Shutdown Reaches Mars: Curiosity Rover Will Stop

…but not without some major snark! Just before 11 p.m. Monday night, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft sent this message via Twitter: Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves. — NASAVoyager2 (@NASAVoyager2) October 1, 2013 Of course, it wasn’t Voyager sending the tweet, it […]
The parachute for the Mars Science Laboratory mission to Mars. The Mars Curiosity Rover will stop collecting data during the shutdown. Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech.
…but not without some major snark! Just before 11 p.m. Monday night, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft sent this message via Twitter:
Due to government shutdown, we will not be posting or responding from this account. Farewell, humans. Sort it out yourselves. — NASAVoyager2 (@NASAVoyager2) October 1, 2013
Of course, it wasn’t Voyager sending the tweet, it was Voyager’s handlers here on Earth. But the slight whiff of snarkiness coming from the intrepid spacecraft that’s hurtling through deep space — and depending very much on government funding to do so — highlights the powerful impact this shutdown has on science and the nation’s scientific agencies. At NASA, Mission Control in Houston remains active to support the crew aboard the International Space Station. But nearly all other space agency operations have ground to a halt. NASA has 18,250 civil servants around the country, and the furlough means 90 percent are now sitting at home wondering what will happen at next. Visiting nasa.gov redirects users to a placeholder screen, saying that the website is not available, “due to the lapse in federal government funding.” The Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website still functions, but will not be updated. “We also cannot respond to comments/questions. We sincerely regret this inconvenience,” adds JPL. ABC News reached out to its press contacts and sources involved at NASA but only received an automated response in reply. “I am in furlough status; therefore, I am unable to respond to your message at this time,” wrote one employee. Spacecrafts and satellites not yet launched are grounded and while the Hubble Space Telescope will continue peering into far flung galaxies, no one will be there to collect the data.
“If a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project,” NASA’s shutdown plan reads. “The extent of support necessary and the time needed to safely cease project activities will depend on whether any of the activities are of a hazardous nature (e.g., parts of the satellite may need to be cooled).”
Work preparing for the Mars MAVEN mission, which was slated for a Nov. 18 launch, for example, has stopped, and could delay the craft’s planned mission to Mars. How did furlough effect you?  Please let us know by commenting below.
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New Bill May Protect Civilian DoD Workers From Furloughs

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. has written a bill that could bring some good news for civilian employees with the Department of Defense. Currently those employees are losing one day of pay per week because of the budget cuts. The house has passed Congressman Tom Cole’s bill barring furloughs of civilian workers in the next fiscal […]
Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. has written a bill that could bring some good news for civilian employees with the Department of Defense. Currently those employees are losing one day of pay per week because of the budget cuts. The house has passed Congressman Tom Cole’s bill barring furloughs of civilian workers in the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. This could affect about 650,000 employees that started to take 11 scheduled furlough days as a cost-cutting measure to cope with the $37 billion across-the-board sequestration cuts. However, the furlough situation could get a lot worth in 2014. “Plan B” letter sent to congress by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel mentions the possibility of layoffs is the sequestration continues in 2014. The bill will now be considered by the senate but it could be Labor Day before that happens.
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