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US scientists to boycott NASA meeting

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Washington, Oct 6 (IANS) Several prominent scientists in exoplanet research have decided to boycott a NASA conference after learning Chinese researchers are barred from attending by the space agency, which cited national security as its reason.

The meeting is scheduled to take place at the space agency's Ames Research Centre in California in November and will include both US and international teams who work on NASA's exoplanet-hunting Kepler space telescope programme, reports Xinhua.

But Chinese researchers, including those who worked at US universities and other institutions, were denied the opportunity to attend the meeting. 

NASA officials reportedly said the rejection is in accordance with a law passed first in March 2011 that prohibits government funds from being used to host Chinese nationals at NASA facilities.

Now, NASA is facing a backlash as several big names in exoplanet research, including Debra Fischer, who leads a research group at Yale University, and Geoff Marcy, an astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been tipped to win a Nobel prize for his pioneering work on exoplanets, announced they will pull out of the meeting in protest.

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