More Information for the Average Nerd
November 26, 2012
I very much support the planetary scientists who have expressed their vision for further exploration. My comments are for the rest of us who are not able to participate directly, but follow the work of scientists and engineers in exploration and discovery. We are hungry for real information on what is learned by scientists and about the technical details of all aspects of space craft design and operation. We grab onto the little bits of third grade level information in the media or NASA's condescending sparse reports. Techies are curious and crave scientific and technical detail which is challenging.
The Planetary Society has made a great difference here in furnishing interesting content. And the telepresence made possible thru access to the many rover images has done more to make us feel a part of exploration than any other activity over the history of the space program. My hope is that access to the interested public continues to be enhanced by on line access to images and scientific information returned from solar system missions. I hope that scientific reports will be made more generally available. Work that has been done by the Planetary Society and by a few book authors to report on mission scientific findings is highly valued. I hope there will be more of this.
Time and expense of accessing journal articles is hard for the non-specialist. My hope is that more detailed information on line, in magazine articles, or in books will be available in the future which report on the scientific results from solar system exploration. I'm not opposed to manned missions, but experience has shown that there is much more participation by the public in robotic missions than in manned missions.
The manned missions are appealing to the general public which helps with funding. But if the same or lower funding was used on unmanned missions much more could be done on projects which are important to the part of the public who have a sustained interest and which have great scientific value. It would seem to make sense to continue a low level of research and development for manned space flight. Funding might be increased when advancing technology makes the economics and other problems of these missions manageable. I do think the USA should support its commitments to the International Space Station.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.