It is clear that NASA has many things going on right now, the most popular one being getting humans to Mars. There is a lot of controversy on whether or not this is what they should be spending the government’s money on right now. Most think that from the two billion dollars that has been added to budget, more time should be in space exploration and less on climate research. This is just a small part of NASA’s endless projects. As of right now there are 13 agencies working on climate change and only one on space exploration.
When speaking of Mars, NASA is thinking of it as extinction insurance, because of the way our planet is right now. This is why they have been exploring Mars so consistently and are trying to find a realistic way humans could live on the far away planet. The fact is, NASA is making a lot of progress towards being able to send people to Mars. Not only are they exploring Mars, but they are exploring all of the planets in the solar system. They are also exploring interplanetary and interstellar space.
Many onlookers have complained about why NASA has been doing so much earth science research, especially since they are supposed to be for aeronautics and space. Charles Bolden, the former astronaut, has stated how critical it is for us to understand the Earth’s climate because it is the only place we have to live. It is not wasted time to be exploring what might help the Earth’s climate.
The United States are presently relying on Russian space shuttles in order to send astronauts to the International Space Station. This has frustrated critiques. Mr. Bolden said that as long as congress continues to fund the program that the shuttles will launch from United States soil again starting in 2017. It is a little bit embarrassing because the Russian’s are making jokes about the U.S. using a trampoline to complete these missions.
There is one project for NASA that will soon be coming to an end, the messenger that has been in orbit around Mercury. The messenger probe will supposedly run out of the propellant that has been keeping it in orbit. It will crash into Mercury at an estimate rate of 8,750 miles per hour, on April 30, on the side facing away from Earth. From all of NASA’s endless projects, this one has given us great insight into its atmosphere and how it was formed. The messenger was also able to tell us Mercury’s chemical composition, and also found frozen water on the surface. The messenger flew for 6 years and will finally take its crash landing into Mercury’s surface. The Messenger was absolutely a success for NASA, and the country as a whole.
Among NASA’s missions is the Asteroid Redirect Mission. The sold purpose of this mission to put a chunk of an asteroid into orbit around the moon. It will allow NASA to use autonomous robotic technology and Solar Electric Propulsion. Using the Asteroid Redirect Mission will be a test of the Space Launch System, this allows astronauts beyond low Earth orbit. Astronauts will also be landing on the Moon, which will also be used as a way-station on the astronauts trip to Mars.
There are private organizations like SpaceX and Mars One that were talking about doing trips to Mars. Bolden stated that trips to Mars will not be happening without the help of the government. Something like trips to Mars should only be handled with the utmost care and knowledge, nobody would do that better than NASA. Years ago NASA had much more funding from the government than it has now, but if they are to find what they really need, funding needs to be worked out.
Just recently, NASA finally released pictures of the planet Ceres, after the spacecraft Dawn finally arrived at the unexplored planet. From the pictures we can see that the planet has many craters and is very reflective. Whether that is water or some other substance they are not sure yet, it is hard to know from 21,000 miles. However, it should be orbiting closer soon, and scientists will be able to get a better understanding of what is there. The closer orbit will be about 9,000 miles away, and we will be able to see much more detail in new pictures. This is very exciting as it is one of the unexplored planets of our solar system.
It seems as though NASA is doing the best they can with what they have. Not only are they trying to get men to Mar’s, but they are exploring every planet and so many other facets of the solar system. NASA is just starting to scratch the surface with all of their endless projects, and people can not wait to see what happens in years to come. With all of the new projects and hopefully more funding they will really be able to make things come to fruition.
By Brooke Latu