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WEEK OF AUGUST 28, 2023
What’s Ahead

Biden McCarthy Oval Office.jpg

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) negotiated caps on federal spending with President Joe Biden in May, but a group of House Republicans are now pushing to cut spending below the caps, clouding the outlook for a final agreement.

Adam Schultz/White House

Shutdown Fears Loom Over September Budget Negotiations

When Congress returns from its August recess after Labor Day, lawmakers face the urgent task of negotiating a stopgap spending measure to avert a government shutdown at the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. While Congress routinely uses stopgaps to buy time to reach a final agreement on agency spending levels, this year a group of right-wing House Republicans are threatening to oppose the measure unless it includes provisions reflecting their policy priorities, which Democrats are unlikely to accept.

Reaching a final agreement will also be made more difficult by House Republicans’ aim of cutting agency budgets well below the overall spending caps that President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) negotiated for the fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Senate has advanced bipartisan spending legislation that exceeds the caps by adding more than $10 billion in “emergency” spending, some of which is for science programs. The Biden administration has also requested Congress provide around $40 billion in additional emergency spending largely related to disaster relief and the war in Ukraine.

Japan Set to Launch X-Ray Astronomy Mission

JAXA, Japan’s space agency, is aiming to launch its X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission as soon as Thursday after it scrubbed its first launch attempt at the beginning of this week due to adverse weather conditions. XRISM (pronounced “crism”) is designed to provide unprecedented X-ray spectroscopic resolution that will enable new research on the structure and formation of the universe, the evolution of galaxy clusters, and the circulation of energy in the cosmos. NASA has contributed over $100 million to the mission’s development, primarily by supplying one of its two instruments, a soft X-ray spectrometer called Resolve, and will also contribute to post-launch operations. JAXA built XRISM after a similar observatory it launched in 2016 called Hitomi broke apart early in its mission due to a software error that caused it to tumble out of control. JAXA’s small-scale SLIM (Smart Lander for Investigating Moon) mission will launch on the same rocket as XRISM and, if successful, it will be Japan’s first mission to safely reach the lunar surface.

In Case You Missed it

ISRO Rover Uturn.png

India’s Chandrayann-3 lunar rover left these tracks after it reached the lip of a crater and had to turn around to explore in a different direction.

(ISRO)

ISRO Accomplishes First Landing Near Lunar South Pole

India successfully landed its Chandrayaan-3 mission in the south polar region of the Moon last Wednesday. The mission, comprising a rover and its landing craft, is expected to continue for about 14 days, until the Sun sets on the landing site. The landing comes just a week after a Russian landing attempt, also targeting the Moon’s south polar region, ended in failure. The region is of significant interest due to the water ice that exists in permanently shadowed craters there, but it is a harder location to reach than other parts of the Moon. Reportedly costing about $75 million, Chandrayaan-3 is part of an international scramble to reach the lunar surface on low budgets. NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, which is also part of that drive, is currently scheduled to make its first landing attempts later this year following repeated delays.

US Buying Time to Renegotiate Science Agreement With China

Just before the Aug. 27 expiration of the U.S.–China Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, the State Department indicated it would seek to negotiate new terms while extending the existing terms for six months. A department spokesperson told NBC News, “We are clear-eyed to the challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China’s national strategies on science and technology, Beijing’s actions in this space, and the threat they pose to U.S. national security and intellectual property and are dedicated to protecting the interests of the American people.” On the same day the department disclosed its interest in extending the agreement, three Republican members of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party introduced legislation proposing that any S&T agreements between the U.S. and China be subject to congressional review. Meanwhile, prominent scientists rallied in support of extending the agreement, with over 1,000 signing a petition organized by Stanford University physicists Steven Kivelson and Peter Michelson.

PCAST Seeks Reforms to Nanotechnology Initiative Oversight

Last week, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued its seventh congressionally mandated review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. PCAST’s main recommendation is that the federal government “sunset or substantially revise” the 21st Century Nanotechnology R&D Act of 2003 that established oversight structures for the NNI, which the U.S. launched in 2000. PCAST argues that “the federal coordination structure required for the emergence of nanotechnology in the early 2000s needs to evolve to reflect nanotechnology’s maturation and broad relevance.” It suggests, for instance, ending the act’s mandated periodic reviews of the initiative and the annual NNI supplement to the president’s budget request. It also recommends that the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council play a bigger role in coordinating the initiative. Turning to workforce development needs, PCAST suggests that agencies on the subcommittee do more to promote multidisciplinary “experiential learning programs.”

Upcoming Events

All times are Eastern Daylight Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement.

