Space travel and exploration have helped man come to a better understanding of the world around and beyond. But today, NASA’s brain trust is being disseminated, there are no missions on the horizon and funding for the next advance in space telescopes is year to year and not fully secured.
Astronomy professor James Webb explained in his TEDxFIU talk that mankind is at a crossroads in space exploration and education, and what happens next may have dire consequences for life on Earth.
Webb pointed to one example during his talk: Kitt Peak National Observatory, which is at risk of closure due to budget cuts to the National Science Foundation. The facility also houses Space Watch, a program that is mapping the inner solar system to detect Earth-crossing asteroids. If closed, no one will be watching out for Earth’s safety.
The lessons of space are not just for the pioneers of the past. Webb is concerned that future generations may not get to experience the excitement of new galactic frontiers and discoveries. For the past 20 years, he has been working to build an on-campus observatory at FIU; the Stocker AstroScience Center broke ground in 2012.
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