Bad news for space nerds — NASA’s budget is getting cut again, and this time it’s planetary scientists who are feeling the pressure. So much pressure, in fact, that the CEO of the Planetary Society nonprofit put out an open letter urging Obama to reconsider. Oh, also, the CEO of the Planetary Society is our friend Bill Nye. You know, the Science Guy. That’s probably pretty relevant.
Here’s a transcript of the above video:
The space program, NASA, is the best brand that the United States has. Everywhere in the world, people respect and admire what NASA does. Right now what NASA does best is explore the solar system through the Planetary Science Program.
People around the world shared the seven minutes of terror as we lowered an extraordinary car bristling with extraordinary instruments, onto the surface of Mars from a crane held aloft in that alien sky by rockets. Many thought it was impossible because nothing quite like it had ever been done before. You and your family remember applauding as a replica of that rover rolled by in the Inaugural Parade.
Over the last few years, Congress has added back funding for the Planetary Program that the Office of Management and Budget has cut. Now, we all understand it’s a push-and-pull process; a negotiation. But planetary science deserves special attention because it is special. It’s an extraordinary value which we should maintain and even increase our investment.
We recommend that Planetary Science receive 1.5 billion dollars a year. The Planetary Science division of the space program accomplishes extraordinary things because it is extraordinary. We want to look for signs of life on other worlds — places like Jupiter’s moon, Europa; Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. That work is being done by our planetary explorers — scientists and engineers who really are seeking signs of life on another world. Such a discovery would be astounding. It would be, as so many astronomical discoveries have been through the years, a way to change the course of human history.
Planetary exploration not only brings us astonishing discoveries from other worlds. It inherently leads to innovation, because we invest in solving problems which have never been solved before. That in turn creates new businesses and economic growth. But more importantly, supporting a robust space program raises everyone’s expectations of what’s possible. With a space program, everyone in our society comes to believe and expect that any problem we face can be solved. It’s inherently optimistic. It’s part of our National character.
So, Mr. President, we strongly recommend that you make sure that funding for the Planetary Science Program is held at least 1.5 billion dollars a year. It will keep our current missions flying, it will lead to new missions, and it will lead to amazing new innovations, new businesses, and new discoveries in the future. It will help us change the world. Thank you.
There’s also a copy of the full text on the Planetary Society’s website, but it differs in one small detail — that the 1.5 billion the Planetary Science Program is asking for only accounts for less than 10 percent of NASA’s budget, which in turn is less than 0.5% of the entire federal budget. When you put it that way
In case you’re new to the site, we’re all very pro-space over here and would certainly love to see the Planetary Society’s efforts succeed. If you’re like us and want to get involved, there’s a letter writing campaign going on over at their website, and you can tweet about it using the hashtag #FundPlanetary.
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