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sending the sail roughly 1 million kilometers off course by the time it reaches the Oort Cloud.
Is there a specific part of the Oort Cloud they want to go to?
May be they are worried aiming antenna on spaceship properly? Some signal or other should reaches earth from that antenna for an expedition to have some value (at least for earth bound folks).
Talking with various people involved in these interactions was a real eye opener. Most of them said their IT system would not allow them to go forward without SSN, as these systems uses SSN as a unique key. So you have to thank these IT system designers for their lack of imagination to come up with a random key, at least for a major part of the problem.
In isolation, some NASA engineers may be smart. But they may not be the people who probably are making these decisions. Highly likely that it is some internal group that is charged with consistency or similar title. They may loose power or may even become superfluous, if NASA goes metric.
On a different note, how much confidence do you have in an agency like NASA that is charged with exploring space, when they cannot even do what school kids all over world do with ease?
Up front, let me say that my response will be colored by the fact that I was in running for a CTO position of a fairly large company. I do not have any government background also.
CTO jobs generally mean different things in different companies. In situations where there is a CIO and CTO, generally CTO works within guidelines and strategies visualized by CIO and other C-level executives. CTO is concerned primarily with operational parameters like capacity building, capability building, and even confidence building.
CTO generally understands current technology trends, has an antenna up for receiving tectonic technology shifts, and can visualize alignment of company's business goals and technology goals.
Somebody from Silicon Valley will have feelers for technology shifts that may be difficult to replicate elsewhere. Aneesh Chopra, from limited background given in submitted story, may excel at alignment, particularly in a government position with multitude of stake holders. He seems quite capable of understanding current technology trends as any person from Silicon Valley.
So the question basically boils down to this - if CTO of USA is mainly responsible for operational issues as defined above, he is an excellent choice. On other hand, if CTO of USA is charged with coming up technology that nobody can even visualize now, there may be better choices.
Not just international media, even "/. scientists" in a previous discussion were speculating that text books will be written about discovering water - for fourth time