It’s no surprise that our country doesn’t take science very seriously — just look at how NASA’s budget is getting cut.
The House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies voted July 7 to cut funding for the telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. If funding is eliminated, about 500 jobs in Maryland would be affected, with the “vast majority” in Greenbelt, said U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Dist. 4) of Fort Washington.
A decision is expected by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2011, Edwards said.
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Dist. 5) of Mechanicsville said in an email that he is “disappointed” about the “significant” proposed cuts.
“This not only threatens the future of science research, but it will have a dramatic impact on our economy, costing 2,000 full-time private sector jobs in 22 states,” Hoyer said.
The infrared telescope is expected to launch in 2018 and examine the first galaxies that formed in the universe, Mather said. The project is 75 percent complete.
Reader Barret explains the significance of this potential cut (via email):
This telescope will allow us to see farther and in more detail than any other instrument ever built, by a lot… To a science student, it is a huge deal. When the Superconducting Super-Collider was scrapped, America lost the lead in particle physics research, and even though CERN is in operation, the SSC would have been much more powerful. We just lost the lead in manned spaceflight with the retirement of the shuttle. If this program is scrapped… we will also lose the lead in astrophysics research, and deal a blow to the field that may take decades to overcome. As you know, science opens our eyes and our minds. We can’t let it go.
What can you do about this? A Facebook page called “Save the James Webb Space Telescope” is encouraging everyone to call their representatives and tell them not to make this cut. There’s also a petition you can sign.
(If nothing else, just read the petition letter to get a better sense of the impact this telescope could have and why it’s so vital to save it.)