Why NASA’s discoveries matter

By on October 5, 2015

By Aaron Hartley–

Last week, NASA confirmed strong evidence that flowing water does, in fact, exist on present-day Mars, which leads to a higher possibility of life on the red planet.

This news comes just a few months after the New Horizons probe completed its 10-year journey to capture the first high-definition color photos of Pluto and its moon Charon. With all of this new information making its way into the public, a good amount of people may be wondering what the big deal is.
Since its formation in 1958 and the space race of the 1960s, NASA has been a leading administration in space exploration. However, in the past 30 years or so, the public’s perception and national focus on space exploration has plummeted.

NASA’s budget has gone from a peak of around four percent of the national budget to around 0.4 percent today. Despite this, a poll conducted in the 90s showed that a majority of Americans believed at least 20 percent of the national budget was for NASA. In a time where cutting taxes and budget restraints are considered top priority for the government, programs like aeronautics research and exploration take a backseat in the public eye.
This should not be the case. In today’s world of cynicism and fatalism, we need the sense of wonder and desire to discover that NASA brought to America in the 60s more than ever. An effort needs to be made to reignite the people’s interest in the new and mysterious.

“The chaotic beauty of space unites us and shows us how valuable life really is,” Denny Joy, a computer science major with a longtime interest in NASA. “[It gives us] a sense of interconnectedness that pushes our curiosity and inspires a new generation of explorers.”
This is why people should care when new photos dwarf planets are released or when liquids are discovered on our neighboring planets; it gives us something to think about beyond the incomprehensibly small confines of our own planet.

Putting our interests towards the unknown and alien is both more stimulating and important for the progression of our species—more than whatever petty and nearsighted problems may be the hot topic of discussion. To better our society, we need to be able to look towards the future and strive for it. Our interests need to expand beyond the stars if we’re to better our lives on Earth.

 

Photo Courtesy / Makezine.com

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