WASHINGTON, D.C. ( – Saying everyone had spent more than enough time sitting in front of computer screens and TV monitors, NASA today abruptly turned off all its space telescopes and satellites and told scientists to go outside, for God’s sake.
With more than 85 missions suddenly gone black, the 18,000 astronomers, mathematicians, technicians and others did as they were told, but not without a lot of grumbling and whining.

“Just 10 more minutes?” asked a team of astrophysicists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “We’re just getting to the good part of this spectrum test.”

“No!” their NASA administrator responded. “And take your friends from the European Space Agency with you.”

At the Jet Propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, Cal., astronomers were interrupted right in the middle of observing their favorite star cluster, NGC 602.

“But stars are cool!” griped lead researcher Nicole Weiss as she bumped past her director and sulked out the door, followed by a group of sullen Cal Tech physicists.

After initially complaining, some scientists actually enjoyed themselves.

“Look, there’s a star, right there, in the sky,” said her boss, pointing to the Sun. “Isn’t that cool?”

“Ouch! It hurts my eyes,” whined Cal Tech Prof. Stephen Kielli.

“Let’s go back inside and look at it on a monitor!” suggested Weiss.

The U.S. space agency faced a similar reaction from scientists pouring over data from the Cassini spacecraft, which is studying Jupiter’s moon, Titan.

“Go outside? But it’s raining,” argued planetary scientist Gilles Fouchier.

“No it’s not. It’s a beautiful day,” replied his supervisor.

“Not here. On Titan. It’s raining benzene!” said Fouchier.

“I don’t care if it’s raining Benadryl, get outside!” barked his boss.

“Well that’s just dumb,” Fouchier muttered under his breath as he stalked down the hall. “It can’t rain Benadryl on Titan. There’s no diphenhydramine on Titan. Stupidhead.”
“What was that?” said the supervisor.
“Nothing,” Fouchier mumbled.

But outside the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, where a NASA-led team has been working on radiation belts, deputy project scientists Han Ni Po and Elsa Grindell were surprised as they emerged blinking into the sunlight.

“Wow, it’s summer,” said Han.

“It’s… 2013,” noted Grindell.

NASA said it would use the time “to clean up around here,” starting with the bathrooms, where, “these geniuses, who can remember pi to 100 decimal places, somehow never remember to put the seat down.”

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