Here is a set of rational priorities for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in descending order of importance:

(1) Conduct research, particularly environmental research, on Earth, the sun, and Venus, the most Earth-like planet.
(2) Locate asteroids and comets that might strike Earth, and devise a practical means of deflecting them.
(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.
(4) Figure out a way to replace today's chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit.

Here are NASA's apparent current priorities:

(1) Maintain a pointless space station.
(2) Build a pointless Motel 6 on the moon.
(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.
(4) Keep money flowing to favored aerospace contractors and congressional districts.

Only one priority of four correct!

Worse, NASA's to-do list neglects the two things that are actually of tangible value to the taxpayers who foot its bills research relevant to environmental policymaking and asteroid-strike protection.

NASA has recently been canceling or postponing "Earth observation" missions intended to generate environmental information about our world.
For instance, a year and a half ago the agency decided not to fund Hydros, a satellite that would have provided the first global data on soil moisture trends. NASA focuses its planetary research on frigid Mars rather than Venus, which suffers a runaway greenhouse effect.

The agency is conducting only a few sun-study missions even though all life depends on the sun, and knowing more about it might clarify the global-warming debate.
But $6 billion a year for astronauts to take each other's blood pressure on the space station? No problem!

Meanwhile, geologic studies increasingly show that catastrophic asteroid and comet hits were not confined to ancient times.
In 1908, a small asteroid smacked Siberia with a blast impact equivalent to the strongest nuclear bomb ever detonated by the US; recent evidence suggests an enormous object struck the Indian Ocean a mere 4,800 years ago, causing global tsunamis that may have engendered the Flood referred to in the Bible.
Yet NASA has no program to research ways of deflecting space objects, and the agency recently told Congress it could not spare $1 billion to catalog the locations and movements of potentially dangerous asteroids.
But hundreds of billions of dollars for a moon base? No problem!


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