Another “my day has been consumed by Ames so that is all I have to write about” post:
Here’s a thought to chew on – is one of NASA’s problems that it’s actually doing too many awesome things? I might be wrong, but the perception of many Americans seems to be that the only things NASA does are the big flagship missions – the MSL’s, the Space Shuttles, the Hubbles. If this were the case, the perception that NASA is basically a big science circus would be correct.
The reality is that there are so many projects going on at once that I doubt any one person could actually remember them all. Just over the past two days I learned about:
- A plane with a telescope coming out of it’s side
- A room that can be reconfigured to simulate any air traffic tower in the world
- A wind tunnel that vents so much air they have to alert air traffic control when they run it
- A robot being driven in real time from space
- A wind tunnel that moves air so fast that it generates enough heat from friction to require a giant tower of water constantly cascading over it
And those are just the projects from a fraction of a single NASA center that my frazzled brain can pull up easily.
I didn’t know about any of these things before I got to Ames. I like to consider myself pretty NASA-informed, so I can imagine that most people know even less about all the awesome under the purview of NASA. I’d bet this can be extended to the perception of research in general.
What’s the solution to the public perception problem? I’m not sure – it’s certainly not ‘do less stuff’ and there are simply too many research projects to generate excitement everywhere for each individually. Most people just seem bad at accepting things that have qualities beyond the scope of their full comprehension.