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The Argument for NASA Earth Science

March 13, 2015

Many people have expressed concern over Senator Ted Cruz’s appointment to Chairman of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness. Yesterday, Senator Cruz confronted NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden over NASA’s core mission, which Cruz believes should not include Earth science.

It’s an interesting change of pace I suppose – having a Congressman who likes NASA and space, but doesn’t want to spend money on research and observations immediately relevant and useful to people on Earth. Hey, I love space exploration above all else too, so thank you Ted Cruz, keep the money coming!

But the argument for having NASA fund Earth science is actually super simple. Monitoring and studying the Earth on a global scale can only be done from space, and therefore you need your space agency.

For more information, check out the letter the American Geophysical Union wrote today to Ted Cruz.

I would think most people in Congress would be thrilled to hear that our nation’s aeronautics and space agency is not only pushing the frontiers of knowledge, exploring our solar system and universe, inspiring our country and the rest of the world, and making kids dream, but also providing data for farmers, resource managers, and firefighters, and monitoring our air quality, water, and land use.

Isn’t that the common complaint of most NASA funding naysayers, that we have to focus on ourselves first and our problems on Earth before spending extra money on space? Well here we have the opposite complaint, but it seems to me both sides should be pleased because, actually, NASA does both!

Ted Cruz asked what NASA’s core mission is, and Charlie Bolden referenced the 1958 Space Act that established NASA. In that act, the first sentence under “Declaration of Policy and Purpose” states:

The Congress hereby declares that it is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.

And on NASA’s website, NASA states its vision as:

To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

Earth science falls under that, no argument.

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