Campaign '08

Rudy’s planetary protection policy

Of all the potential space-related issues that can come up during a presidential campaign, how often do we overlook important topics like this:

Presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani on Sunday said preparedness will be key for all crises, even an attack from outer space.

During a town hall meeting in Exeter [New Hampshire], a young questioner asked the former New York mayor about his plan to protect Earth.

“If (there’s) something living on another planet and it’s bad and it comes over here, what would you do?” the boy asked.

Giuliani, grin on his face, said it was the first time he’s been asked about an intergalactic attack.

“Of all the things that can happen in this world, we’ll be prepared for that, yes we will. We’ll be prepared for anything that happens,” said Giuliani, who spent the day campaigning in key early voting state.

Hmmm… this opens up a rich new vein of questioning for all the presidential candidates, not just Giuliani. How do they feel about a Mars sample return mission (after all, there might still be something microbial living on Mars that could be “bad”)? How much funding should NASA devote to astrobiology research? What about searches for potentially hazardous objects (which are not living, of course, but would be bad if one came here)? Who would be the tougher alien invader to deal with, Klingons or Romulans?

Somehow I think that last question has as good a shot of being asked as any of them…

6 comments to Rudy’s planetary protection policy

  • MarkWhittington

    For the humor impaired who might be tempted to post in outrage, one suspects that Rudy was having fun with the question.

  • Anonymous

    The Cardassians hate our freedom.

  • D. Messier

    I think The Onion headline said it all: Rudy is running for president of 9-11.

  • Anonymous

    “one suspects that Rudy was having fun with the question.”

    Sure he was smiling when he answered, and making light of the question/issue – but he’s basically repeating what he’s said 100 time before. Under his control, the Federal Government can protect “us” from “anything bad”. Whether it’s terrorists, or aliens, Giuliani runs on selling FUD. (fear, uncertainty, and doubt)

  • While I do not necessarily advocate a Mars sample return as a wise use of scientific money, the solution to back contamination is conceptually easy — deliver the sample to the Space Station. At great expense, we’ve built a first-class laboratory in orbit — why not use it?

    — Donald


    “At great expense, we’ve built a first-class laboratory in orbit — why not use it?”

    A few reasons off the top of my head:

    1) Some of the instruments we’d want to use on such samples to examine them at the atom-by-atom level are just too honkin big and/or power-hungry for ISS to accommodate.

    2) Even if instrument size and power was not an issue, we’d have to go into such an endeavour with the understanding that we may be consigning the astronauts involved and all future ISS hardware from ever returning back to Earth.

    3) And even if we’re okay with that possibility, the ISS will definitely come back down to Earth at some point. We might just be delaying back-contamination, not preventing it.

    A few things to ponder… FWIW.

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