Monday, August 28

NDIA: Emerging Technologies for Defense Conference
(continues through Wednesday)

National Academies: “Ocean Acoustics Education and Expertise,” meeting on workforce needs in the energy sector
10:00 - 10:30 am

National Academies: “Ocean Acoustics Education and Expertise,” meeting on best practices for developing expertise in ocean acoustics
2:00 - 2:30 pm

Tuesday, August 29

AMS: 2023 Summer Community Meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NASA: Science Advisory Council Science Committee meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NNSA: Molybdenum-99 stakeholders meeting
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

NSF: South Pole Station Master Plan Charrette Webinar - Science Programs
12:00 - 6:00 pm

ANS: “Sail Into a Career in Nuclear Science and Technology”
1:00 - 2:00 pm

National Academies: Polar Research Board summer meeting
1:00 - 5:00 pm

NIH: Novel and Exceptional Technology and Research Advisory Committee meeting
2:00 - 4:30 pm

Wednesday, August 30

National Academies: Heliophysics Decadal Survey Steering Committee meeting six
(continues Friday)

National Academies: “NASA Mission Critical Workforce, Infrastructure, and Technology,” meeting nine
(continues Thursday)

ANS: “Revolutionizing the Future of Space Flight and Habitation”
3:00 - 4:00 pm

House: “Roundtable on CCP Threat to American Manufacturing”
3:00 - 4:45 pm CDT, Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party

Thursday, August 31

National Academies: Forum on large language models, security for scientific computing, and software assurance
(continues Friday)

NSF: South Pole Station Master Plan Charrette Webinar - Master Planning
12:00 - 6:00 pm

National Academies: “Ocean Acoustics Education and Expertise,” meeting on best practices for developing expertise in ocean acoustics
2:00 - 2:30 pm

National Academies: International Talent Programs in the Changing Global Environment Committee,” meeting five
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Friday, September 1

National Academies: “The Current Status and Future Direction of High Magnetic Field Science in the United States, Phase II”
10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Tuesday, September 5

National Academies: “Global Microelectronics: Models for the Department of Defense in Semiconductor Public-Private Partnerships”
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Opportunities

NSF Hiring Leads for New Technology Directorate

The National Science Foundation is hiring heads for the Emerging Technologies Section and the Innovation Programs Section in its recently created Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships. The emerging technologies unit is responsible for developing key technologies identified by the CHIPS and Science Act, and the innovation unit works to foster regional innovation ecosystems through NSF’s new “Engines” program. Applications are due Aug. 31.

National Academies Seeking Mirzayan Policy Fellows

The National Academies has opened applications for the spring 2024 cohort of the Christine Mirzayan S&T Policy Graduate Fellowship Program. Fellows work full-time for 12 weeks across policy units of the Academies. The fellowship is open to early-career scientists, engineers, and medical professionals and late-stage graduate students. Applications are due Oct.16.

DOE Renewables Office Seeking Strategic Analysis Fellows

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy is seeking applications for its strategic analysis fellowship. Fellows will work on projects “pertaining to the performance, costs, benefits, challenges, and opportunities of clean energy technologies.” Candidates must be pursuing or have a master’s or doctoral degree. The fellowship will last one year, with the possibility of extension.

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Around the Web

News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

AP: OSTP director calls for more safeguards against AI risks
FedScoop: Experts warn of ‘contradictions’ in Biden administration’s top AI policy documents

Congress

Roll Call: House GOP hard-liners lay out stopgap funding demands
Syracuse Post-Standard: House Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) tours Syracuse 5G equipment factory benefiting from legislation he voted against
American Prospect: Big tech has penetrated the GAO (perspective by Mariam Baksh)

Science, Society, and the Economy

American Affairs Journal: America’s advanced manufacturing problem — and how to fix it (perspective by David Adler and William Bonvillian)
Nikkei Asia: China ties become a fundraising hurdle for startups in the US

Education and Workforce

NSF: Fostering harassment-free STEM education, research, and workplace environments
Physics World: Astronomers protest at International Astronomical Union’s updated code of conduct on harassment
Nature: ‘Gagged and blindsided’: How an allegation of research misconduct affected our lab (interview with Ram Sasisekhara)
NSF: DOE-NSF geothermal energy program internship program announces first cohort
STPI: Russia space talent (report)

Research Management

CSET: Bayh-Dole patent trends: Charting developments in government-funded intellectual property through time (report)
Nature: Allow patents on AI-generated inventions — for the good of science (perspective by Ryan Abbott)
University of California: New pilot open access agreement between the University of California and Frontiers
HPCwire: DOE report on the science of scientific software development and use
Physics Today: Helium prices surge to record levels as shortage continues

