Here's the link to the WTOP story: http://www.wtop.com/904/3520946/NASA-Some-perspective-and-gratitude
Americans are aware of NASA but I do not think they realize how much NASA does http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/what_does_nasa_do.html#.UqS_4qWz7wI and for how little money wise. Do you know what NASA’s budget is for 2014? Thanks to our deadlocked and dysfunctional Congress there is no approved budget for the Government.
NASA is looking at roughly $17.7 billion requested For FY2014 http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/750614main_NASA_FY_2014_Budget_Estimates-508.pdf. That breakdowns to roughly 15 cents a day per American and less than 1 cent a day per human on the planet. I include this last figure as much of what NASA does benefits all of humanity, not just Americans.
To put NASA’s budget in perspective, consider these factoids - Americans spend $61 BILLION on their pets per year http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/05/22/americans-spend-61-billion-on-pets-annually. Also, a white collar criminal was ordered to pay $170 BILLION in restitution to his victims http://www.crimemuseum.org/Bernie_Madoff
NASA’s budget is under review by OMB and facing absurd cuts like shutting down Cassini at Saturn - a perfectly functioning spacecraft monitoring the whole Saturnian system. Hear what Bill Nye the Science Guy says in an “Open Letter” to President Obama and what you can do to help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XkWetbQHWlk
Bill Nye addresses NASA’s planetary exploration budget and here are NASA’s current major planetary missions (this list does not include NASA’s international participation with other space agency missions):
MESSENGER at Mercury
Moon - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, LADEE
Mars - Rovers Opportunity and Curiosity; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter; MAVEN enroute
Jupiter - JUNO enroute
Saturn - Cassini
Pluto - New Horizons enroute
Interstellar space - Voyager 1 and 2
Here is a listing of all NASA space missions past, present and future, including their websites - it is a long list indeed
Here are a few highlights from that list:
Hubble Space Telescope (HST)
James Webb Space Telescope - HST’s successor
International Space Station
Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and Space Launch System (SLS) that will return the U.S. to manned spaceflight capability that can go to low Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and the asteroids.
NASA provides 24 hour a day monitoring of our star, the Sun using Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) A and B (B sees the farside of the Sun), Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). These spacecraft provide realtime data on the Sun to help determine space weather and its effects on spacecraft and Earth, providing advance warning for solar storms.
NASA also studies Earth http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/#.UqS4RqWz7wI including:
Weather - hurricanes and tornadoes
Global climate changes
Space weather and its affect on aviation http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/25oct_aviationswx/
Planetary defense falls under NASA as well since it is searching for asteroids and comets that could pose a threat to life on Earth via the Near Earth Objects (NEO) Program http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov
Whatever defense is mounted against a future comet or asteroid that has our name on it we will need NASA to carry it out. As I am fond of saying, “the dinosaurs are dead because they didn’t have a space program”.
Add into this already impressive mix new technology, astronomy, aeronautics, astronautics, commercial space development, education, public outreach, jobs, inspiration and hope.
It adds up to a lot of bang for the buck.
Thank you NASA for all that you do for the planet, humanity, and America. Our future and survival lies in space and NASA will get us there IF given the necessary resources.
Sky Guy in Icy VA