In “Life on Mars? Funds to Find Answer Fade” (New York Times, March 13, 2012), Kenneth Chang reports,
Just as NASA is on the cusp of answering the most fascinating questions about Mars — is there, was there or could there be life there? — the money needed to provide the answers is about to be abruptly withdrawn, a victim of President Obama’s budget request for 2013, scientists say.
Two ambitious missions that NASA had hoped to launch to Mars, in 2016 and 2018, will be canceled.
“Right now NASA’s Mars science exploration budget is being decimated,” Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “We’re not going back to the moon. Plans for astronauts to visit Mars or anywhere beyond low-Earth orbit are delayed until the 2030s on funding not yet allocated, overseen by a Congress and a president to be named later.”
But if scientists are drifting, as claimed, toward a belief that billions of planets might accidentally support life – and that we live in a multiverse anyway – why should a government support exploration that, so far, has always returned negative results? Surely, living by faith in the concepts alone and spinning bizarre theories is vastly cheaper.
See also: Cosmology: Why the future belongs to intelligent design