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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Ted Cruz, NASA and NOAA

Ted Cruz is a Texas senator is the chairman of the senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.  There is a bit of a to do over a confrontation between Senator Cruz and NASA administrator Charles Bolden over NASA'a "core mission".  What is interesting is how this has been overly played by the warm and fuzzy minions.

Between NASA and NOAA we have two huge agencies tasked with space and inner-space research.  There is some overlap of responsibilities and needed joint cooperation, but there is considerable redundancy that is not only not cost effective but counter productive.  NASA GISS for example has a surface temperature product and climate science division as does NOAA (NCDC) and the GFDL.  The NASA GISS head at the time James Hansen predicted that CO2 related anthropogentic climate change would be extremely hazardous, potentially 4 C of warming while Syukuro Manabe with the GFDL predicted less impact, about 2 C  Currently observations tend to indicate that Manabe, with the GFDL, tasked with the inner space duties, knew more about the inner space climate than Hansen tasked with the outer space duties (NASA).  So we have a huge group of scientists on the public payroll during their job apparently pretty well and a few scientists on the public payroll venturing into areas outside of their agencies per view, not doing all that great of a job.

Senator Cruz appears to have mention that perhaps NASA should try to focus more on their real mission instead of competing, somewhat poorly, with other agencies doing their job.  That should be a fairly common sense type of concern for a senator watching out supposedly for your tax dollars.

From thinkprogress, “Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place,” Bolden said.

Well that's fine.  Nasa was founded in 1958 at the beginning of the cold war space race and had a noble mission statement at that time.  NOAA was founded in 1970 to focus on the inner environment, Oceanographic and atmosphere, sort of a spin off of NASA.  Bolden appears to not have gotten that memo.

According to media and blogs like ThinkProgress, Senator Cruz is an anti-science imbecile because he questions NASA's competition with NOAA and says things like, “Almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space,” he said. “That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country … and you know that I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”

How about some NASA history?  
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.

I find is hard to find fault with Senator Cruz's paraphrase there. 

If NOAA or its National Weather Service needs new weather or climate science platforms, NASA's mission would be to assist in the design and placement of those space vehicles.  If communications satellites are needed, NASA's mission is to assist in the design and placement of those space vehicles.  That doesn't mean that NASA is in the television industry or the climate science industry, it is in the space industry.    If NASA wants to do the job of NOAA, then eliminate NOAA, or how about just everyone sticking to their specialty instead of free lancing?

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