AstroTours.org recently had the privilege of participating in The Planetary Society's Day of Action in Washington, DC, and we couldn't be more stoked to share our experiences with you. It was an incredible opportunity to advocate for space sciences and planetary exploration alongside over 100 passionate members of The Planetary Society.
A Mission for Planetary Science
On September 18, 2023, we joined forces with fellow advocates to make the case for a well-balanced and robust budget for planetary science. The upcoming fiscal year is a critical juncture for funding the next generation of space missions. It's a time when public support for NASA's science programs needs to shine, and that's precisely what we aimed to achieve.
The Return of In-Person Advocacy
After three years of virtual activities due to the pandemic, The Planetary Society revived its flagship in-person advocacy event. This event was a unique opportunity to connect with our representatives in Congress and convey the importance of planetary science at a time when budgets are under scrutiny.
Despite the political divisions in Washington, space exploration remains a unifying topic for legislators. We were warmly received by staff and Members of Congress from both parties and both chambers. It was heartening to witness the bipartisan support for science and space exploration.
Advocacy Knows No Boundaries
In addition to our in-person meetings, over 300 advocates from 47 states and the District of Columbia took action online. They sent letters to their legislators to coincide with the Day of Action meetings on Capitol Hill. These collective efforts make a real difference, especially when proposed cuts threaten space science missions.
Focusing on Mars Sample Return and Beyond
One of the central themes of our advocacy was the Mars Sample Return program. This program faces potential cuts despite widespread support from the scientific community and the public. We highlighted the importance of this multi-phased mission, emphasizing the need for consistent funding to avoid significant delays.
Our meetings with high-profile Members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House CJS Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers, and 19 other members of the House and Senate, emphasized the urgency of adequately funding Mars Sample Return.
Beyond Flagship Missions
Our advocacy extended beyond flagship missions to champion smaller and medium-sized missions. These missions play a crucial role in advancing our understanding of the cosmos. Advocates expressed enthusiasm for projects like Dragonfly, VERITAS, and NEO Surveyor, each of which promises groundbreaking discoveries.
Supporting the Future of Space Science
We also advocated for NASA's Research & Analysis program, highlighting its importance in enabling scientists to make discoveries using NASA's mission data and in training the next generation of space science leaders.
Why Advocacy Matters
Our experience at the Day of Action reinforced the vital role of advocacy in shaping the future of space science and exploration. It's not merely an event; it's a pivotal moment in The Planetary Society's mission to advance the exploration of space for a better understanding of ourselves and the Universe.
We left DC with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that our voices were heard on Capitol Hill. We're excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for space science and exploration, and we're committed to continuing our advocacy efforts.
We hope to see you in D.C. next year, joining hands as we work towards a brighter future of space exploration.
Ad Astra (To the Stars),