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Web Generation Apathetic About NASA’s Moon & Mars Missions – Unacceptable! December 28, 2006

Posted by Dan in Main, Must Read, News, Politics, Science, Snipets, Technology.

It is completely unacceptable for anyone to be apathetic towards space exploration. Have we learned nothing from the countless craters that pocket other planets? Have we forgotten the lesson of the dinosaurs? Ok… so maybe we weren’t around when the dinosaurs were (extreme religious conservatives would have you believe otherwise), but there’s one thing everyone can agree on: There are no more dinosaurs! They’re all dead, and that happened suddenly.

The leading theory is that a giant asteroid smashed into Earth on the southern edge of what is now the Caribbean Sea. This is supported by a layer of Iridium (an element rarely found on Earth, but common in asteroid), that circled the globe approximately 65 million years ago. If you dig down deep enough, you’ll find it. Geologically, after that occurrence, there are no more dinosaurs. Fossils from dinosaurs can only be found below that layer.

When we look at other planets, or even the moon, we see just how frequently these strikes occur…. they’re called craters. Several things have contributed to the fact that our planet doesn’t look that way. The atmosphere deflects or burns up most of the rocks thrown at us, and the moon sometimes acts like a giant broom, using its gravity to draw NEOs (Near Earth Objects) away from us.

However, it is only a matter of time before another dinosaur killer strikes the Earth… It will happen, that is certain. If we, as humans, have no where to go, we will be just as extinct as the dinosaurs. Imagine, a cloud of dust so severe it encircles the planet, blocking out all sun light. It would make global warming look like a hiccup. All surface plant life would die, and with it, all surface animal life. If we are to learn anything from fossils, it is that after one of these strikes, only a very small number of creatures survive. The planet would take decades, maybe even centuries to recover.

Make no mistake about it, space exploration is about ensuring the future of our species. We must have somewhere else to go! We’re backed into a corner as it is. Thus, we must support NASA’s goal of putting men back on the Moon, and sending them on towards Mars. We must, in fact, support any efforts to disperse throughout the Universe. There is no goal more important, no cause more worthy. If we don’t spread out, we will die out.

AP Article:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — Young Americans have high levels of apathy about NASA’s new vision of sending astronauts back to the moon by 2017 and eventually on to Mars, recent surveys show.

Concerned about this lack of interest, NASA’s image-makers are taking a hard look at how to win over the young generation — media-saturated teens and 20-somethings growing up on YouTube and Google and largely indifferent to manned space flight.

“If you’re going to do a space exploration program that lasts 40 years, if you just do the math, those are the guys that are going to carry the tax burden,” said Mary Lynne Dittmar, president of a Houston company that surveyed young people about the space program.

The 2004 and 2006 surveys by Dittmar Associates Inc. revealed high levels of indifference among 18- to 25-year-olds toward manned trips to the moon and Mars.

The space shuttle program is slated to end in 2010 after construction of the international space station is completed with 13 more shuttle flights. The recent 13-day mission by Discovery’s seven astronauts was part of that long-running construction job.

When the shuttles are retired they will be replaced by the Orion spacecraft, which NASA hopes takes humans back to the moon and then on to Mars.

Even though the Dittmar surveys offer a bleak view, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin believes ventures to the moon and Mars will excite young people more than the current shuttle trips to low-Earth orbit.

“If we make it clear that the focus of the United States space program for the foreseeable future will be out there, will be beyond what we do now, I think you won’t have any problem at all reacquiring the interest of young people,” Griffin said in a recent interview.

At an October workshop attended by 80 NASA message spinners, young adults were right up there with Congress as the top two priorities for NASA’s strategic communications efforts.

Tactics encouraged by the workshop included new forms of communication, such as podcasts and YouTube; enlisting support from celebrities, like actors David Duchovny (“X-Files”) and Patrick Stewart (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”); forming partnerships with youth-oriented media such as MTV or sports events such as the Olympics and NASCAR; and developing brand placement in the movie industry.

Outside groups have offered ideas too, such as making it a priority to shape the right message about the next-generation Orion missions.

And NASA should take a hint from Hollywood, some suggested.

“The American public engages with issues through people, personalities, celebrities, whatever,” said George Whitesides, executive director of the National Space Society, a space advocacy group. “When you don’t have that kind of personality, or face, or faces associated with your issue, it’s a little bit harder for the public to connect.”

He said the agency could pick the crews for the moon and Mars trips earlier so the public can connect the faces with the far-off missions of the future.

“You can take advantage of these personalities and these stories about triumph over adversity to create heroes, if you will,” said workshop leader Peggy Finarelli, a former NASA official who is now a researcher at George Mason University.

But embracing YouTube is no guarantee that NASA will get the results it wants.

Ali Kuwait, 19, who is studying civil engineering at Brevard Community College, said he recently watched a clip on YouTube that made a convincing case that NASA’s moon landings between 1969 and 1972 were faked.

Repeating an old myth that NASA has not been able to kill, Kuwait said: “The moon thing was not real.”

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1. Chris - February 23, 2007

A problem which you discuss on your site is very important for me. Thank you for your resume.

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