Learning about new scientific topics can be intimidating; nobody wants to appear out of their depth. Here at Optical Mechanics, we understand that many people feel uncomfortable asking questions about things they might not be fully knowledgeable about. This is why we decided to break down some fun and easily digestible facts about NASA. For example, many people don’t know what NASA even stands for – if it’s bugging you, then we’ll tell you straight away: it stands for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. That might be a bit of a surprise to some of you, as something routinely called a space agency having “administration” in its name would be enough to throw many people off.
But what other questions might be bugging you about NASA? Do you know how old this government agency is or who founded it?
Do you know how much money it gets from the government every year or what mission it is currently on or has recently completed? Let’s get into the details about what makes NASA such a fun and exciting part of the United States’ scientific community.
How Old Is NASA?
NASA was founded on July 29th, 1958, as part of the United States’ cold war with the USSR. Both countries wanted to be the first powers to be able to send humans into outer space and eventually even land on the moon. NASA was founded with this goal in mind.
While people have always thought that human spaceflight was a ridiculous fantasy, with the influx of German rocket scientists that swelled the ranks of the United States and its scientific community after World War 2, it suddenly seemed much more achievable.
As you likely know, it took only 11 years for NASA to achieve one of its primary goals of sending a human to the moon and having them walk upon it successfully. Once this goal was attained, obviously, the United States enjoyed a massive amount of praise. It was able to conduct all sorts of science experiments, all thanks to the tireless efforts of those scientific minds employed at NASA.
What Are NASA’s Current Goals?
Right now, NASA is conducting many different missions. In fact, the deep space exploration agency has over 20+ missions going on. These include rovers on Mars that analyze different samples of soils, temperatures, atmospheric levels, and more, and probes sent out to the far edges of our solar system to get a closer look at the Kuiper belt and the dwarf planets.
They include putting out many satellites that orbit the Earth and tell us more about our own planet and how it functions. While you might think NASA focuses on outer space research, NASA has stated that the planet it currently studies and researches the most is the Earth itself, and this makes sense because it is the one that we are all living on!
While many scientific minds talk about the future as if we are all going to be colonizing other planets, the truth is that the overwhelmingly vast majority of the scientific community disagrees with this.
This is why most of NASA’s current goals focus on analyzing the effects of climate change and learning more about how greenhouse gases and carbon emissions might affect the Earth. Satellites can analyze the size of the polar ice caps, how rapidly they are melting, rising ocean levels, rising ocean temperatures, and even detect shifts in oceanic currents.
NASA’s current goals also look at understanding more about our own solar system in general and looking for planets that might be hidden beyond what we currently understand to be the boundaries of said system.
While you might think we have mapped out just about everything there is to map out in our relatively immediate vicinity in space, most NASA scientists might disagree with that assessment and tell you that it’s easier than you might think to hide a planet away.
Things like light and shadow can be very skewed in space, and even with the best telescopes, satellites, and probes available to us, NASA scientists are always more than prepared to admit that they might not understand things in space as much as we suspect they do.
Learning More About NASA
If you’re interested in learning more about NASA, we highly recommend you look at their website and various social media accounts. As a government organization, they have a lot of information freely available to the public.
You can learn about active NASA missions, what astronauts are currently on the International Space Station, and more about our little slice of the universe. While many politicians have called for the elimination of NASA’s budget, most scientists would probably argue that that is a silly move that will have vast ramifications for the global scientific community.