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NASA no longer seeks to ‘understand and protect’ Earth

NASA no longer seeks to “understand and protect” Earth

NASA no longer seeks to “understand and protect” Earth
July 22, 2006

The New York Times reports that NASA no longer seeks to “understand and protect” Earth according to its mission statement.

The Times found that the American space agency modified its mission statement in early February 2006, deleting the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet”.

The original statement said NASA’s mission is “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers … as only NASA can.” Now NASA’s stated mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”

Earth as viewed from Apollo 17.

The Times article notes that “the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the ‘understand and protect’ phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.”

The change came after James E. Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA, told the media that the White House had been editing climate related press releases to make global warming seem like less of a threat. At the time he said, “In my more than three decades in the government I’ve never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public.”

Dr. Hansen told the Times that the change in wording “might reflect White House eagerness to shift the spotlight away from global warming.”

For more, see NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

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