He has responsibility for
all Mars robotic missions from advanced technology development, through formulation and development, and into mission operations. 

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has named Dr. Firouz Naderi as the Mars Program Manager.  He will have full implementation responsibility at JPL to carry
out the requirements set by NASA Headquarters, such as overseeing studies, flight project development, and operations.  In addition, JPL has established a
Space Science Flight Projects organization so that all Mars projects will be conducted with a common set of project principles extending from the definition
phase through hardware delivery and launch.  An operations manager will be part of the project team from the beginning, so that there is management
continuity throughout the entire life-cycle of the project.

These are just a few examples of how we are taking action and responding to the recommendations.  Once this process is complete, we will announce our new
Mars program plan – probably at the end of the fall.  I am pleased with the progress that the Mars team has made, and I expect we will emerge from this
process stronger than ever.  We intend to do everything humanly possible to have a sound, robust program of Solar System exploration, including the
continuation of a newly restructured Mars program. 

Program Highlights

Now I would like to share with you some of the many successes that the Space Science Enterprise enjoyed over the past year.  

How ironic it is that the same Mars program that brought us such difficulty over the past year would also be the source of a landmark discovery in the history
of planetary exploration.  Scientists using imaging data from the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) recently observed features that suggest that there may be
current sources of water at or near the surface of the red planet.  The images show the smallest features ever observed from Martian orbit – approximately the
size of a sports utility vehicle.  NASA scientists compare these features to those left by flash floods here on Earth.

Almost thirty years ago, the Mariner 9 spacecraft found channels and valleys on the surface of Mars suggesting that billions of years ago, Mars had water
flowing across its surface.  Since then, scientists have pondered the question, ‘where did the water go?’.  This new discovery implies that some of the water
went underground and potentially is still there today.  The presence of liquid water on Mars has profound implications for the question of life not only in the
past, but perhaps even today.  If life ever did develop on Mars, and if it survives to the present time, then the recently discovered landforms would be likely
places to look for evidence.  We are closer than ever before in human history to answering the question of whether life exists elsewhere in the Universe.

MGS also provided data on the magnetization of the Martian crust that shed light on the earliest history of the planet and spectra that reveal much about the
crust’s composition.   I would like to focus on a specific MSG instrument, the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA).  This instrument determines the
topography of Mars by measuring the distance between the spacecraft and the surface hundreds of millions of times as MGS criss-crosses the planet.  This
incredible database means that we now know the topography of Mars better than we know many continental regions of Earth.  This new global map of Mars is
changing our fundamental understanding of the red planet and will likely influence scientific research of Mars for years to come.

One of the most exciting space science events of 1999 was the launch of the long-awaited Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO), formerly known as AXAF (the
Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility).  On July 23, 1999, the Space Shuttle Columbia, commanded by Colonel Eileen Collins, was launched on a mission to
carry the CXO, the third of NASA’s four Great Observatories, to a highly elliptical orbit in space.

The Great Observatories Program was designed to observe the Universe in four different electromagnetic spectral regions: visible, infrared, gamma ray, and
x-ray.  Chandra, which is studying the x-ray portion of the spectrum, joined two other Great Observatories already in orbit: the Hubble Space Telescope
(HST), which looks at the visible spectrum; and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), which as its name implies, has been studying the gamma ray
region. The fourth Great Observatory, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility (SIRTF), is scheduled to be launched in late 2001. 

With just a year of operation under its belt, Chandra is already unlocking mysteries of the x-ray Universe and delivering amazing images as well.  One
highlight in Chandra’s short history is that it recently resolved a 37-year old mystery: the origin of the diffuse x-ray background.

The diffuse x-ray background was originally discovered by the first x-ray rocket flight in 1967.  The whole sky glows bright in x-rays, but not until now have
we had the sharp imaging power to see if the glow is all due to unresolved individual point sources.   We now know that the glow is made up of discrete,
individually distinct sources.  These faraway sources include quasars, galaxies, and some mystery objects.  The mystery objects shine brightly in x-rays, but
fail to show up as counterparts in optical light.  Therefore, we have no idea as to their nature or distance, except that they are point-like sources of x-radiation.

