Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Planetary Society

I recently joined the Planetary Society and have loved reading about the new astronomical issues. I am for more and more space exploration and think we need to put efforts towards it. I know it is hard to think about the money when Earth itself needs such work, but I find it to be of intellectual and human developmental importance. (Plus, Stephen Hawking said last year that mankind may not survive the century without finding other planets to live on--it's true that he said that!) This is an email I received that asks for more help to further space exploration.

Dear Member,

The disastrous anti-science, anti-exploration agenda
being foisted on NASA and Space Science has become more
dangerous than we ever imagined possible.

And the chief architect of this alarming trend is the
U.S. Administration.

Today, I am personally asking you to help fend off
these attackers.

Once you've read about these outrageous new assaults on
Space Science and on Exploration, I'm sure you'll want
to do everything you can to help fight back.

First, the Administration made devastating cuts to
the Space Science budget. This gave Congress and NASA
head Mike Griffin the clear message that science -
and the great adventure of robotic space exploration -
must no longer be an important part of NASA's mission.

In order to keep its supposed promise of "pay-as-you-go"
for its Vision for Space Exploration, the Administration
chose to slash funds and cancel planetary exploration
missions already in the works. Funds earmarked for
science research at universities and laboratories across
the United States were reallocated to pay back Shuttle
repair and recovery expenses that the Bush Administration
was unwilling to budget for.

What's ironic is that the Vision for Space Exploration
(which The Planetary Society still supports) specifically
slated the Shuttle for retirement in just a few short
years and mandated a new launch vehicle to replace it.
But now, the Administration is refusing to fund
its own Vision adequately. They would rather cancel
missions from the very part of NASA that
has been succeeding so gloriously -- the programs that
have brought us Mars Exploration Rovers, Cassini, Stardust,
Deep Impact and, of course, the Hubble Space Telescope.

NASA actually rewrote -- most likely under pressure from
the Administration -- NASA's long-standing Mission Statement,
the very foundation of everything the agency has strived,
and today strives, to achieve.

They had the audacity to remove the words "to understand
and protect the Earth" as one of NASA's primary goals.
This may, at first hearing, sound like a small change,
but its true import is astonishing in its flagrant
misunderstanding of science and of our own planet!From
global warming, hurricanes, tsunamis and other
devastating weather phenomena, to deforestation, the
plunder of our oceans, and the opening of the ozone hole,
among many other crucial research programs...NASA's
scientists -- Earth and other planetary scientists alike --
are there working. Much of the knowledge of these subjects
has been helped by our exploration of other worlds.

What's more, vital knowledge about our Earth is directly
applied to the space program -- to the exploration of the
cosmos, to missions in near-Earth orbit, to the dangers
of asteroids and comets, to the existence of black holes,
and to the impact of the Sun on Earth and other planets.

Now, in yet another slap at the value and future of Space
Science and Exploration, NASA head Mike Griffin unceremoniously
requested the resignations of two distinguished scientists
from the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). A third resigned
immediately thereafter. These are seasoned veterans with
long records of, and a dedication to, working with NASA.
They are also vocal supporters of Space Science, bold
individuals who objected to the Administration's mandate
that is forcing NASA to dramatically scale down a host of
science projects.

The scientists asked to resign were Eugene Levy, Rice
University Provost and Planetary Society President Wesley T.
Huntress Jr., former chief of science at NASA and now an
astrochemist at the Carnegie Institution. Charles Kennel,
highly respected Director of the Scripps Institute of
Oceanography and former chief of Earth sciences at NASA,
was the third to resign.

Whether these actions were political, or "merely" designed
to limit advice to that which was already decided by the
Bush Administration, they do not bode well for the future of
science at NASA. NASA head Mike Griffin is clearly between
a rock and a hard place.

How can we stand by and let Space Science
and Exploration die?

None of us can afford to retreat into the comfort of
silence and apathy. We do that at our own peril. For the
obliteration of science and missions of discovery will
surely affect all of us and future generations.

This is not just about NASA, it's about us, the Members
of The Planetary Society. You, me, all of us Society
Members around the world are the beacon of hope here.
We are the ones with the clout to reverse this threatened
decline of science. And we are the ones with the tools
and the power to fight back.

Together, we will make it happen!
To help, these are the first steps you must take:

First, sign a petition to President George W. Bush.
By signing this petition, you will be sending President
Bush your strong message that his attempt to obliterate
science and exploration is a failed policy,
and a dangerous one.
Sign the petition at:

Second, send an emergency contribution to the Society.
We're going to make noise, big noise -- through petitions
like the one you're signing today, through ads in major
newspapers and magazines, press conferences, direct mail
and the Internet.
Donate online at:

We have the support of scientists and other respected
experts all over the world who are lending their names and
voices to the Society's Save Our Science Campaign. But it will
take money - a lot of money - to make this Campaign a success.

We have some funds, but we're a bare-bones non-profit
that tries to keep our expenses as low as possible. That's
why we must rely on Members like you and other generous
supporters to help us foot the bill for all the critical
actions I've just described.

The more we raise, the more successful we'll be. We'll use
every gift wisely to fight these attacks, stop the
obliteration of science and exploration, and, hopefully,
get NASA back on the right track.

Will you help? We're really counting on you. Thanks.


Louis Friedman

P.S. If you haven't received it already, you will
probably be getting a letter about this campaign in
the mail. If you have already sent in your donation
and signed the petition, we thank you.


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