3. The NASA fallout
Things will not fall out of space due to the shutdown. However, of the space agency's 18,000 or so employees, fewer than 600 will continue working through the shutdown in order to ensure safety of human life and protection of property, states a NASA shutdown plan submitted Friday (Sept. 27) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
"If a satellite mission is in the operations phase, we will maintain operations that are essential to ensure the safety of that satellite and the data received from it," the OMB report reads. "However, if a satellite mission has not yet been launched, work will generally cease on that project."
The International Space Station (ISS) and the six members of the current Expedition 37 crew can rest easy: "NASA will shut down almost entirely, but Mission Control will remain open to support the astronauts serving on the space station," President Barack Obama said during a statement delivered from the White House on Monday (Sept. 30).
NASA does have one thing to celebrate: The space agency was launched on Oct. 1, 1958, making today its 55th birthday.
4. Weather forecasting
Some good news here: You'll still get weather forecasts and emergency warnings. Some "3,935 employees at the National Weather Service (NWS) who forecast the weather, issue warnings, support radar, satellite and other weather monitoring, and are involved in computer model operations" are excepted under law as protecting people and property, and will continue working, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang blog writes.
Likewise, the National Hurricane Center will continue monitoring storms, including Tropical Storm Jerry now over the Atlantic, and a possible storm developing in the Western Caribbean Sea. [Hurricanes from Above: See Nature's Biggest Storms]
"Please be assured … that the National Hurricane Center will continue operating with no interruption in providing its mission," NHC spokesman Dennis Feltgen said in his voicemail greeting. He was unavailable for further comment due to being furloughed, which prevents government employees from responding to phone calls or emails.
Not all National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the NWS's parent organization) employees will continue working though. Employees working on weather research — for example, in developing the Global Forecasting System (GFS) model — will not continue working during the shutdown, the Capital Weather Gang said. This model is a rival to a European model — both are being developed in an effort to find the most powerful and accurate weather forecast model.
5. Planet Earth
The U.S. Geological Survey – the bureau that conducts Earth and natural science research for the Department of the Interior – provides water, environmental, and energy information to a variety of Federal agencies and emergency response organizations. Of its 8,623 employees distributed across more than 400 offices, only 43 are exempt from the shutdown, but 200 will remain on call in case of an emergency. Natural disaster programs including flood response, 24/7 earthquake monitoring program, and volcano observations will remain in effect, but the majority of scientific studies – including ecosystem restoration efforts and water quality collection and analysis – will be shut down.
6. Environmental protection
Only about 7 percent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 16,205 employees will continue working after the shutdown. While emergency response teams will remain intact, ongoing efforts to develop new emissions standards for existing and new power plants — with deadlines in 2014 — will be delayed, as will efforts to develop new renewable fuel standards, also with deadlines in 2014, according to Reuters. Animals used in research will be cared for and sensitive research samples — such as temperature-sensitive ice cores — will be maintained during the shutdown, but the research itself will terminate until the shutdown ends.
LiveScience's Laura Poppick, Rachael Rettner, Andrea Thompson and Jeanna Bryner contributed to this article.
Original article on LiveScience.
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