In other Great Observatory news, the Hubble Space Telescope is back, and it is better than ever following the very successful STS-103 mission in December. 
From the beginning, Hubble was designed to be a serviceable spacecraft, so that as parts wore out or became obsolete, they could be upgraded and replaced to
keep the observatory in a state-of-the-art condition.  This recent mission marks the third time that astronaut crews have visited Hubble.  Thanks to close
working relationship forged between NASA’s space science and human space flight teams, all of the HST servicing missions have been remarkably
successful.  Over the past seven years, the astronauts have upgraded numerous systems on Hubble during 13 successful extra-vehicular activity sessions.  On
this particular mission, the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia installed new gyroscopes and a new computer and performed a host of other upgrades.  The
result is that HST is now more powerful and robust than at any other time in its ten-year history.  We still have two additional servicing missions planned,
one in 2001 and another in 2003, to make additional upgrades that will see Hubble through to the expected conclusion of its mission in 2010.

We have all grown accustomed to the scientific advances and breathtaking images that this telescope has brought us over the past ten years.  One of our most
spectacular highlights since the December servicing mission is of the Eskimo Nebula.  The Eskimo Nebula image shows the glowing remains of a dying,
Sun-like star.  The planetary nebula began forming about 10,000 years ago, when the dying star began flinging material into space.  The nebula is composed
of two elliptically shaped lobes of matter streaming above and below the dying star.

One Hubble result from last year merits special attention, because it was truly a long-awaited scientific coup.  After eight years of painstaking measurement,
Hubble scientists  calculated a value for how fast the universe is expanding.   This rate of expansion, called the Hubble Constant, is essential to determining
the age and size of the universe, which scientists now believe to be approximately 12 billion years.  Measuring the Hubble Constant was one of the three
major goals for the telescope when it was launched in 1990.

The Compton Gamma Ray Observatory was launched in 1991 on a five-year mission to study the Universe viewed through gamma-ray photons, the highest
energy portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. This is a place of explosive energy, cosmic particle accelerators, and exotic environments such as collapsed
stars and mysterious bursters, nuclear decays, particle collisions, extraordinary temperatures, and violent explosions. For the first time, the entire sky was
comprehensively studied using this high-energy radiation.  CGRO remained in orbit and continued taking science data for nine years – four years longer
than its originally planned mission.  In December 1999, Compton lost the use of one of its positioning gyroscopes, leaving it just one failure away from having
an uncontrolled re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.  Because of CGRO’s incredible mass, it would not burn up during its re-entry.  Therefore, since pieces
of the spacecraft would impact the Earth and could potentially threaten human life, NASA had always planned to bring CGRO back to Earth in a controlled
manner.  This was successfully accomplished on June 4.  While we were of course sad to see this mission come to an end, we celebrate CGRO’s tremendous
science accomplishments.  From the Sun to the furthest galaxies – from diffuse clouds of interstellar gas to the cores of powerful, gigantic black holes – the
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory has reshaped the way scientists view the Universe.

In other planetary news, Galileo is continuing to study Jupiter and its moons.  Recently, Galileo’s magnetometer experiment returned powerful new evidence
for the existence of an ocean of liquid water beneath the icy crust of Jupiter’s satellite Europa.  Europa orbits Jupiter within the planet’s powerful magnetic
field.  If Europa has an ocean of electrically conducting fluid (e.g., salt water), its motion through Jupiter’s magnetic field will induce electrical currents
within the fluid.  In turn, these electrical currents will induce a magnetic field with unique characteristics that can be measured by the magnetometer.  The
“magnetic north pole” of the induced field will lie near Europa’s equator and the direction of the “magnetic north pole” will change constantly as Europa’s
location within Jupiter’s magnetic field changes.

