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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

NASA is still important

With the discovery of water on Mars, the National Aeronautrics and Space Administration (NASA) has been riding a wave of success over the past few months. Since 1966, the funding of NASA has dropped from 4.41% of the Federal budget, to only 0.50% of it. While water on Mars may seem irrelevant to our situation on Earth, and the budget reduction may seem justified, I would argue that NASA is still very important.

Starting in 1958 during the Cold War, NASA’s role in the United States’ history grew exponentially in the “space race” between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. During his administration, president John F. Kennedy vowed to put a man on the moon, and in 1969, we succeeded in doing just this. This was NASA’s crowning achievement, and will forever be a milestone in the history of space exploration.

So why is this important to us? How does NASA affect us now? Well let’s start with the discovery of water on Mars. This doesn’t seem too important, considering we have plenty of water on Earth. But it’s not about what the water does, it’s what the water can do. Carbon based life as we know it depends on water to exist, and the fact that we have actual proof that it exists on Mars possibly answers the age old question of whether or not Mars could support life; however it also asks an even bigger one: does it still? Mars could have supported life millions of years ago, but there is a possibility that it still does. Not life as in people, animals, and plants, but life as in microbes. Scientists have proven that life on Earth evolved from microbes, so if Mars has them, it could answer another important question that we have: can humans live on Mars?

Once again, how will this affect us now? Well, it doesn’t––yet. NASA isn’t a program for short term solutions, but long term ones. Mars is now a planet that we could potentially live on in the future. It would takes years of research and sending people there, but we have Mars as a “backup planet” if anything happens to Earth, say catastrophic global warming issues (or if Trump gets elected President). Nonetheless, it will be a while before any of that happens, but I strongly believe it’s worth the wait.

NASA also helps us understand our universe. They have satellites and telescopes scanning the cosmos for answers to how we are here. Humans have always studied the stars, whether in a religious reasons or scientific context, so we can find our place in the universe. We now know where we physically are in the cosmos, but not the purpose we play in it. There are still so many questions we have about our universe, and NASA is doing its best to answer them.

Though NASA has been a leader in the exploration and understanding of space, I believe NASA’s greatest production is hope. Without NASA’s achievements during the Cold War, American morale would have collapsed. They gave the population something to root for, something to feel proud about, and a way to come together as a country to achieve greatness. NASA is a great unifier, bringing scientific discovery and hope together as we try understand the cosmos, one star at a time.