Bill Nye Urges Obama to Up Planetary Science Budget

    December 6, 2013
    Josh Wolford
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Bill Nye is urging President Obama to make sure the Planetary Science Division of NASA receives as much funding as Americans spend on dog toys per year. His magic number is $1.5 billion.

As of right now, the White House’s budget proposes $1.2 billion in funding for NASA’s Planetary Science Division, a figure that the Planetary Society says would “effectively cripple one of our best and most effective programs of exploration.”

“We argue that $1.5 billion per year – with no increases for the next five years – is the minimum necessary to pursue the most important scientific goals for solar system exploration. This includes returning a sample of Mars to the Earth for analysis, sending a mission to explore the subsurface ocean of Europa, and to keep a steady pace of exciting, cost-effective missions exploring the depths of our solar system. This level is consistent with past funding amounts, so it’s not unprecedented,” says the Planetary Society.

That $1.5 billion would equal less than 9% of NASA’s total budget, which in its entirety is less than a half a percent of the total federal budget.

Below is Bill Nye’s open letter, in full:

Mr. President,

The space program, NASA, is the best brand the United States has. Everywhere in the world, people respect and admire what NASA does. Right now, what NASA does best is explore the Solar System through the Planetary Science Program.

People around the world shared the seven minutes of terror as we lowered an extraordinary car bristling with extraordinary instruments onto the surface of Mars from a crane held aloft in that alien sky by rockets. Many thought it was impossible because nothing like it had ever been done before. You and your family remember applauding as a replica of that rover rolled by in the inaugural parade.

Over the last few years, Congress has added back funding for the planetary program that the Office of Management and Budget has cut. We all understand it’s a push and pull process–a negotiation. But planetary science deserves special attention, because it is special. It is a remarkable value in which we should maintain or even increase our investment. We recommend that planetary science receive $1.5 billion dollars a year. That’s less than 10 percent of NASA’s budget, which in turn is less than 0.5% of the federal budget.

The planetary science division of the space program accomplishes extraordinary things, because it is extraordinary. We want to look for signs of life on other worlds, places like Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Enceladus. That work is done by our planetary explorers, scientists and engineers, who really are seeking signs of life on another world. Such a discovery would be astounding. It would, as so many astronomical discoveries have, change the course of human history.

Planetary exploration not only brings us astonishing discoveries from other worlds, it inherently leads to innovation, because we invest in solving problems which have never been solved before. That in turn creates new businesses and economic growth. But more importantly, supporting a robust space program raises everyone’s expectation of what’s possible. With a space program, everyone in our society comes to believe and expect that any problem we face can be solved. It’s inherently optimistic. It’s part of our national character.

So Mr. President: we strongly recommend that you make sure that funding for the planetary science program is at least $1.5 billion dollars per year. It will keep our current missions flying, ensure we create new missions, and it will lead to amazing new innovations, new businesses, and new discoveries for our future. Investing in planetary science changes the world.

Thank you.

Bill Nye
Chief Executive Officer
The Planetary Society

Image via The Planetary Society, YouTube

  • Reality

    Who are we kidding?

    Former Alaska Senator and US Presidential Candidate, Mike Gravel acknowledges the existence of a space-based military force as well a existence of military bases on the moon. When asked why this information has been withheld from the public, the answer offered is that those who have access to the anti-gravity and other back-engineered alien technologies is due to the power these afford them and basic, human greed. Face it America, there was no reason to stop the space program after we made it to the moon. Did you really think we said —- oh well, we made it here, good for us, now lets stop because we have done all we can?

    NASA is nothing but a front. The space program is in the black OPS world and frankly we are being told nothing. Heck, after Operation Paperclip, literally half of NASA was NAZI. What did NAZIs do best….. pursue secret programs.

    America we know much more about space than we are being told. Now, do I believe in some grand Alien Conspiracy to take over earth? Nah — not really. The reality is that if aliens can get to us, they would be so much more advanced than us that they would not need to conspire, they could just wipe out the human population and take the planet. Heck, they could wipe us out and never even enter our atmosphere.

    • Jt

      Yeah, I agree. I always ask my friends how many satellites are in space. Thousands of them my friends reply. I then asked them how often do you see a satellite launched. They always reply … never. It is then they realize that a ton of things happen that they have no clue about. Most people don’t even know there was an Operation Paperclip. Heck, most people don’t even know the Building 7 fell on 9/11. And 36% of Americans can’t find America on a map. At the end of the day, there are only two conspiracy theories I really believe in — the one about Kennedy and the one about 9/11. Nothing about 9/11 makes sense. When you get to the details, nothing makes sense. Most of the rest are nonsense.

      I really wish they had spent more on the 9/11 investigation than they did on the Monica Lewinsky blow job.

  • E C

    There’s a White House petition you can sign on the White House Official website here to get this to President Obama can comment on it.