The Obama administration announced plans to scale down NASA’s proposed mission to Jupiter’s icy moon Europa to pay for more global warming research, according to Universe Today.
President Barack Obama requested NASA’s mission to Europa receive only $49.6 million in 2017, far less than the $175 million the mission got from Congress in 2016. Much of the money not spent on the probe would go to global warming research. A rival proposal from the House of Representatives would allocate $260 million to fully fund the mission for the next year.
“It’s unfortunate that a few tens of million dollars here or there can hamper our search for life beyond Earth. But the USA is a democracy, so that’s the way it is,” Evan Gough wrote in University Today Friday.”These discrepancies and possible disputes between NASA and the different levels of government may seem disconcerting, but that’s the way these things get done. At least we hope it is.”
NASA’s probe, dubbed The Europa Clipper, would investigate the icy moon’s potential habitability for human colonization and alien life. Europa probably has watery oceans similar to those of Earth’s below the ice, which are likely kept warm by complex gravitational interactions and the planet’s core.
Scientists generally agree that Europa is one of the most likely places in our solar system for alien life to develop. Life could exist in its under-ice ocean, perhaps in an environment similar to deep-ocean hydrothermal vents where life on Earth may have emerged. NASA has even found clay-like minerals associated with organic matter on Earth on the icy crust of Europa.
Congress wants The Europa Clipper to expand the number of scientific instruments carried so that it can investigate plumes of water ice ejected from the moon’s surface, as well as several smaller satellites launched from the probe, which would orbit Europa.
NASA’s budget includes more than $2 billion for its Earth Science Mission Directorate for global warming science, which is specifically allocated to improve climate modeling, weather prediction and natural hazard mitigation. The directorate’s goal is to help NASA “meet the challenges of climate and environmental change.”
The organization is also responsible for global warming models proven to be inaccurate when checked against actual temperature observations.
Spending on NASA’s Earth Science Mission Directorate has increased by 63 percent over the last eight years, making it the largest and fastest growing budget of any NASA science program. In comparison, NASA’s other functions, such as astrophysics and space technology, are only getting a mere $781.5 and $826.7 million, respectively, in the budget proposal. Over the same time period, the general NASA budget grew only by 10.6 percent — just enough to account for inflation.
Obama and Democrats in Congress consider expanding the budget for global warming science to be a political imperative. Obama has repeatedly attempted to cut other NASA directorates, like space exploration, so money could be redirected to global warming science.
NASA said in its budget justification in February that the top scientific question the space agency wants to answer is “How are Earth’s climate and the environment changing?” The more typical space questions, such as “Are we alone?” and “How does the universe work?,” were at the very bottom of the list.
Even global warming alarmist Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” who’s also the CEO of the Planetary Society, has criticized Obama’s attempts to cut NASA’s space exploration and planetary science programs in favor of global warming. NASA’s planetary science program has previously held car washes and bake sales to gain political support to maintain funding.
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