Is nasa doing anything to advance the science of cosmology?

1. Mar 31, 2006

wolram

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. Mar 31, 2006

AlphaNumeric

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....

3. Mar 31, 2006

Staff: Mentor

And, of course, most of the telescopes that they send up do cosmological research.

4. Mar 31, 2006

wolram

WMAP and GPB, seem almost token projects, what good will come from sending men to mars ? has bush an interest in ticker tape production ?

5. Mar 31, 2006

Azael

Is a financial reason always needed? Isnt the reason "because we can and want to" enough 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....

6. Mar 31, 2006

Norman

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...

7. Apr 1, 2006

Janus

Staff Emeritus
What makes cosmology more worthy of funding than say, planetary science?

8. Apr 2, 2006

Vincent Vega

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.

9. Apr 2, 2006

SpaceTiger

Staff Emeritus
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 http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/" [Broken], 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.

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10. Apr 2, 2006

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
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

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 [Broken]
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 [Broken]

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11. Apr 2, 2006

SpaceTiger

Staff Emeritus
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".

12. Apr 2, 2006

wolram

May be it should be the admins that are sent to mars then ?

13. Apr 2, 2006

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
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.

14. Apr 2, 2006

SpaceTiger

Staff Emeritus
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.

15. Apr 2, 2006

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
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.

16. Apr 2, 2006

Vincent Vega

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.

17. Apr 3, 2006

DM

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.

18. Apr 3, 2006

Entropy

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.

19. Apr 3, 2006

wolram

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

20. Apr 9, 2006

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
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.

21. Apr 15, 2006

WarrenPlatts

Only someone without any background in geology will say that robots are as good as actual humans. Ask any field geologist. There is no substitute for getting out there and walking around. What we have learned about the Moon from the manned Apollo missions could not have been duplicated by robots. Would a robot have found the Genesis Rock that caught Jim Irwin's trained eye? I don't think so.

The problem is coming up with a way to fund manned exploration of the Moon and Mars, without gutting the rest of NASA's important projects. I believe there is a way, but I suspect that most of you will not like the idea.

22. Apr 26, 2006

Michael Mozina

I completely disagree. NASA continues to provide the lions share of the budget to develop many satellite systems that are in fact providing incredible insights into the cosmos on many different wavelengths. No organization is immune from politics and waste, but IMO NASA is still the heart and soul of space exploration for the time being.

I for one will be tickled pink when the private sector takes over from the government, but I fully support NASA and it's efforts, even if I don't support every single decision they make.

23. Apr 27, 2006

wolram

Maybe, i am just greedy, i do not care a jot what mars is made of, i do care
about how mars came to be though, and all the fundamentals.

24. May 13, 2006

scott_alexsk

What did Deep Impact yield? I have just been curious.
-scott

25. May 13, 2006

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus