It may just all be an uncanny coincidence — but as I revel in all the “STEM on Fleek” wonder that is the screen adaptation of “Hidden Figures” tonight (do go see it when it opens nationwide later this week — it will win Oscars!) — it strikes me that this quiet departure is due in no small part to the arrival of a President who denies climate change, and ignores basic security briefings. In short, an “evidence light” President. I might not decide to just stick around blindly — to see what he does to the space science budget, either.
Of course, we are likely to read — within weeks — that she has taken a high profile role at an elite academic institution, or in private industry. Here’s the bit of the article out tonight:
. . . .It appears [NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen] Stofan officially left her role on or around December 20th, with NASA quietly confirming that in an interview it posted on Tumblr. The space agency has merely said that Stofan is “departing for new adventures,” which doesn’t tell us much. She has a long history with the space agency, and was appointed NASA’s chief scientist in August 2013.
The big question now is what NASA has in store for the coming months, namely what it will do in Stofan’s absence and whether it already has a successor planned. The departure happened just before the new presidential administration comes into power, and the many questions surrounding that — about NASA’s future and the budgets it will get, that is — leaves a big question mark to conclude the year. . . .
Now you know. I’ll try to resist seeing these departures all as part of a larger (and rather bleak) narrative, but it is sensible to believe (I think) that this departure might be read as a lack of faith in the incoming Administration. We will hopefully have a less jaundiced view in the coming days (as more information becomes available). Yes — that I will hope.