Hot off the press, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine just unleashed their brand-new decadal survey, and it’s got a spacey twist that’s making waves. Buckle up, folks, because we’re about to dive into the cosmic conundrum that’s landed on our doorstep. We’re talking about establishing a real-deal human presence off-Earth, but guess what? There’s a celestial-sized hiccup in the works, and it’s got a lot to do with NASA’s cash flow—or rather, the lack thereof.
This whopping 351-page manuscript follows hot on the heels of the National Academies’ previous chart-toppers in the realms of astronomy, astrophysics, and planetary defense. In 2021, it was all about gazing at the heavens and plotting courses to far-off worlds like Uranus. Then, in 2022, they had us all hyped about finding cozy new homes for humanity beyond Earth’s cozy embrace.
Now, let’s zoom in on NASA’s Division of Biological and Physical Sciences (BPS). These folks are the guardians of knowledge when it comes to keeping us alive and thriving out there in the great expanse. Think life support, chowing down on space veggies, and keeping the lights on. The rub? The survey’s sounding a klaxon, saying, “Hey, y’all, BPS is strapped for cash!”
They’re throwing down the gauntlet, shouting from the cosmic rooftops, “We need to pump up that science budget by a factor of ten before this decade’s over!” Yeah, you heard right, a tenfold jump. But hey, no guts, no glory, right? This is all about answering the cosmic call and making those space dreams come true.
Krystyn Van Vliet, the ringmaster of this cosmic circus and a big shot at Cornell University, declared, “We’ve made some jaw-dropping strides in space research over the last ten years, but now it’s time to put our money where our rockets are.” She’s got a point—bold plans demand bolder bucks.
And what’s the game plan? Well, the survey’s got it all mapped out, listing 11 top-notch scientific conundrums divided into three cosmic themes. We’re talking about how we can adapt to space, survive in it, and uncover the universe’s juiciest secrets hidden behind gravity’s curtains.
Some of these questions get all existential, like pondering the mysteries of genetic diversity and how our bodies adapt to life beyond the clouds. Others are more like “sci-fi meets science fact,” asking what happens to future space babies and their great-great-great-grandkids.
Now, don’t think it’s all lab coats and microscopes. We’re talking gravity experiments and flexing Einstein’s brain. Plus, it’s a whole new ball game when crews are living it up on the Moon and Mars. The Artemis missions are about to kickstart this star-studded show, taking us further than ever before. More space missions mean more science experiments, and that’s music to our cosmic ears.
But here’s the kicker: money makes the space world go round. NASA’s feeling the pinch with budget cuts and some projects running on overdrive. With Artemis and the Mars Sample Return mission hogging the limelight, there’s not much change left in NASA’s pocket for side gigs. If BPS gets the green light for that budget boost, we might be staring at a brighter cosmic horizon. But, and it’s a big but, it’s all up in the cosmic air.
So there you have it, folks. The cosmos beckons, but the price tag might be stratospheric. It’s a cosmic rollercoaster, and we’re all just along for the ride.