During a close pass by Europa in 1998, the Galileo magnetometer experiment detected a magnetic field that had characteristics consistent with an induced
field.  On January 2, 2000, Galileo made another close pass by Europa, on a trajectory specially planned so that the observed direction of Europa’s “magnetic
north pole” would make it clear whether or not the pole moves.  Data from this pass showed that the direction of the pole moved in the predicted fashion, and
thereby provided strong support for the existence of an ocean.

This Valentine’s day marked a historic first for NASA when the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft successfully locked into an orbit around
an asteroid.  NEAR made the rendezvous with Asteroid 433 Eros, located some 256 million miles from Earth.  Early data from NEAR indicate that 433 Eros is
no ordinary space rock: the large number and concentration of craters points to an older asteroid, and uniform grooves across its craters and ridges hint at a
global fabric and, perhaps, underground layers.  In addition to numerous boulders, the digital camera has also captured brighter spots on the surface that
NEAR scientists are anxious to study.

The Cassini spacecraft, currently on its seven-year-long journey to Saturn, completed a highly accurate swing-by of Earth in August.  This fly-by was
necessary to give Cassini a boost in speed, sending it toward a rendezvous with Saturn and its moon Titan in 2004.  On January 23 of this year, Cassini passed
within 1.5 million kilometers (925,000 miles) of the Asteroid 2685 Masursky. Several spacecraft instruments, including its camera, visual and infrared
mapping spectrometer, and ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, collected data a few hours before closest approach, when the Sun angle was optimal.  Scientists
plan to use this data to determine the size and shape of the asteroid and its albedo, or reflectivity.

Scientists made strides over the past year in unlocking the clues to the structure and evolution of our Universe, particularly in the study of Gamma Ray
Bursts (GRB’s), which are among the most powerful explosions in the Universe.  They occur with no warning and typically last for only a few short seconds.  
How fortunate then that astronomers, racing the clock, managed to take the first-ever, optical images of a gamma ray burst just as it was occurring on January
23, 1999. 

In other gamma ray news, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory discovered a potentially revolutionary relationship between the differing arrival times of the
various different “colors” of the gamma ray burst and their intrinsic brightness.  If this relationship is confirmed with further observations, a tool of great
importance will be available, enabling the distance to GRB’s to be deduced from their gamma-ray emission alone.

Just last month, we released a major finding from a balloon-borne telescope called BOOMERANG.  This project revealed, for the first time, structure in the
radiation from the Big Bang that can be directly related to structure seen in the modern Universe.  It is the strongest support to date for our most bold theory
of the early Universe, which predicts that we live in a Universe governed by remarkably simple laws of geometry.  At the same time, BOOMERANG has
clearly demonstrated that the Universe is filled with a mysterious “dark energy” and will consequently expand forever.

We continue to learn more and more about our own star, the Sun.  In March, NASA-sponsored scientists announced that, for the first time, we have imaged
solar storm regions on the far side of the Sun, the side facing away from Earth.

The imaging technique uses observations of vibration or ripples on the Sun’s visible surface to probe its interior – in the same way that we use sound waves
caused by Earthquakes and explosions to probe the Earth’s interior.  The new technique enables us to see solar storm regions a week before they rotate on to
the side of the Sun facing the Earth.  These regions can produce explosive events on the Sun, which can cause beautiful aurorae (Northern Lights) here on
Earth, but also can affect radio communications, space systems, and power grids.

A suite of NASA spacecraft continues to study the Sun as it moves into the Maximum phase of its 11-year solar cycle.  One of those spacecraft, the Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recently discovered its 100th comet moving across the Sun.  Launched four years ago as a project of international
cooperation between the European Space Agency and NASA, SOHO has revolutionized the science of the Sun.  It has also revealed an amazing number of
kamikaze comets plunging into the solar atmosphere, which help to make SOHO the most prolific comet finder in the history of astronomy.

