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Is nasa doing anything to advance the science of cosmology?

  1. Mar 31, 2006 #1

    wolram

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    Is nasa doing anything to advance the science of cosmology? my personal
    veiw is that this agency is a total waste of money, money that could be spent, doing robust scientific cosmological related experiments, what do you think?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2006 #2
    Bags of NASA projects are science based. Probes to the planets, Hubble, launching various satellites (did NASA launch WMAP and Gravity B?).

    Unfortunately they will (and have) cut a lot of these science projects back due to Bush's new commitment to put Man on Mars in the coming decades, but with no meaningful budget increase to do it....
     
  4. Mar 31, 2006 #3

    russ_watters

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    And, of course, most of the telescopes that they send up do cosmological research.
     
  5. Mar 31, 2006 #4

    wolram

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    WMAP and GPB, seem almost token projects, what good will come from sending men to mars ? has bush an interest in ticker tape production ?
     
  6. Mar 31, 2006 #5
    Is a financial reason always needed? Isnt the reason "because we can and want to" enough:confused: Simply to satisfie the human ego and drive to explore.

    Maby to make kids motivated to get into science and engineering again instead of dreaming about beeing a rap star and buying bling bling....
     
  7. Mar 31, 2006 #6
    NASA funds my Ph.D. so I have to say that they do plenty to forward research. There are a couple hundred students right now whose ph.d. research is completely funded by NASA.

    Don't you think the number of kids who were motivated to go into science from the Apollo missions was worth the cost? Imagine all the kids it will inspire when we go to Mars... in 20 years...
     
  8. Apr 1, 2006 #7

    Janus

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    What makes cosmology more worthy of funding than say, planetary science?
     
  9. Apr 2, 2006 #8
    I always understood going to Mars as bragging rights. Russians send man-made satellite. Americas phoenix NASA is born to revive dignity. Russians send man into "space". We step foot on the Moon. They do MIR, we set up shop on Mars. There's a reason why America causes a brain-drain on other nations. I guess sometimes they must study rocks on closer planets to study the Universe in its totality.
     
  10. Apr 2, 2006 #9

    SpaceTiger

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    The problem is not a favoring of once science to another, but rather the disfavoring of science in general. By itself, I have no problem with the push to go to Mars, but unfortunately, it has resulted in a cut of funds from scientific missions.

    The primary focus of NASA in the coming years is expected to be the James Webb Space Telescope, the next great observatory (like the Hubble Space Telescope) with a focus on infrared observations. Fortunately, it can do a lot of cosmology, especially in relation to high-z galaxies and reionization. Unfortunately, it means NASA is putting most of its eggs in one basket. Don't be surprised if foreign agencies begin to dominate space-borne astronomy in the near future.
     
  11. Apr 2, 2006 #10

    Astronuc

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    I think it unfair to blame NASA for what the don't do or can't do due to limit funds. The US Congress provides the funding, and NASA has to make do. NASA does aeronautical science and engineering, as well as space exploration, astrophysics, and various astronomical sciences.

    NASA's budget - summary - http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/1987main_summary.pdf
    Details - http://www.nasa.gov/about/budget/AN_Budget_04_detail.html

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/02/0208_060208_nasa.html - for 2007

    Instead, consider on what Congress spends 10's or 100's of $billions - the War in Iraq alone costs about $100 billion per year -

    and DOD budget - The budget requested $401.7 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Department of Defense (DoD) in 2005.
    http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2004/nr20040202-0301.html

    And in 2007 - DOD’s $439.3 billion budget puts top-level support and money behind capabilities, not just programs, to push transformation.
    http://www.gcn.com/print/25_4/38295-1.html
    Almost 27 times that of NASA's budget.

    And look at the DOT budget

    out of a total budget of $65-66 billion - 4 times that of NASA's budget!

    Budget of the United States Government
    Fiscal Year 2007 - http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/budget.html
     
  12. Apr 2, 2006 #11

    SpaceTiger

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    Also keep in mind that the leaders of NASA don't necessarily speak for the majority of the people that work there. In many cases, NASA administrators are just folks who gained favor with the country's leading party and are trying to "climb the ladder".
     
  13. Apr 2, 2006 #12

    wolram

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    May be it should be the admins that are sent to mars then ?
     
  14. Apr 2, 2006 #13

    Astronuc

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    Well, it's not so simple. Every time a new administration comes into the Executive Branch (White House), the administrators of NASA and the National Labs changes - which means priorities and missions change according to the whims of the president and the majority/seniority in Congress.

    The current administrator, Michael Griffin seems to be much better than his two immediate predecessors Daniel S. Goldin (1992–2001) and Sean O'Keefe (2001–2005) - based on what I have read publicly, as well as from inside information.
     
  15. Apr 2, 2006 #14

    SpaceTiger

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    I don't see the distinction you're making. Administrators can choose not to go with the party line, but then they might be fired or denied future positions. NASA is a government agency, so even if the scientists disagree with something, the politicians (with administrators as their tool) still have the power to enforce it.
     
  16. Apr 2, 2006 #15

    Astronuc

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    Yes, some administators will go with the party line, while others will do as they see as in the best interest of the agency or science. I think Griffin is doing what he sees as best for the agency.

    See Griffin's policy on communication for NASA -
    http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/communication_policy.html

    The point is that budgets are dictated by the priorities of the president and Congress - and right now they seem h***-bent on waging war.
     
  17. Apr 2, 2006 #16
    Not many people keep up with Hubble. A lot of Americans don't care one whit about probes and blips of Hubble's deep field view on Headline news. Just wait, when we go back to the Moon and then step foot on Mars, that will bring more attention to NASA. To most in the academic world science is the most precious thing we have, other tax payers feel different. Hopefully we master nano, and then NASA can send stuff up for cheaper and longer.
     
  18. Apr 3, 2006 #17

    DM

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    NASA has set its attention on new material properties. They plan to investigate the full effects of radiation acted on different suit materials. Apparently they've already designed new polymer textiles.
     
  19. Apr 3, 2006 #18
    I think the manned mission to Mars is a waste of money and an unnecessary risk of human lives. Within two or three decades robots should be able to do most of the [physical] things humans can do at a fraction of the the price. I'm willing to wait, and it's not like we NEED to send people to Mars right away, not like it's going anywhere.
     
  20. Apr 3, 2006 #19

    wolram

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    Just how much can we learn by sending men to mars ? i am not critising now,
    i would be interested in nasa,s goals.
     
  21. Apr 9, 2006 #20

    Astronuc

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    Adding fuel to the fire -

    Space agency's 2020 vision shortsighted, say campus astronomers
    As NASA eyes Mars, deep cuts to its science budget could have 'devastating' impact on smaller-scale research projects, opportunities for students - http://www.berkeley.edu/news/berkeleyan/2006/04/05_space.shtml

    There is clearly competition for those who wish to do pure science and robotic/unmanned exploration and those who advocate manned exploration.
     
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