Labs and Facilities

Science: China’s new underground JUNO lab could answer long-standing neutrino mystery
European Spallation Source: Serial installation of cryomodules starts at ESS
UCAR: Officials inaugurate new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center machine
Berkeley Lab: Junko Yano appointed director of Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division

Computing and Communications

NIST: NIST to standardize encryption algorithms that can resist attack by quantum computers
Chicago Quantum Exchange: The rising leaders of the quantum prairie
National Defense Magazine: US quantum tech firm teams with Australia to develop GPS alternative
Nikkei Asia: US commerce secretary begins China trip with focus on chips, AI
Nikkei Asia: US to extend China chip export waivers for Taiwan, Korea chipmakers
EE Times: Global ‘chips acts’ open debate about best way forward
Issues in Science and Technology: A new policy toolbox for semiconductor supply chains (perspective by Abigail Berger, et al.)
Foreign Affairs: Mexico’s microchip advantage: The right way to shift the semiconductor supply chain away from China (perspective by Chris Miller and David Talbot)
C4ISRNet: US research interests closely tied to microelectronics industrial base

Space

New York Times: India’s Moon landing offers blueprint for other countries dreaming big
Vox: The Chandrayaan-3 Moon landing is part of a new lunar space race
Space Review: Despite the Luna-25 failure, Russia is not a declining space power (perspective by Daniel Duchaine)
NASA: NASA selects geology team for the first crewed Artemis lunar landing
SpaceNews: NASA prepares for space research decadal survey
New York Times: How Harvard professor Avi Loeb became the world’s leading alien hunter

Weather, Climate, and Environment

National Academies: Integrating the human sciences to scale societal responses to environmental change: Proceedings of a workshop (report)
Nature: These veteran female activists are fighting a pivotal climate case with science
NPR: The GOP debate featured climate change. Some young Republicans say that’s a win
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Partnerships, not parachutes: How Indigenous knowledge and citizen science can enhance climate research (perspective by Chad Small)
Science: Mandatory disclosure would reveal corporate carbon damages (perspective by Michael Greenstone, et al.)
Federation of American Scientists: Leveraging positive tipping points to accelerate decarbonization

Energy

E&E News: How David Crane is helping DOE jump-start the ‘energy revolution’
New York Times: The race to unlock geothermal energy
GAO: NRC needs to take additional actions to prepare to license advanced reactors (report)
E&E News: Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves smaller safety zones for advanced nuclear reactors
Physics Today: Pentagon’s microreactor program faces safety and nonproliferation concerns
E&E News: ‘Down your throat': Biden pushes carbon capture and storage on polluted places
E&E News: Republicans take aim at the ‘next Solyndra.’ Will voters care?

Defense

Air and Space Forces Magazine: Former chief scientists: Office move may hurt science and technology’s influence on Air Force decision-making
National Defense Magazine: Defense Innovation Unit needs to support strategic deterrence, director says
War on the Rocks: To promote defense innovation, fund the Defense Innovation Unit (perspective by Ben McNally)
Washington Technology: Pentagon preps for $48 billion tech-research contracts
DefenseScoop: US government gets new miniaturized laser weapon
South China Morning Post: Chinese navy says it’s testing the planet’s most powerful coil gun
Defense News: The US submarine force should be silent no more (perspective by Bryan Clark)
New York Times: Some experts want to apply recent neuroscience research to the decision making that could lead to doomsday
DOD: Pentagon official calls for total force focus on emerging biothreats
Defense One: As DOD steps up response to bioweapon threat, China plays complicated role in biosecurity

Biomedical

DOE: Proposed update to exposure limits in Chronic Beryllium Disease Prevention Program
Nature: Medicine is plagued by untrustworthy clinical trials. How many studies are faked or flawed?
Nature: Europe spent €600 million to recreate the human brain in a computer. How did it go?

International Affairs

Science|Business: Back to school: What’s on the European research and innovation policy agenda this autumn
Science|Business: European Commission confirms it is planning restrictions on Huawei in Horizon Europe
Nikkei Asia: US–China joint research papers drop for first time in 28 years
The Diplomat: The party rules: China’s new Central Science and Technology Commission (perspective by Charles Mok)
Science|Business: War in Ukraine points to the need for a resilient multilateral science system
Research Professional: Australian R&D spending drops as percentage of GDP
Nature: Australia grapples with how to investigate scientific misconduct
Research Professional: South Africa mourns death of space science director
CERN Courier: Iraq to join SESAME as associate member
ScienceInsider: Government seizure of Nicaraguan university a blow to science, researchers say

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