By compiling all the solar wind data gathered in the space age, NASA scientists have concluded that even though the solar magnetic field is constantly
changing, it always returns to its original shape and position. The solar wind is composed of charged particles ejected from the Sun that flow continuously
through interplanetary space. The solar wind carries part of the Sun’s magnetic field into space. Before completing this research, scientists knew that
features of the solar wind reaching the Earth tended to repeat about every 27 days. The new information pinpoints the repetition interval at 27 days and 43
minutes and shows that the Sun has kept this steady rhythm, much like a metronome, for at least 38 years.  Current theories imply that the field is generated
by random, churning motions within the Sun and should have no long-term memory. Despite this expectation, the underlying magnetic structure remains
fixed at the same solar longitude, even though it varies in strength and direction.

The Deep Space One (DS-1) mission was launched in October 1998.  The goal of this mission was to test advanced technologies in deep space.  By 1999, DS-1
had successfully tested all twelve of its target technologies, including ion propulsion, autonomous navigation, and a small deep-space transponder.  As a bonus,
the spacecraft completed a successful flyby of Asteroid 1992 KD (now renamed Asteroid 9969 Braille) in July 1999.

Education and Public Outreach

The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 charges this Agency to “contribute to the expansion of human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere
and space” and to “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof.”  The
Space Science Enterprise takes pride in its continued commitment to sharing the knowledge and excitement of our programs via a robust education and public
outreach program.

Space Science has developed a wide variety of resources available to our Nation’s teachers and their students.  From lesson plans and classroom posters to
CD-ROMs and interactive web sites, we make the excitement and discovery of our programs accessible to this important segment of society.  We have
continued over the past year to expand and refine our products and services, based on input that we receive from our customers, the educators themselves.  At
the National Science Teachers’ Association and the National Council on Teachers of Mathematics meetings held in April, we introduced the test version of a
new and valuable service – a web-based resource catalog of our Space Science education and outreach products.  This has been developed in close collaboration
with the Department of Education’s  (DoEd) Gateway to Education Materials (GEM) consortium and is fully compatible with the DoEd indexing and archiving
system for educational materials.

Since we are fully compatible with the DoEd system – used by a large number of teachers across the country to look for materials – teachers going into the
DoEd’s archives looking for Space Science related activities will be brought to the Space Science Resource Directory.  This represents a direct linkage and is
a first for NASA.

It is important to remember that educating and engaging the public goes beyond the boundaries of the formal education system.  Museums, science centers,
and planetaria serve as excellent venues for sharing the excitement and discovery of Space Science with very large audiences, and we are working with that
sector as well.  As examples of the many activities now underway, Space Science is unveiling two major new traveling exhibits, one on the Hubble Space
Telescope and one on Mars.  The Hubble exhibit debuted at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago in June, and the Marsquest will debut at the McWane Center
in Birmingham, Alabama, in October.  Both will then go on tours around the country.  We also have announced that we will donate the Hubble Space
Telescope back-up mirror to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where it will be the centerpiece of the Museum’s new “Explore the
Universe” gallery.  Working closely with the Science Museum/Planetarium community will enable us to share the results of our programs with tens of
millions of people every year.

FY 2001 President’s Budget Request

The President’s proposed budget for NASA’s Space Science Enterprise in Fiscal Year 2001 recognizes our accomplishments and hard work in the past year. 
Even though we experienced some disappointments, it clearly sends the message that this Administration and the American public regard space science as an
important and productive discipline.  The $2.4 billion budget request represents an increase of 10 percent over the FY2000 enacted level.  It promotes a varied
and well-balanced program, with several new initiatives and the resources for a healthy overall program. 

