Astronomers hold bake sales to protest NASA budget cuts

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/astronomers-hold-bake-sales-protest-nasa-budget-cuts-article-1.1092638

NY Daily News

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Astronomers at the University of Central Florida held a bake sale Saturday to protest proposed cuts in NASA’s space exploration budget. Scientists around the U.S. planned a series of fundraisers to highlight what they say are the perils of shortchanging planetary science.

 

Astronomers at one Florida university hope they’ve found a sweet way to help compensate for massive budget cuts.

Students, professors and scientists at the University of Central Florida will be selling super nova brownie cookies, Milky Way cupcakes and other earthly delights at a bake sale on Saturday to rally support for NASA’s space exploration budget, which is facing a nearly $300 million cut astronomers say will derail discovery.

“We’re going to lose a lot of satellites and things that can explore planets, and the idea is to tell Congress not to do it,” Tracy Becker, a graduate student in planetary science, told the Daily News. “The main thing is to get the awareness out so people can talk to their local representatives.”

Becker, who currently works on the Cassini mission to Saturn, says photos from the Voyager mission to explore the solar system inspired her to become an astronomer. “These programs create high-tech jobs and new technologies,” she added.

The bake sale is one of several demonstrations astronomers plan to stage Saturday to highlight what they say are the perils of shortchanging planetary science.

 

“It’s important these cuts be repaired to maintain U.S. leadership in this area of science, to prevent mission cuts, and to prevent student and research job losses,” Alan Stern, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute who helped organize the events, said in a statement.

Though NASA’s budget for the coming fiscal year will support more than 80 science missions, including 28 in development, the agency says spending reflects difficult choices. “There’s not doubt that tough decisions had to be made, here at NASA and all across the government,” Charles F. Bolden, Jr., the agency’s administrator, told Congress in February.

NASA said Thursday it decided to halt work on a new telescope that uses X-ray technology to explore black holes and other deep space phenomena after the tab for the project significantly exceeded budget.

Source: NY Daily News