Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
NASA may be facing a flatlined budget, but that isn’t stopping the agency from gunning for the stars. This morning, William Gerstenmaier, a NASA administrator, presented the agency’s goals before the Senate Subcommittee for Science and Space.
Spoiler alert, NASA’s future plans include redirecting an asteroid into the moon’s orbit and eventually sending a manned mission Mars. If NASA is sticking to a time frame announced in March, the agency is aiming to blast a person to Mars in the 2030s.
“Our architecture is designed for long-term human exploration of our solar system, including the goal of human missions to Mars,” said Gerstenmaier, who is part of the Human Exploration and Operations division.
The hearing was called “From Here to Mars,” and the possible missions highlighted were pretty thrilling. One of them includes sending a manned spacecraft to a near-earth asteroid, and then using robotic technology to knock the asteroid (or a boulder from it) into the moon’s orbit. From there they’ll be able to collect and study samples of the asteroid. The budget has this mission on target to happen by 2025.
According to the Huffington Post, Gertenmaier is very excited about the future asteroid mission. Such a mission he contended could get the public excited about space exploration.
“We’re going to grab a piece of the solar system, we’re going to deflect it around the moon and insert it into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon where our crews can go visit,” he told the subcommittee. “To think we’re moving a piece of the solar system for our use that will allow us to learn skills and techniques that we need to push the human presence into the solar system, that’s a pretty awe-inspiring statement.”
Of course the sad road block to all of this “awe-inspiring” space exploration is NASA’s budget. The 2015 budget was stagnant, and President Obama has only extended the International Space Station through 2024.
Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) also reminded the committee that more sequester cuts are on their way. “Sequester is part of the budget for the next eight years, unless we can change it. There are some of us in bipartisan discussions right now that are trying to change that,” Nelson told the hearing. “But limited funding is a reality over the course of the next several years.”
Though Gerstenmaier confessed that budget cuts, and the inability to fund some projects, can leave people “jaded,” he remains optimistic. He said we have to ignore the “buyer’s regret” and focus on what on “what this country can do, and not be ashamed of what we do.”
In his statement Gerstenmaire reminded the committee how important NASA and future space exploration are to the country. “This long-term effort will expand the sphere of human life and activity, and draw upon the pioneering spirit and ingenuity in the face of the seemingly impossible that have helped make the U.S. the exceptional nation that it is.”
Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email firstname.lastname@example.org.More Sarah Gray.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.