Although space policy is not the main topic of discussion on the eve of elections, the democratic candidate has shown a rare personal interest in space research.
Democratic presidential favorite Hillary Clinton has revealed an interest in space politics. In particular, she was concerned about the threat to our planet from wandering space stones.
“We must, based on security, map meteorites, meteors, and other objects that fear people,” she said in the New Hampshire municipality on Thursday.
As a rule, space exploration is not an important political issue in the run-up to general elections. But for a science policy that is implemented when the president transgresses to his duties, this may have global implications. According to Politico (multimedia edition), during the meeting, Clinton continued to discuss the importance of “mapping” asteroids, equating astronomical efforts with the historical mapping of the human genome, and how this scientific achievement affected humanity, creating job openings and boosting the US economy.
“You know, back in the early 1990s, our country invested in creating a map of the human genome, and my husband was president when she was finally identified. The money came from Republican and Democratic candidates and the Congress, because we wanted to know more about what we are dealing with. In the following years, hundreds and thousands of jobs were created that brought millions of dollars into our economy, ”she said. Currently, Congress has instructed NASA to detect and track 90% of near-Earth asteroids (OA), more than 140 meters wide by the end of 2020. Although today 15,000 OA have been found, they represent only 27% of cosmic stones with a width of more than 140 meters that are in our solar system. Although small asteroids suffer damage to the local scale, they can crash into the Earth (for example, more than 1,000 people were injured due to the Chelyabinsk meteorite impact in 2013). Asteroids over 140 meters can lead to regional devastation with global consequences.
Objects in near-Earth space (which include OA and near-earth comets - OK) are considered to be space objects passing through the vicinity of the Earth's orbit. A subclass that can pose a danger to the planet is called potentially dangerous objects (VET). The only way to counter the threat is to increase the amount of astronomical research in order to reveal undiscovered space stones and space missions - robotized and with a potential crew (for example, NASA Asteroid Retrieval Mission - ARM). This will help to learn more about what asteroids are made of. Any efforts to increase the understanding of our solar system, the place of our planet in it and the cosmos as a whole, will seriously affect education, the economy and technological progress. But research and missions require money, and since NASA is a government agency, the financial issue is very dependent on policy. During the meeting, Clinton discussed her interest in space, telling a story from the past. When she was 14 years old she wanted to become an astronaut, but at that time, NASA did not accept applications from women.
“And I asked them about what should I do to become an astronaut? They thanked me for their interest, but they said that they don't take girls, ”recalled Clinton. “Fortunately, the situation has changed for Sally Ride and other great women astronauts.”
When in 2008, Barack Obama took over as president at the White House, one of his first priorities was to evaluate the Constellation program. This is NASA's powerful rocket system, which was supposed to achieve success in the development of space shuttles. But in 2010, this program was left due to rising costs, and its place was taken by the modern system of space launches.
If Clinton wins the election on Tuesday, it’s unlikely we will see many fundamental changes in the direction of Obama. But it will be interesting to see how significant a role it will play in the direction of science and space research in the United States over the next 4-8 years.