Global Economic Crisis Accentuates Need for Science, Earth Observations and Space Programs to Create a Positive Future

For Immediate Release
October 21, 2008

Mat Kaplan
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

Science is an imperative. Space is not a luxury. We cannot walk away from these endeavors without damaging our future on this planet.

In light of the economic turmoil currently roiling nations around the globe, The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors believes that it is vital that we not lose sight of the importance and long-term economic benefit of maintaining a strong commitment to scientific research, including space exploration. Today the Board issued the following statement:

To safeguard humanity's home planet and better understand the universe that surrounds it, we need a vibrant and diverse space program, forged through global cooperation that shares the tasks, shares the benefits, and shares the costs. Whatever the immediate economic problems may be, we believe that strong space programs should continue to be important priorities for both the US and other nations.

From monitoring Earth from space to studying long-term climate change on other worlds, the space program enables scientists to paint the big picture – helping us to better understand the global forces that affect us all. No one nation alone benefits from better understanding that picture, and to paint it large and detailed enough, no one nation alone can bear the expense.

Space exploration programs not only provide a peaceful context for global engagement, but also contribute to skilled workforces and new technologies in participating nations, inspiring students to enter science and engineering fields. Observing Earth from space and understanding our planetary environment are as crucial to our survival as are the basics of a good economy.

As Voyager 1 prepared to leave our planetary neighborhood, Carl Sagan, co-founder of The Planetary Society, suggested the spacecraft be turned for one last look at its home planet. The resulting image of Earth as a single blue point of light gave us a profound new view of our world – from a perspective possible only through space exploration.

Sagan wrote, “ It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors affirmed this statement in Boston, where they held their semi-annual meeting. Planetary scientist Jim Bell assumed the helm as the Society’s new president, succeeding Neil deGrasse Tyson, whose term has ended. The Planetary Society also added two new board members: Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman’s Space Technology sector; and Bijal "Bee" Thakore, Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific, Space Generation Advisory Council.

The Planetary Society’s other board members include Chairman of the Board Dan Geraci, Vice President Bill Nye, Heidi Hammel, Scott Hubbard, Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., Lon Levin, Chris McKay, Bruce Murray, Elon Musk, Joseph Ryan, Steven Spielberg and George Yancopoulos.

About The Planetary Society

With a global community of more than 2 million space enthusiasts, The Planetary Society is the world’s largest and most influential space advocacy organization. Founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman and today led by CEO Bill Nye, we empower the public to take a meaningful role in advancing space exploration through advocacy, education outreach, scientific innovation, and global collaboration. Together with our members and supporters, we’re on a mission to explore worlds, find life off Earth, and protect our planet from dangerous asteroids. To learn more, visit