Today, Bill Nye, Executive Director of the Planetary Society, delivered more than 20,000 signed petitions supporting space exploration to Congress and the White House. The signatures came from Planetary Society members and supporters around the world.
Bill Nye had this to say:
"We hope that the voices of our 20,000-plus members and supporters, who took the time to ask the U.S. Congress and Administration to support planetary science and exploration, are heard. Our spacecraft are amazing. Built by the world's best engineers and scientists, they help us make discoveries that may very well change our world forever. Space exploration brings out the best in us. It is a worthy use of our intellect and treasure."
The text of the petitions read:
“I implore you to support NASA in its primary mission of space exploration. Please take a stand against letting vested interests legislate how to build rockets, while precious opportunities to advance science, technology and space exploration pass us by. By pioneering space exploration, NASA creates scientific and economic value for the future of our world.”
The Planetary Society collected the signatures over a several-month-long campaign. Through letters and a web site, space-exploration supporters contributed their names as a demonstration to policy-makers that there is widespread popular support – in the United States and around the world -- for learning about our solar system and the universe around us.
Over 31 years, the Planetary Society has conducted many petition campaigns, including a call to save the mission to Pluto. After the U.S. Administration cancelled it twice, NASA claimed its budget couldn't cover it, and Congress cut its funding, Planetary Society members and supporters rallied to save the mission – and now the New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to visit Pluto and other denizens of the Kuiper Belt.
After delivering the petitions from this latest campaign, Bill Nye hosted a luncheon at the U.S. House of Representatives for congressmen and their staffs. Titled "New Worlds and New Discoveries in Planetary Science," the luncheon included presentations from leading scientists about amazing recent discoveries, upcoming missions to the Moon, Jupiter and the latest Mars rover, and a discussion of the challenges ahead of sustaining a vibrant and exciting planetary science program.