Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
Tuesday, April 25, 2017 12:32 pm
Latest:
Aug. 11, 2016

The Juno mission to Jupiter comes with a cost

by Ryan Handel, Staff Writer
On July 4th, at about 11:18 p.m. EST, the spacecraft Juno began its orbit around Jupiter.
A photograph of Jupiter as seen from Earth. Courtesy of NASA
A photograph of Jupiter as seen from Earth.


The goals of the Juno mission, which was launched in 2011, include collecting data about Jupiterís atmosphere, researching the magnetic and gravitational field, as well as determining whether Jupiter has a solid core.

However, the Juno mission comes with an immense price tag, about $1.1 billion. This includes the $581 million it took to build the spacecraft and $342 million for continuous operation.

However, is it really worth it?

Humans have always held the desire to explore the unknown, and our fascination with space still lingers today. NASA sent the Juno mission to Jupiter in order to satisfy these curiosities. But, it seems that the government is putting curiosities over priorities.

With more pressing needs than space exploration, including poverty, violence, and environmental issues, the United States government should not allocate so much of the federal budget into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The US spends 0.14% of its GDP on space exploration, which may not seem like much but is $16.5 billion that could be spent on more worthy causes. Even former NASA Chief Historian Steven J. Dick questioned, "Is it ethical to explore when there is so much that needs to be done on Earth?"

Space exploration is said to help us prepare for future colonization efforts of other planets when Earth can no longer support humans. But, this reasoning does not apply to planets unsuitable for life, like Jupiter. Taxpayer dollars would be better spent on improving the state of the planet we live on, so we donít have to leave it in the first place.

While the knowledge that we gain from space exploration endeavors like the Juno mission is interesting, the applications are sparse. Writer Robin Hanbury-Tenison of Engineering and Technology Magazine supported this claim by citing that "the amount of money being spent on space research is in the billions and it has achieved extraordinarily little except for a bit of improved technology which would probably have come about anyway by other means." The lack of long-term benefits associated with space travel makes it a questionable way for the US government to allocate its funding.

The international space race of the 1960s was simply just entertaining. It is not hard to to see why the US government has stopped funding the colossal endeavors that were the human-manned moon missions. And despite the fact that our inner curiosities may clamor for otherwise, we as a nation should take more steps in trending away from space travel.

So, if you choose to look up at the night sky and want to know more about what really lies out there, understand that space exploration comes with a steep cost. When we launch and operate spacecraft like Juno, it is our taxpayer dollars that are being wasted. Maybe, everyone will be reminded of this in 2018 when the $1.1 billion Juno mission is projected to disintegrate in Jupiterís atmosphere.





Share on Tumblr

Discuss this Article

Silver Chips Online invites you to share your thoughts about this article. Please use this forum to further discussion of the story topic and refrain from personal attacks and offensive language. SCO reserves the right to deny any comment. No comments that include hyperlinks will be posted. If you have a question for us, please include your email address or use this form.
 

  • Space Probe on August 11, 2016 at 10:48 AM
    Perhaps we should slash the "defence" budget (USA spending on war, killing, bombing, maiming and pushing its nose into other countries' business is phenomenal!) or perhaps we could use some of the billion$ and billion$ spent on cosmetics or personal side arms every year to do science and explore space (a guns and lipstick tax?).

    There are plenty of places money should be "saved" before we cut science, learning and exploration.
  • You know what they say about opinions... (View Email) on August 12, 2016 at 8:58 AM
    Ryan, you might want to read up about the Cold War and the Space Race and enlighten yourself. It was not done to be entertaining.

    Also, the US spends almost $600 billion a year on military. Why pick on Science?
  • Ben R (View Email) on August 12, 2016 at 10:02 AM
    Many points, I'll try not to wander too much. Flawed assumption -- We sent a billion US dollars to Jupiter to burn up in the atmosphere. No - NASA is spending a billion dollars here on Earth to send a chunk of metal to Jupiter.
    The money never left Earth, and was put to good effect within the US economy, paying salaries and feeding familes.

    It's been stated that " For every dollar invested by the government the American economy and other countries economies have seen $7 to $14 in new revenue, all from spinoffs and licensing arrangements." (1)

    You're overly dismissive of the spinoff technologies. Had you provided evidence of your claim that the benefits were minimal it may have been a valid point, but you simple quote another writer who agrees with your point of view. That writer didn't provide any supporting evidence in the statement you quote - he simply stated his opinion on the matter, as you have here. Neither of you have provided evidence.

