If you're interested in planetary science, then news of NASA's new chief scientist is sure to cheer you. Ellen Stofan will replace the outgoing Waleed Abdalati, who is moving to direct an environmental science program at the University of Colorado. Stofen, a planetary geologist, is an expert on the surfaces of the rocky planets. As chief scientist, it's her job to advise NASA administrator Charles Bolden on all science-related issues facing the space agency.
Bolden is a former astronaut, so Stofen should be ideally situated to provide a different point of view. With manned spaceflight and planetary science as NASA's two main objectives, a balance of views is important. Among the issues which will face Stofen as she assumes her new position are a falling budget, rising commercial spaceflight, and the continued exploration of Mars.