It seems some NASA supporters took the news about a potential across-the-board budget cut in FY2011 (which may or may not happen, and may or may not include NASA) pretty hard: on the microblogging service Twitter, the news generated a flurry of tweets in the last day or so, all tagged with the search term “#saveNASA”. While it’s not clear just in how much jeopardy NASA’s budget is, it hasn’t stopped people from rallying that something needs to be done to, well, save NASA.
What that something is isn’t clear: most of the tweets are actually “retweeting” other posts, most of which cite the technological spinoffs created by NASA (good if you’re trying to justify technology development, not as effective if you’re trying to save human spaceflight). An example: “If you don’t think we should #SaveNASA, please throw away ur pacemaker, dialysis machine, cancer detection technology, cell phone, etc. Thx!” Then there are the electoral threats: “Dear Obama. I voted for you. I in fact managed to get my whole family to vote for you (amazing!) Now is your time to keep my vote. #SaveNASA”
What these “space tweeps” plan to do to convince the White House to save NASA isn’t clear yet. One person has created a social networking site whose stated goal is to “convince the Obama Administration to maintain NASA’s funding” (wait, what about that $3-billion-a-year increase space advocates had been supporting?), but other than that there’s no focus, nor any reason why this should exist rather than joining existing groups and efforts. Perhaps the plan is to inundate the White House with pro-NASA tweets: after all, @BarackObama is big on Twitter. (What’s that, you say, President Obama says he’s never used Twitter? Time for a #planB.)