Future of Space Programs
by RTurnbull on January 29, 2014 - 4:27pm
Kenneth Chang's article, The Final Frontier’s Financial Limits (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/science/space/the-final-frontiers-financial-limits.html?ref=science&_r=0), talks about the future of N.A.S.A.'s budget concerning planetary exploration and space exploration.
N.A.S.A.’s planetary sciences and exploration budget is too low to continue operating missions which have exceeded their projected operational time. These extended missions include: Messenger (Mercury), Opportunity (Mars), Orbiter (Mars), and Cassini (Saturn) among many others. Curiosity (Mars Rover) and Cassini are both expensive missions to continue to operate, even during their extended mission capacity. However, with the current budget only on may stay, if the budget is not extended or renewed to make room for both.
With Curiosity being newer project and its destination being closer to Earth, it is the likely choice to stay if one of them must be cut. Cassini is only scheduled to remain active until 2017 where it will plummet into Saturn. Its mission until then is to make twenty-two orbits between Saturn and its innermost rings. These orbits could give the scientific community a better look at Saturn, its gravity, and its magnetic fields. With its death, it may glimpse an understanding of the rotational speed of Saturn, which is currently only estimated by the uppermost clouds. In order to continue extended missions, newer missions are put on hold because of budgeting problems. One of these missions is the Europa missions. Europa is one of Jupiter’s moons, which is believed to have water beneath its icy surface.
With the budget cuts to programs in N.A.S.A. many past, present and future projects are at risk of being shelved. In recent years, we've seen the reduction and elimination of the human component in space exploration (in the United States). These cuts also eliminate projects that search the sky for newer galaxies, collapse of galaxies, astroids, meteors, and other space objects that could pass near Earth, or even collide with it. The cosmos is vast and mankind may never fully understand it all, but the cuts to the budgets of organization who explore the vast unknown are not what humankind needs. Humankind needs, eventually, to spread out throughout the galaxy because Earth is becoming overpopulated, and overpollutioned to sustain rate of growth that is currently held. As always there are two possibilities in the Universe for other intellegent life: there is none, or their is. If there is none, and we are it, then humankind needs to spread its knowledge and life to other worlds; if there is other intellegent life, then humankind needs to spread to meet them.
With all the budget cuts in science programs across the United States, some questions arises: where does the money from the cuts go? Do they go into military, medical care, the pockets of politicians, the pockets of administration, or maybe it just vanishes.
Since science and space programs have been effective in the past, and currently, why are these programs being cut out of the budget? Maybe governments wants results now, and not when another leader takes over and can claim that they made this happen, or that happen under their government.