Poll finds overwelming support for Mars exploration, doubling NASA spending

FEBRUARY 11, 2013
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Mars Curiosity
Mars Curiosity                                 Credits: NASA

ExploreMars.org, in a press release dated Feb 11, 2013, revealed the results of a poll taken of 1,101 adult Americans in early February by the communications firm Philips and Company. The poll measured the level of support by the American public for space exploration, especially of Mars, in the wake of the success of the Mars Curiosity rover.

Among the findings:

71 percent believe Americans will be on Mars by 2033, 20 years hence.

When told that there are two operational rovers on the Martian surface, 67 percent agreed that both robots and humans should explore Mars.

When asked what percentage of the federal budget goes to NASA, the average response was 2.4 percent with an average deviation of 1.68 percent. When told that the actual figure is .5 percent, 75 percent of those polled agreed or strongly agreed that NASA’s budget should be doubled to 1 percent. That would create a NASA budget of about $35 billion. It is an idea advanced by the celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson among others.

The majority of the poll respondents listed three reasons to explore Mars. Those are to achieve greater understanding of Mars, to search for signs of life, and to maintain American leadership in commercial, science, and national security applications.

73 percent of those polled stated that the greatest barrier for exploring Mars was affordability while 67 percent agreed that it was politics. Technological capabilities and motivation were not seen as show stoppers.

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Explore Mars was created to advance the goal of sending humans to Mars within the next two decades. To further that goal, Explore Mars conducts programs and technical challenges to stimulate the development and/or improvement of technologies that will make human Mars missions more efficient and feasible. In addition, to embed the idea of Mars as a habitable planet, Explore Mars challenges educators to use Mars in the classroom as a tool to teach standard STEM curricula.

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