Readers React

Fund today's NASA missions, inspire tomorrow's scientists

I agree with B.R. Oppenheimer's plea for additional funding for NASA's currently operating space astronomy missions. ("Would you be willing to pay more than 25 cents a year to understand the cosmos?," Opinion, June 5)

Recently, I participated in a major science and engineering festival in Washington attended by tens of thousands of visitors. I worked at the NASA display, presenting results for many of the missions that are at risk. I was struck by how many bright young students quizzed me at length about these missions, their scientific data and its significance, and their personal hopes for participation in this type of exploration of the universe. This was a refreshing antidote to the often dismal reports one hears of the state of technical education in this country.

The importance of these missions in educating and inspiring future scientists and engineers cannot be overstated. It is yet another reason we should encourage the government to provide the support needed to continue the operations of productive space astronomy missions.

Michael Werner


The writer, project scientist for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, is the chief scientist for astronomy and physics at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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