Government shutdown puts a damper on science

Welcome sign at AAS
Arata Expositions’ Jason Edwards puts down a “Welcome” sign for the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting at the Seattle Convention Center. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

It’s been called the “Super Bowl of Astronomy,” but when the American Astronomical Society’s winter meeting plays out in Seattle this week, some of the stars won’t be taking the field.

The AAS meeting is just one of the scientific endeavors diminished by the partial government shutdown in Washington, D.C., which entered its 17th day today.

NASA representatives, and researchers whose travel would typically be funded by NASA, have had to cancel their plans to be in Seattle due to the tiff involving the Trump administration and Republicans on one side, and Democrats on the other.

The shutdown affects only a quarter of the federal government — which means that the Defense Department and the Energy Department can continue research and development activities. Work continues as well at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and at the National Institutes of Health.

But most employees at NASA as well as at the Agriculture Department, the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service are on furlough.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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