NASA should reembrace its pioneering roots as part of a mission turnabout, while shedding many of its science and aeronautics responsibilities, the foundation suggested.
“Those reports hit the nail on the head, in the sense there is a lot of confusion within the space community,” said Carberry. “We have some broad goals, but generally we still don't really know how and when we will get to them.”
So, why the disparity? Carberry finds the August landing of NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars, and a stream of discoveries that suggest the two-year mission will provide enlightenment on the question of life on Mars, as the likely basis for the enthusiasm.
His comments track the snapshot.
One-third of those surveyed believe astronauts should aim directly for Mars to address the prospects for life and determine whether humans can settle another world. The pursuits of a human lunar base, or a recent NASA proposal to retrieve an asteroid robotically and maneuver it into lunar orbit for human exploration lag behind. A human mission to an asteroid to develop mining techniques or a diversion strategy was ranked last.
In fairness to asteroid backers, the survey's initial findings were released four days ahead of 2012 DA14's Feb. 15 close approach to Earth and the coincidental Russian asteroid explosion. Both prompted alarm in the science community over the lack of a global strategy to forecast and possibly prevent catastrophic collisions.
That may alter public sentiment. Even so, the Mars Generation survey provides a crucial contribution.
On average, Americans believe NASA's annual budget is about 2.4% of federal spending, or $85-90 billion. In reality, the agency only receives roughly 0.5%.
The survey then strayed from convention by informing respondents of NASA's actual budget numbers. Next, it pressed on with a point raised by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson prior to Curiosity's landing. He championed an increase in NASA's funding to 1% of the federal budget, effectively doubling current civil space spending. According to the survey, 75% of Americans concur.