Peter Worden Speaks About Yuri’s Night, Astrobiology and World Peace

CNET’s Daniel Terdiman has an interesting interview with Pete Worden. The NASA Ames director spoke about astrobiology, global warming, world peace and other matters during a Yuri’s Night celebration held at the space center on Saturday.

Worden has some nice things to say about Yuri’s Night, which he sees as essential to getting younger people excited about space exploration. He also discusses possible expansion of the center’s partnership with Google and California’s universities.

However, the rest of the interview is disappointing. Terdiman throws some softball questions at Worden about the agency’s work on global warming and whether Ames can be “a center of research into peace.” The Ames director hits these pitches clear out of the park and right into the San Francisco Bay.

Terdiman is unaware of (or too polite to mention) the Bush Administration’s gutting of NASA’s global warming efforts and its attempts to muzzle agency climate scientists. Worden is smart enough not to mention it.

The interviewer also praises the “fresh perspective” Worden has brought to Ames through supporting Yuri’s Night, the center’s involvement in the virtual world Second Life, and the Google partnership.

Terdiman failed to ask about the results of the recently published NASA Cultural Survey. Only 36 percent of Ames employees surveyed answered “Yes” to the question, “I can rely on management to be honest.” This was the lowest percentage of all the agency’s centers and well below the agency’s paltry average of 51 percent.

NASA Ames also consistently scored at or near the bottom of a number of questions, including whether management encourages innovation, communicates on a timely basis, develops leaders effectively, and fosters an environment where employees feel free to raise dissenting opinions without fear that their careers will suffer.