Thursday, June 7, 2018

New Study Suggests NASA's Priorities Are Out of Line with Public

 According to a new survey of 2,541 Americans by Pew Research Centre, the goals of NASA appear to be out of line with public priorities.
 The survey asked respondents about their top priorities for the agency, and the highest support returned was to "monitor key parts of the Earth's climate system" (63 percent) and "monitor asteroids/objects that could hit the Earth" (62 percent). Sending astronauts to Mars (18 percent), and the Moon (13 percent) were amongst the least popular priorities for respondents.
 These results are striking considering that public priorities appear to be the inverse of NASA"s spending priorities, which are set by the White House and Congress. A good amount of NASA's budget, approximately $4 billion annually, is spent developing a large Space Launch System rocket, ground systems and the Orion spacecraft which will send humans to the Moon and Mars. On the other hand, funding for Earth-science-related work and asteroid detection has been reduced significantly or is almost completely non-existent.
  "The vast majority of the public thinks that we should have a space program that saves Earth," said Phil Larson, a former Obama White House official who now is assistant dean at the University of Colorado College of Engineering. "That means funding climate research and ensuring that we can track all threatening objects from space and have a plan for what to do with them—in essence, be smarter than the dinosaurs."

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