NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft has a message for the politicians in Congress squabbling over whether it’s more important to stall the Affordable Care Act or fund the federal government’s operations:
“Farewell, humans,” the craft’s social media handlers tweeted Monday night, just minutes before nonessential federal services were put on hold. “Sort it out yourselves.”
That small sign of exasperation stands in marked contrast to NASA’s official comment on the political brinkmanship in Washington. Most NASA accounts inform followers that “Due to the gov’t shutdown, all public NASA activities/events are canceled or postponed until further notice. Sorry for the inconvenience.” They also point to to this message on usa.gov: “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.”
With 97% of NASA employees ordered to stay home on Tuesday, space enthusiasts are picking up the slack. The folks at Riding With Robots initiated the hashtag #ThingsNASAMightTweet. So far, those things include a picture of Curiosity’s fresh tracks on Mars.
Bobak Ferdowsi, the “Mohawk Man” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, enlisted the public’s help in wishing the mostly shuttered space agency a happy birthday.
“Happy 55th @NASA!,” he tweeted. “Since NASA is shutdown & I don’t have 5 mil followers to share with, please RT 5 mil times. Thanks.” So far, 590 people have complied.
The Sarcastic Rover, Curiosity’s unofficial alter-ego, often pokes fun at NASA. But not today. In a series of tweets that add up to a self-described rant, the rover lamented the possible delay of NASA’s MAVEN mission to study the Martian atmosphere, along with the very notion that science is “non-essential.”
Sarcastic Rover encouraged supporters to show their support for NASA this way: “Instead of unfollowing @NASA accounts left unattended, it would be nice if their audience went up during he shut down...”
And just for good measure, it tweeted a picture taken Tuesday by Curiosity’s Navcam and transmitted to Earth after the shutdown began, along with this bit of commentary:
“You can’t shut down awesome…”