December 9, 2013
Bill Nye Asks Obama To Embrace Planetary Exploration, Fund Science
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Bill Nye “The Science Guy” sent out an open letter to President Barack Obama asking him to embrace a vision of planetary exploration. Nye, who is CEO of The Planetary Society, asked President Obama to grant more funding to science, specifically that which is focused on studying our Solar System.
“Mr. President, the space program, NASA, is the best brand the United States has,” Nye said in the open letter. “Right now what NASA does best is explore the solar system through the planetary science program.”
Bill, who rose to fame through his television show aimed at teaching kids about science, asked specifically for more funding to be given to NASA’s planetary science program. He said this program is too important of a subject to fall to politics.
“People around the world shared the seven minutes of terror as we lowered an extraordinary car bristling with extraordinary instruments onto the surface of Mars from a crane held aloft in that alien sky by rockets. Many thought it was impossible because nothing like it had ever been done before. You and your family remember applauding as a replica of that rover rolled by in the inaugural parade,” Nye said in the open letter.
Congress added back funding for the planetary program after the Office of Management and Budget cut it out. Nye stressed that we need to look past the politics and ensure that planetary sciences gets the attention it deserves.
The science guy recommended planetary science receive $1.5 billion dollars per year, which is less than 10 percent of NASA’s budget and less than 0.5 percent of the federal budget. Bill said the extra money would help keep missions flying, ensure new missions are created and lead to new innovations and businesses.
“The planetary science division of the space program accomplishes extraordinary things, because it is extraordinary,” Nye said. “We want to look for signs of life on other worlds, places like Jupiter's moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus. That work is done by our planetary explorers, scientists and engineers, who really are seeking signs of life on another world. Such a discovery would be astounding. It would, as so many astronomical discoveries have, change the course of human history.”
He said planetary exploration leads to innovation because we invest in solving problems that have never been solved before.
A new artificial heart approved for human trials is an example of how space exploration changes life on Earth. The artificial heart is fashioned partly from biological tissue and partly from miniature satellite equipment. Scientists at Carmat joined teams with aerospace engineers at Astrium in developing the artificial heart.
“With a space program, everyone in our society comes to believe and expect that any problem we face can be solved. It's inherently optimistic. It's part of our national character,” said Nye.