AROUND THE WORLD
Carbon observatory in orbit
LOMPOC, CALIFORNIA | The Orbiting
Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), a NASA
mission to measure atmospheric carbon
dioxide, reached orbit on 2 July after
launching from Vandenberg Air Force
Base. The $468 million spacecraft is a
replacement for OCO, which failed soon
after launch in 2009 when the nose cone
on a Taurus XL rocket didn’t open. By
measuring carbon dioxide in a column of
air a couple of kilometers across, OCO-2
should enable a precise accounting of
regional carbon budgets—in particular the
net exchange above carbon sinks such as
the Amazon rainforest (Science, 13 June,
p. 1211). Furthermore, the spacecraft will
detect the faint fluorescent glow that
accompanies photosynthesis, allowing for
an estimate of carbon uptake. Researchers
on the mission hope to remove
uncertainties from global carbon budgets
and also see how different regions will
respond to the pressures of climate change.
Research funding needs overhaul
PARIS | France’s research system is too
“rigid” and “complex,” according to a
report by the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The study, released in late June, urges
the government to continue reforms
set in motion over the past decade but
criticizes France’s tax credit system for
R&D as ineffective and too generous.
“French research … seems to be among
the most inert in the world in terms of
specialisation,” the report says. Most
public science in France is centered
around large national organizations,
which plan, fund, and carry out research.
According to the review, which was
requested by the French government,
some 10% of France’s public research
funds are awarded to specific projects
on a competitive basis—the lowest figure
among OECD’s 34 member countries. The
report recommends raising the percentage
to stimulate competition and adjust
research priorities more quickly.
Development threatens the greater sage grouse’s habitat in Wyoming.
Conservation biologistsaren’t happy with U.S.government plans to largely adopt the state of Wyoming’s strategy for protect- ing the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus)—a declining grassland bird at the center of a national contro- versy. The strategy fails to preclude intrusive development in key habitat and preserve the bird’s wintering range, the scientists say in a report issued this week by Defenders of Wildlife. The
critique comes in response to last month’s decision by the federal
Bureau of Land Management to start implementing elements of the
state plan on some 800,000 hectares of federal land in Wyoming.
Grouse numbers have declined by half in recent decades and the
state, which holds an estimated one-third of the remaining population, developed its strategy in 2011 in a bid to prevent the bird
from being added to the federal endangered species list. Such an
endangered species listing worries ofcials in the 11 states where
the grouse lives because it could trigger extensive regulation of oil
and gas drilling and other land uses.
Failure rate for Alzheimer’s disease
( AD) drug development from 2002 to
2012, according to the first-ever analysis
of AD clinical trials, by researchers at
the Cleveland Clinic. 99.6%