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Saturday, October 19, 2013
U.S. Government Scientists Head Back to Work
Overflowing in-boxes and confusion greet relieved researchers after the 16-day partial government shutdown
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: It is unknown what long-term effects the government shutdown will have on U.S. research programs such as weather and climate studies in Antarctica.Image: Phillip Marzette, National Science Foundation
As if emerging from a coma, the US government slowly came back to life today after politicians agreed on a deal to fund federal operations, thereby ending the 16-day shutdown that had halted most government research.
Workers returning to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Washington DC headquarters were greeted this morning by US vice-president Joseph Biden — bearing a few symbolic breakfast muffins — and a less-sweet memo that explained, among other things, that scheduled travel will not restart until 20 October.
At NASA, the shutdown halted work on several missions in development, including the James Webb Space Telescope, which for some projects could lead to launch delays months or years from now. Agency chief Charles Bolden has already warned employees that it will take time for NASA to return to full strength. “We've been away for some time now, so please don't expect that we can return to normalcy in a day or two or even a week,” he wrote in an e-mail message.