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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 Phoenix666 on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (4 children)

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday November 19 2018, @02:43AM (#763749) Journal

    Without delving too deeply into the politics of it, Europa ought to be a more ardent target of our collective search for life. We're pretty sure there are significant amounts of liquid water there. Life on Earth evolved in our oceans, so it stands to reason it could well have done on Europa. Closely behind Europa should be Enceladus, which has been proven to have water geysers; it's another niche with the energy and liquid water life as we know it would need.

    Those should be the scientific facts that inform the exploration priorities of our space agencies, not the slings and arrows of political fortune.

    Washington DC delenda est.
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  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 19 2018, @03:08AM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @03:08AM (#763761) Journal

    I just think those two have sexy names. Some of the others could use name changes. How about that former planet, Pluto? Thanks to Disney, Pluto is just a dumb sounding dog's name. No one wants to go to Pluto, just to become one of many fleas on a dog's ass. Europa? It just sounds sexy. Pretty much any guy would like to snuggle up to Europa. Enceladus may be less sexy, but she's intriguing!

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Monday November 19 2018, @06:07AM (1 child)

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @06:07AM (#763806) Journal

      Enceladus may be less sexy, but she's intriguing!

      Enceladus is a masculine name - not remotely sexy or intriguing to me'; even less considering the original Enceladus was a giant [] (if you want the full gory details, he was "the offspring of Gaia, born from the blood that fell when Uranus was castrated by their son Cronus". Still sexy for you?).

      If were looking for a feminine name? Maybe... Enchilada?


      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday November 19 2018, @07:16AM

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday November 19 2018, @07:16AM (#763811) Journal

        Mmmmm - point taken, but even so, some names are more intriguing and/or more sexy than others. A good for instance is Steven, or Stefan. Same name, really, same roots, but Steven sounds manly, and Stefan sounds - uhhhhhh - not feminine, but less manly at least. But, then, we're back to "Beauty is in the ear of the beholder." Chicks seem to go for Stefan at least as often as they go for a Steven.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Monday November 19 2018, @03:21AM

    by takyon (881) <> on Monday November 19 2018, @03:21AM (#763765) Journal

    There may actually be more proof of action at Enceladus.

    Hydrogen Emitted by Enceladus, More Evidence of Plumes at Europa []
    Complex Organic Molecules Found on Enceladus []
    Europa Plume Sites Lack Expected Heat Signatures [] (you subbed this one)

    The icy crust of Enceladus is supposed to be thinner [] than that of Europa, which could make it easier to drill through, and easier for it to spew plumes.

    On the other hand, Europa's surface is smoother. Europa has a lot more mass then Enceladus, which could provide more material for life to work with.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []