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Voyagers - - you're fired?

  1. Mar 16, 2005 #1

    Phobos

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    Voyagers - - you're fired!?

    http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050307/pf/434125a_pf.html

    Inevitable I suppose, but maybe we could hold a bake sale or something to help out. :smile:

    First Hubble, now this.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2005 #2
    HOW DARE THEY???

    They dare to turn off the almighty, charismatic voyagers which have been resilient enough to survive through 4 Gas giants and through intergalactic space?!??!

    One of the greatest engineering works, and they now want to trash it...for money. Wtf? If they turn it off, we will most probably never see such poetic and adventurous space probes ever again.
     
  4. Mar 16, 2005 #3
    Cheer up! Vacuum is great for long-term storage, and I sure hope that by the end of this century someone will catch up to the Voyagers and Pioneers and give them each a swift relativistic kick in the rear.
     
  5. Mar 16, 2005 #4
    It is rather discomforting news, another instance where politics and science should not be mixed. The loss of the Voyager probes means that they cannot gather valuable information on the fringes of the solar system like the heliopause that separates the heliosphere from the interstellar medium.

    From what I read that was the last objective of the Voyager probes and that it would be accomplished in only a few years. Surely they could have maintained funding until that time.
     
  6. Mar 16, 2005 #5

    Chronos

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    It would seem kind of dumb to pull the plug on Voyager. It only costs 4.2M per year and there is no other foreseeable opportunity to gather data that far out in the solar system. Cripes, 4.2M is chump change.
     
  7. Mar 17, 2005 #6

    Astronuc

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    Well, NASA operates at the whim of politicians who know or care little about science, unless of course it is in their district or gets them re-elected. Yeah, I am a cynic.

    On the other hand, the Voyager scientists should look outside of NASA for financial support (sign of the times). Sources for such work could be NSF, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Paul Allen, or some other philanthropic organization.

    I think many (in the US) have come to expect the government to dole out money for this project or that project. Well with the current political agenda in Washington, there is much less money for basic R&D. NASA and the DOE labs have had their budgets cut to the bone, and in some cases, fingers, and perhaps some limbs are at risk too!

    In 20 years, I have seen numerous corporate R&D programs decimated - all in the name of profit. That is the reality, and those of us in science and technology have to adapt to it.
     
  8. Mar 17, 2005 #7

    ohwilleke

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    My sentiments exactly. Imagine what it would cost, for example, to design a study from scratch to examine accellerations of objects in the fringe of the solar system. Here we have just such an experiment in place with no design or launch costs and no delays in implementation.
     
  9. Mar 17, 2005 #8

    selfAdjoint

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    What politicians care about is getting re-elected. There is a word for politicians who don't devote their earnest attention to that; the word is ex-politician.

    And who re-elects them? That small minority of the voters, themselves a minorty of the people, who vote steadily in off-year elections. If you want to influence any policy in congress you have to have a national organization that can address a large number of congressional districts with local people who are willing to put shoe leather into canvassing and a full complement of spin doctors to associate your policy with good things in these faithful voters' minds. This all costs money, too, so you'd better have an effective fund raising organisation. It's not impossible to do this; MADD did it on drunk driving, and the Brady bunch did it on guns. Why haven't space or science buffs done it? I am cynical too; I think too many people like to blame "the gummint" for the problems they are responsible for themselves.
     
  10. Mar 17, 2005 #9

    Phobos

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    A good idea...that's what the SETI folks did when their NASA funding was eliminated by Congress.
     
  11. Mar 17, 2005 #10

    Phobos

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    Seems like they (we!) have some influence, but not quite enough yet.

    e.g., prompting a national debate over Hubble (made NASA/Congress reconsider their initial decision), they're keeping the hopes for a Pluto mission alive, etc.

    "they" being groups such as The Planetary Society, etc.
     
  12. Mar 17, 2005 #11
    Not to turn this into a political thread, but the Voyager program and all other scientific grants should take precedence over wars of an imperalistic nature. But then again, scientists do not rule the world (unfortunately) and as Astronuc said, we are at the whim of politicans.

    Anyway, if one actually studies the government expenditures (from any almanac or even the GAO or CBO), the U.S. could easily increase spending (im talking about at least quadrupling) for NASA or the NSF so long as the U.S. isn't running up interest on foreign loans (2nd biggest expense) and defense spending (1st biggest expense).

    But, of course, we will never learn, and things like this will continue to happen.
     
  13. Mar 17, 2005 #12

    selfAdjoint

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    [rant]I've seen the ads and come ons in magazines like Ad Astra, and at the Voyage to Arcturus web site, but compared to a real high-powered campaign, they're rubes from the sticks, or a classical music radio station during pledge week. Like they're embarassed to be so crude. They should go get the MADD playbook and learn how to work up a real campaign. Years of inviting people to spend $25 to eat $1.50 worth of food at some cheap hall rented from the Knights of Columbus or the VFW. Much effort into building contact lists, not just depend on self-selected marks to walk in. And so on, and on. And it's all aimed at people who initially have no interest in space or whatever, and who will have to be wooed and won. We know that the Asperger types who shine in science can't do that themselves, but the just folks types who love space or colliders can doit, and they should. [/rant]
     
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