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posted by Fnord666 on Monday November 19 2018, @12:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the science-of-politics-and-politics-of-science dept.

The Planetary Society reports:

Representative John Culberson, an 8-term Texas Republican and staunch supporter of NASA and planetary exploration, lost his re-election bid to Democrat Lizzie Fletcher last week. Many factors played into this outcome, but one bears consideration by space advocates: his support for the scientific search for life at Europa was seen as a weakness and attacked accordingly.

Over the past four years, Culberson used his chairmanship of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee to increase spending on NASA and missions to search for life on Europa. He directed hundreds of millions of dollars to this effort and played a critical role in getting the Europa Clipper mission officially adopted by NASA and the White House. And he did this without cannibalizing other NASA programs. His motivation was passion, not parochialism, as the prime benefactor of these federal dollars was California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located far outside his Houston-area congressional district.


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  • (Score: 2) by PartTimeZombie on Monday November 19 2018, @02:20AM (4 children)

    by PartTimeZombie (4827) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:20AM (#763733)

    That's not good though is it? I thought the lander bit was the most interesting part of the project.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (3 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (#763748) Journal

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europa_Lander_(NASA) [wikipedia.org]
    https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=18/07/23/2120200 [soylentnews.org]

    The lander would be nice to have, but won't be entering the internal ocean, which is what we would want from an aggressive, multi-billion dollar Europa landing mission. Can it find signs of life by drilling a few inches at the surface? Maybe, maybe not.

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    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday November 19 2018, @05:56AM (2 children)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @05:56AM (#763803) Journal

      Right. To illustrate the risks of half-arsed missions.

      Drilling down and founding microscopic life demonstrate what? The preexistence of that life or the contamination of the probe?
      If the latter and the contaminant microbe survives/thrives, we may never know for sure if we didn't actually kill the endogenous life.

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      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @12:14PM (1 child)

        by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Monday November 19 2018, @12:14PM (#763852) Journal

        NASA has means to decontaminate their spacecraft up to a point. If they start taking samples and find more microbes than could be expected to have come from the spacecraft, that would point to an extraterrestrial origin. But if they find fish-like organisms down there, then we're golden.

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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @06:55PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19 2018, @06:55PM (#763964)

          Fish-like organisms? Clearly, you have not seen the movie. Tentacles, dude! Japanese got there first.