Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Space & Science & Trump

Will the Space Agency slow to a crawl? Expand Exploration? Will Scientists be allowed to share information: Only within the US or across borders? Climate Change – we’ve made strides, now do we tread water or go backwards?


These and more are unknown at this time. Originally if I had to place a bet I’d say the climate change science would have to go in a Trump administration and space exploration would both get more money and more cool things to do. I would still place a decent amount of money on that! BUT at what cost?


President Trump has placed a gag order on the EPA, USDA, Department of Health & Human Services, though as of this moment, there has been no ‘gag’ order issued involving NASA.  This may be tied to the fact that NASA’s charter has the following line: “provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof.” Of course it does appear that the protections it seems to allow will only last until such time as Trump can send in a group to review their data.


While it wasn’t a huge leap to expect the closing down of any government sites that have Climate Change data on them, and I have been anticipating the end of space missions collecting climate data, missions that in 2007 were 17 in number. Grace, one of NASA's more recent Earth-observing missions, has revealed massive unexpectedly rapid changes in the Earth's great ice sheets. NASA currently runs programs to obtain & convert raw data from DOJ and NOAA satellites as well as from European, Japanese and Russian satellites where data is shared. In addition, NASA seeks the ground truth by sponsoring field experiments to check space instrument performance and to develop new measurement techniques.

NASA did/does not only look into man-made climate change but also Instruments on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites look to provide measurements of aerosols in our atmosphere. These emanate from sources such as volcanoes, dust storms not just man-made sources (ie. the burning of fossil fuels). Other instruments onboard the Aura satellite gives us data regarding the abundance of ozone in the atmosphere. Data from the GRACE and ICESat missions and from spaceborne radar show unexpectedly rapid changes in the Earth's great ice sheets, while the OSTM/Jason-2 and Jason-1 missions record the sea level rise and its increase in rate. NASA’s has actually increased the veracity in weather forecasting. And there are a whole lot more, but given the eradication of Climate Change from the main government websites almost immediately after President Trump’s inauguration, how long will it survive on NASA’s website?

There are many concerns when it comes to denying Climate Change. Not to switch subjects, but Climate Change presents a real problem regarding our national security when the waters continue to rise and start to cause life-altering situations here & abroad.

AND unfortunately the current gag on EPA et al agencies/scientists brings even more concerns as ‘fake news’ now can’t be challenged when actual science could eradicate it.

It is not my place to get involved in the politics, usually. And I can’t pinpoint what is going to be allowed, sharing science? Maintaining the gag? No Climate Change? Exploring space could get the monies from the other programs…It comes down to the fact that yes, space exploration might become exciting as anything, it might receive the monies it needs & deserves so that we may go further than ever before, BUT we may need to move to space sooner as the Earth could go away. 

It’s going to take more time to understand where we are going, and what NASA’s current set of missions is going to be.

As much as I love space, I’m more than a little concerned for Earth at the moment.

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