It is hard to express the anger that comes with the following story. It appears that after refusing to cut billions in pork and wasteful earmarks, Congress and President Bush have cut the NASA’s budget and forced scientists to curtail their research on Mars. Scientists planned to put one of the twin Mars rovers to sleep and to try to meet the shortfall. Now, after a public outcry, NASA has rescinded the order.
We have for the first time in the history of universe placed two robots on another planet for long-term exploration. We are learning critical things everyday about Mars and its history. Yet, one of the rovers will be “put to sleep” to conserve funds that neither Congress nor the President is willing to supply. It amounts to $4 million. Of course, the amount is trivial in comparison to to the hundreds of billions wastes in Iraq, Afghanistan and countless pork barrel projects. It costs NASA about $20 million annually to keep the rovers running.
Even with the rampant corruption in Congress, one would hope that members or the President would be willing to set aside a modest sum for historic research on a distant program. At some point, citizens are actually going to react to a government devoid of public service. In the meantime, an invaluable scientific machine will sit dormant on Mars as the ultimately symbol of a failed political system.
After a torrent of criticism, NASA has rescinded the letter that revealed the plan. Click here The point,however, remains the same. It took a public outcry to prevent this madness. I commend the scientists for revealing the plan. The question is why none of the members of Congress or the President have taken efforts to guarantee full and even expanded funding for this unique program. Eventually these machines will fail. They are beyond their life expectancy now. We should be rushing to utilize these resources to the maximum degree, but none of our leaders seem to care a bit about such matters.
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