NASA’s Wrong Stuff?

Have a listen to Greg Easterbrook (of Wired) in conversation with NPR’s Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition. The issue is whether NASA’s focus on setting up a manned base on the moon, and then heading for Mars, is really the right focus for a huge (multiple billions of dollars) expenditure, given other scientific priorities. The link is here. See also his Wired piece here, entitled “How NASA Screwed Up (And Four Ways to Fix It)”.

That was yesterday. Today, also on NPR’s Morning Edition, I heard NASA’s chief administrator Michael Griffin attempts to defend the policy. There’s a link to audio here, and be sure to listen to the audio (the transcript offered there is only partial, for a start). I find it revealing. He seemed to have a great deal of difficulty answering certain key questions, such as “Do you think it is the best use of money or not?”. “Are there priorities that you have had to cut…?” His answers on climate change and global warming (things that Easterbrook thinks that NASA should focus on more) such as “Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?”, are a bit worrying/disturbing also.

Very odd how indirectly he answers these questions, and how much care he seems to take to choose his words at some points. Is he worried that his masters in Washington are listening carefully?

[Update:] On NPR’s Day to Day, later in the morning, there was an interview with Jim Hansen, NASA’s top climate change scientist at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. He spoke with Madeleine Brand. He seemed quite confused about the NASA chief’s remarks, particularly on the issue of whether major programs have had to be cut, and why he seemed to downplay the importance of making efforts to study and tackle the problem of global warming. Interesting contrast. Link to audio here.


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