Saturday July 20, 2019
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Americans Want NASA to Focus More on Asteroid Impacts, Less on Getting to Mars

Americans also want NASA to do more research to further our understanding of Earth

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Americans, NASA, Asteroid
An Alaska Airlines flight passes by the rising moon, Feb. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. VOA

Americans would rather have NASA closely monitor asteroids and comets that could crash into Earth than send an astronaut to the moon or Mars.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, released Thursday, found two-thirds of respondents said monitoring asteroids, comets and “other events in space that could impact Earth” was “very or extremely important.”

Americans also want NASA to do more research to further our understanding of Earth, the solar system and the universe. But once again the respondents said they want NASA to conduct the research using robots, not human astronauts.

Toni Dewey, a 71-year-old retired clerical worker in Wilmington, N.C., told AP in an interview that machines, rather than humans, should be explorers.

Americans, NASA, Asteroid
Americans would rather have NASA closely monitor asteroids and comets that could crash into Earth. Pixabay

“It would cost a lot of money to send somebody to Mars,” she said, “and we have roads and bridges that need repaired here.”

Dewey is also not too eager to return to the moon, saying: “We’ve been there.”

In fact, only 23% of those surveyed thought we should return to the moon and only 27% favored a manned mission to Mars.

The poll comes as the White House renews its push for manned space landings.

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During a rally to launch his re-election campaign this week, U.S. President Donald Trump promised that if he wins a second term, the country will “lay the foundation” for landing astronauts on Mars.

Even though he has given NASA a five-year deadline to return an astronaut to the moon, Trump recently changed his focus.

But either moon, or Mars, the good news for NASA is that 60% of Americans believe the benefits of space exploration have justified the cost. (VOA)

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Incredible Full Moon Falls on 50th Anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night

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Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The moon is seen during a lunar eclipse known as the "Super Blood Wolf Moon," in Manaus, Brazil, Jan. 21, 2019. VOA

The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena.

The partial lunar eclipse will occur during the full moon beginning Tuesday night, and will be visible in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The only region that will miss out on viewing the eclipse entirely is North America.

A lunar eclipse occurs when there is an alignment of the moon, the sun and the Earth. It can only happen during a full moon, because that is the only time the moon can be directly opposite of the sun in Earth’s sky.

The upcoming alignment will result in a partial lunar eclipse because the moon will be slightly askew from a direct line with Earth’s shadow.

Full Moon, Anniversary, NASA
The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place this week, allowing stargazers from large swathes of the globe to catch a glimpse of the celestial phenomena. Pixabay

This lunar eclipse will come two weeks after a total eclipse of the sun was visible over South America. This follows a typical astronomical pattern of lunar eclipses occurring within two weeks of a solar eclipse.

The last lunar eclipse took place in January 2019 and was visible from both Americas as well as parts of Europe and Africa. The next lunar eclipse will not take place until next year, however all four eclipses in 2020 will only be penumbral eclipses, which are much weaker than partial or full eclipses.

During penumbral eclipses, the moon passes through the weakest shadow cast by Earth and often does not visibly darken to the naked eye.

There won’t be another total lunar eclipse until May 2021.

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Apollo anniversary

Tuesday’s lunar eclipse will be seen by stargazers at different times around the globe. Viewers in South America will be the first to see Earth’s shadow touch the moon’s surface when the moon is rising in the sky around sunset July 16, while watchers in Asia and Australia will see the moon in eclipse as it sets around sunrise July 17.

Interestingly, this celestial event falls on the anniversary of another lunar happening: July 16 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 rocket launch, which first landed humans on the moon. (VOA)