    Technologies derived from space exploration are numerous. Review the Wikipedia list of NASA spinoffs(2), and tell me you feel the "applications are sparse."

    Space is our future. Even if you deny the need to discover what's out there, or the absolute necessity that mankind become a multiplanetary species (our Earth doesn't have a good track record for long term species survival), or the money directly injected into our economy to build and support these missions, there's the ongoing Earth observation that space flight gives us, teaching us more and more about our climate and how our world works. Better climate science betters our entire world with better understanding of how to grow foods for struggling locales, and how to avoid or prepare for severe weather. Even studying other climates on other worlds betters our understanding of (and hence survival on) this planet.

    Ignoring space harkens back to isolationist attitudes that have repeated numerously throughout history. These patterns are not healthy for humanity and must be avoided.

    (1) http://www.21stcentech.com/money-spent-nasa-waste/
    (2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_spin-off_technologies
  • Ben R (View Email) on August 12, 2016 at 10:04 AM
    (Just saw the warning about no hyperlinks. Dissappointing, it hinders providing supporting evidence for discussion. Regardless, I'll include some Google hints to find my sources)

    Many points, I'll try not to wander too much. Flawed assumption -- We sent a billion US dollars to Jupiter to burn up in the atmosphere. No - NASA is spending a billion dollars here on Earth to send a chunk of metal to Jupiter.
    The money never left Earth, and was put to good effect within the US economy, paying salaries and feeding familes.

    It's been stated that "For every dollar invested by the government the American economy and other countries economies have seen $7 to $14 in new revenue, all from spinoffs and licensing arrangements." (1)

    You're overly dismissive of the spinoff technologies. Had you provided evidence of your claim that the benefits were minimal it may have been a valid point, but you simple quote another writer who agrees with your point of view. That writer didn't provide any supporting evidence in the statement you quote - he simply stated his opinion on the matter, as you have here. Neither of you have provided evidence.

    Technologies derived from space exploration are numerous. Review the Wikipedia list of NASA spinoffs(2), and tell me you feel the "applications are sparse."

    Space is our future. Even if you deny the need to discover what's out there, or the absolute necessity that mankind become a multiplanetary species (our Earth doesn't have a good track record for long term species survival), or the money directly injected into our economy to build and support these missions, there's the ongoing Earth observation that space flight gives us, teaching us more and more about our climate and how our world works. Better climate science betters our entire world with better understanding of how to grow foods for struggling locales, and how to avoid or prepare for severe weather. Even studying other climates on other worlds betters our understanding of (and hence survival on) this planet.

    Ignoring space harkens back to isolationist attitudes that have repeated numerously throughout history. These patterns are not healthy for humanity and must be avoided.

    (1) Just Google the quote, the article is the first result
    (2) Wikipedia article titled "NASA spin-off technologies"
  • Nathan (View Email) on August 12, 2016 at 12:52 PM
    Why does the author assume that budgeting for space exploration and budgeting for humanitarian investment on Earth are exclusive to each other and can't co-exist? And why are they griping about $18 billion NASA budget instead of the $600 billion military budget? They should take a look NASA's technology transfer program: https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html
  • Steven R. (View Email) on August 14, 2016 at 5:14 PM
    This article essentially says taxes -should- be more toward social programs and less towards "entertainment" or "curiosity". It specifically quotes the word "ethical", and says there are "more worthy causes". Assuming the debatable premise that technologies derived would have come from other means, it still leaves the question should the government be involved in dispersing tax money ethically, and to what degree. The US spends 140 times more (approx. 20% GDP) on social programs , have the taxpayers done their part? In fairness the article states a valid opinion, I just feel their is a subtle coercion here instead of a head on discussion about social responsibilities.
  • Jason on August 17, 2016 at 8:57 PM
    This is completely garbage. World hunger is a logistics issue not an accounting issue.
  • Cynic on August 25, 2016 at 11:21 PM
    One might even ask, "Is it ethical to quote rhetorical questions coming from sources making the argument opposite to that of the out-of-context quote?"
Jump to first comment