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U.S. Astronomers Discover It, Then It's Outsourced

from the San Francisco Chronicle

When three U.S. astronomers won the Nobel Prize in physics last year, for discovering that the expansion of the universe was speeding up in defiance of cosmic gravity--as if change fell out of your pockets onto the ceiling--it reaffirmed dark energy, the glibly named culprit behind this behavior, as the great cosmic surprise and mystery of our time.

And it underscored the case, long urged by U.S. astronomers, for a NASA mission to measure dark energy--to determine, for example, whether the cosmos would expand forever or whether, perhaps, there might be something wrong with our understanding of gravity.

In 2019, a spacecraft known as Euclid will begin such a mission to study dark energy. But it is being launched by the European Space Agency, not NASA, with U.S. astronomers serving only as very junior partners, contributing $20 million and some infrared sensors.

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