The first new initiative I would like to tell you about is called “Living With A Star,” – the star in this case being our very own Sun.  The Sun is something
that most of us take for granted.  It is our closest star and the center of our Solar System, but just how much do we know about this gigantic ball of energy? 
The answer is not as much as scientists would like to know or perhaps not as much as we as a society need to know.  Everyday it is becoming more and more
apparent what a direct impact the varying effects of the Sun have on the Earth.  These effects are sometimes referred to as “space weather.”  Living With A
Star will undertake the most comprehensive scientific study of the Sun and its interaction with the Earth to date.  It will study in great detail the entire
11-year Solar Cycle to give us an unprecedented understanding of its variable and often violent nature and the effects it can have on Earth.  In much the same
way that we have to study the Earth’s weather patterns repeatedly throughout all four seasons, we can only obtain the level of detail and scientific
understanding of the Sun’s effects that we seek by studying the Sun’s entire cycle.

Our need for a better understanding of solar dynamics was reinforced just recently.  On Friday, July 14, a large solar flare and coronal mass ejection produced
the most intense output of solar energetic particle radiation since October 1989 (the previous period of Solar Maximum).  The radiation interfered with the
operation of several scientific satellites (WIND, SOHO, Chandra) and the geomagnetic storm associated with the event interfered with data from at least one
U.S. weather satellite, affected some electric power systems, and damaged equipment at one power station.

Recognizing the important role that solar events can have on Earth, the ultimate goal of this program is to help scientists gain the understanding needed to
predict storms and other solar phenomena that can have a direct and often critical impact on Earth.  As civilization becomes more technically advanced and
expands into space both physically and economically, we are finding that solar variability can affect civilian and military space systems, human space flight,
electric power grids, GPS signals, high-frequency radio communications, long-range radar, microelectronics and humans in high-altitude aircraft, and
terrestrial climate.  In addition to the fundamental scientific understanding we will gain, it is clear that results of this program will have direct benefits here
on Earth.

This budget includes additional funding for the Mars program.  I truly see this as a vote of confidence from the Administration on behalf of the American
public that we will identify what went wrong and fix it, develop a more robust program, and continue to explore the red planet.  As the team that is in the
process of redefining NASA’s Mars Program completes the program layout for the next decade or so, we will be informing the Committee in much greater
detail of the scope and associated costs we envision for the new Mars Program.

The President’s budget request also features funding for a new branch of an existing Space Science program.  Called “Discovery Micromissions,” this series
of missions to various Solar System targets will be similar to our Small Explorers program, enabling regular, small, low-cost missions throughout the Solar
System and creating new opportunities for university-based research.

The FY01 budget request provides strong support for a robust technology base. Although this funding will allow the agency to pursue a broad range of
information technology investments, we still place highest priority on investments to enable robotic networks that support a revitalized Solar System
exploration program.  As we’ve all learned, investment in NASA technology is not only a good thing for the space program and its component missions – it is
truly a national asset, because a large percentage of the technology developed for space flight has found important applications in other fields as well.

Proposed FY 2001 funding also restores NASA’s Flight Validation Program (formerly known as the New Millennium Program) through FY05.  The program
began as a means to demonstrate new technology, but began to grow into more of a technology/science program.  This drove up the cost and complexity of the
program and took the focus away from its original intent.  For these reasons, last year the Administration proposed cancellation of the New Millennium
Program.  The Space Science Enterprise took a hard look at the program and made the changes necessary to bring the focus of the program back to its original
intent – technology demonstration.  The result was restoration of funding in the FY 2001 request.

And finally, this budget request provides for Astrobiology, a relatively new program at NASA.  It specifically supports the development of new technologies,
instruments, and research tools that will help us further understand life in the Universe. 


The President’s proposed FY 2001 budget endorses a robust and scientifically diverse Space Science program.  It gives us the resources we need to continue
studying our complex Universe and to develop the technologies and innovations necessary to expand our presence in it.  The Space Science Enterprise has a
proud heritage of delivering world-class science to the American taxpayers and explaining to them the significance of our discoveries and what it means to
them.  This budget says that what we do is important, and it paves the way for future scientific discoveries and glimpses of new phenomena in our Universe.