I don't have a theme for this week's blog, just a collection of random thoughts. I would like to hear from you about issues/topics that you want discussed in the blog. Please send your thoughts in the website (which can also be found at InsideNASA).
New NASA Website
It's taken awhile, but I'm glad we were finally able to unveil the new website earlier this week. Keeping the website current needs to be an ongoing process with refreshers much more frequent than every five years. Hopefully, that commitment can be maintained even as the transition to a new Administration occurs. I'll be interested to know what users, especially young people, think about content, look, and features. I have established an intra-agency web strategy council, led by Chris Kemp of Ames Research Center, to look into policy regarding a multitude of NASA websites with the ultimate goal of making the breadth and depth of NASA's information more easily accessible. They have many other tasks in front of them as well.
Operations Management Council
Almost every month, I chair the Operations Management Council, a group that consists of senior representatives from the Mission Directorates, Centers, and Mission Support offices. Charles Scales, Rebecca Keiser, and Kelly Carter have been working over the past year to focus each meeting on a particular theme that needs attention. For example, one meeting focused on protection of NASA's personnel and assets: emergency preparedness planning, hurricane vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies, workplace violence policy, and guidance regarding sensitive but unclassified information. Another meeting focused on NASA property: disposition of assets during the transition between Space Shuttle and Constellation, and status of a new automated asset management system. January's meeting will focus on human capital - particularly, planning for the transition between Space Shuttle and Constellation.
NASA FY2009 Budget
We are full-swing in the budget season for FY2009. The agency received the FY2009 passback from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (this is the response to NASA's original budget submit). We continue with the discussion phase with OMB. The end result will be incorporated into the President's budget, which will be rolled out in February 2008. Then, Congress will take up the budget for its consideration.
Launch of Space Shuttle STS-122 Mission
I am currently in Florida for the launch of the Space Shuttle STS-122 Mission. We have a very large crowd from Europe joining us at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch of the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory, which will become part of the International Space Station. I joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European officials in Bremen, Germany, on May 2, 2006, to celebrate the completion of the Columbus laboratory. So, I look forward to the continuation of the journey of this major new addition to the International Space Station.
Travel to Guatemala and Panama
Next week, I travel to Guatemala and Panama to see first-hand how data from NASA's Earth sciences satellites are being used in practical applications throughout the region. In Guatemala, I will learn more about how NASA's remote sensing data were used to locate and interpret the remains of the ancient Mayan civilization, and how NASA's climate research offers insights into that civilization's rise and fall. During my visit to Panama, I will visit the Mesoamerican Regional Visualization and Monitoring System (known by its Spanish acronym, SERVIR). The SERVIR facility receives and integrates NASA remote sensing data and makes it readily available to regional users including government officials, researchers, students and the general public. SERVIR uniquely helps to monitor and forecast ecological changes in Central America and assists in responding to severe events such as forest fires, red tides and tropical storms. This should be very interesting and I will provide more details next week.