The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Wednesday, Oct. 7, 3:46 p.m.

Civilization’s advances should include protection from space danger

The recent “meteor scare” wasn’t all that scary, but it did bring attention to the Armageddon-esque potential of a fiery apocalypse via asteroid. Is it something that is likely to happen? Probably not. But imagine, if you will, the day it becomes apparent that your life will be rudely interrupted by a huge, flaming space rock. Would you not, at that time, anticipate and expect, even, to be saved by an elaborate plan, put in place and executed by a trained team of NASA professionals?

At the very least, I’d like to know that, as an “advanced” civilization, we’d have some method to protect us from a disaster of this sort. Space is a very interesting thing that yields discoveries and potential dangers, like killer meteors. So why does NASA’s budget get smaller and smaller every year?

NASA’s budget is 1/2 a percent of the entire U.S. budget. The last time their budget was that low was 1960 — nine years before the first moon landing. So what, you say; it’s 2013, and we must not need to discover much more, anyway. Untrue.

What we don’t know far outweighs what we do. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to find out more about the Big Bang or extraterrestrial life forms? When we cut NASA’s budget, we cut knowledge and discovery. Science is, undoubtedly, the one real constant in this universe. Whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, the Big Bang occurred, and evolution is a real thing. Our world came from something in the depths of space. Evidence and facts are literally sitting in that cold vacuum, waiting to be discovered. So why not find them?

Sure, budget cuts need to happen — that is a valid point. However, since when has it been financially prudent to trim the cheapest programs? NASA’s budget was around $17 billion in 2012. The military’s budget was over $700 billion. Cutting funds from NASA is like breaking your hand and cutting off a toe to stop the pain. I see no issue with budget cuts as a whole — certainly, we’d like to trim our debt. But why cut from where it counts?

A strong space program could literally lead us to the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. Even if you aren’t motivated by the potential advancements to science, think about your future. If ever a world-ending asteroid comes gunning for you, don’t you want NASA on your side?

Jeri Cosgrove is a third-year English student with a concentration in creative writing.