Thursday, March 10, 2005

Science Through Donations

Space Daily reports that NASA may be cancelling a number of older missions, including the ones that still keep the Voyager spacecraft running. These satellites are some of the oldest launched by humans, and are at the edge of the Solar System. This is not right.

While an argument to decrease funding could be made, completely shutting down the Voyager missions would be a devastating blow to science and the romantic nature of astronomy. These missions still return useful information, and if shut down, will require another thirty years of planning and waiting if we are to launch new satellites so far. Furthermore, with the flagrant record that NASA and the ESA have had with regards to satellites, the ships would probably fail.

Keeping the Voyager mission running, according to the article above, only requires $4.2 million a year. Such costs are so low that it may actually be possible to fund them through donations. If done, this could start a completely new era for science - public, non-governmental donations fueling research that people deem interesting? Sure, it could work - if fans are paying to keep their favourite shows on the air, why not this?


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