The Politics of Space

While we think the works of scientific groups who strive to understand our universe can operate regardless of our political climate, budgets and projects of organizations like NASA depend on the support of the government. The budget request sent to Congress at the beginning of this year for NASA includes budget cuts that will impact many of the programs and missions of NASA. Many of the satellites NASA planned to use to investigate our climate and our atmosphere were suggested to be defunded including OCO-3 which aims to discover how carbon dioxide is put into or sucked out of our atmosphere. Not only are future programs slated to be defunded, but existing satellites are set to be turned off. The DSCOVR satellite looks at solar weather, but also has instruments focused on the light side of earth looking at UV radiation, ozone, and aerosols in our atmosphere. Only the earth facing instruments are set to be defunded, so that existing stream of data would just go to waste. While most of the NASA budget cuts impact climate change satellites and measures, it also impacts NASA’s education measures which try to increase interest in science and engineering careers. Another, smaller, mission that is supposed to be cut is the Europa lander that was going to be sent with the Europa Clipper which will do 40 to 45 flybys of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The Europe Clipper is still in the works, but it will no longer have a lander module to land on the surface of Europa to learn about its surface. While the government does control the budget of NASA and other scientific organizations, there are many problems when politics interferes with how we explore and learn about our universe. We need to learn more about space, but we also need to continue to search Earth in order to better understand our climate and atmosphere, and how it is changing.

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2 Comments

  1. I love that you wrote about this because I think this is a very hot topic in a lot of my classes. How do you think we can combat this budget cut? Maybe working with privately owned companies in order to continue our space exploration? We definitely need to find a way, because learning more about our earth and the space around it is crucial to our survival

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    1. I think there are definitely many ways we can combat budget cuts to publicly funded programs like NASA, and I think part of it is through private companies like SpaceX and such. However, I also think it wouldn’t be that difficult to find the money for these programs if people were more educated and excited about space exploration and all the ways it can help us.

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