Louise Prockter on a Panel at the White House National Space Council Meeting
Washington DC and Columbia MD. June 18, 2018. USRA's Dr. Louise Prockter, Director, LPI, was a panelist at the prestigious National Space Council meeting hosted by Vice President Pence and introduced by President Trump at the White House today. She spoke on the synegistic relationship of space and exploration, focusing on the incredible scientific discovery that exploration enables. Specifically, she mentioned the important role of robotics misssions and how they stimulate advancement in technology development. She also spoke about the key role of space exploration-related technology that has resulted in advancements in a broad range of areas and the importance of education in science and exploration. Here is the link to the video.
The full text of the statement to the National Space Council follows:
Mr. Vice President, Members of the Council, thank you for this opportunity.
Science and exploration enjoy a powerful synergistic relationship. Scientific research drives exploration, and exploration creates new opportunities for scientific discovery. This synergy is no more evident than at NASA which, in its almost 60 years of existence, has been the embodiment of humankind’s need to explore, to explain why we are here, and why our Earth is so unique.
Throughout those six decades, robotic exploration has proven to be a fundamental and essential component of NASA’s space program, enabling incredible scientific discoveries about our solar system and universe. In the beginning, robotic spacecraft also served as pathfinders
for the manned program, with the many Ranger and Surveyor missions characterizing the Moon ahead of the astronauts who visited it. And since Apollo, robotic spacecraft have continued to feed the quest to explore and learn. They have traveled far beyond Earth’s moon, examining asteroids, comets, and, with the recent successful flyby of Pluto, every planet in the classical solar system, as well as many of their moons. Robotic missions are even now being developed
to thoroughly examine ocean worlds – the few bodies in the solar system believed to harbor the ingredients of life, and maybe even life itself.
Robotic spacecraft act as scouts, going to hostile environments no human can safely visit – yet – and returning scientific knowledge that benefits our society in innumerable ways. Robotic exploration also stimulates investments in technology development that are highly significant in achieving national and economic goals. Space exploration-related technology has resulted in advancements in a broad range of areas, including transportation, public safety, consumer goods, industrial productivity, and health.
We must not underestimate the importance of education in this marriage of science and exploration. My own institute was created by President Lyndon Johnson fifty years ago, for the specific purpose of bringing NASA and the university community together. It was realized that the expertise of scientific researchers was needed in order to analyze and interpret the treasure trove of information that was being returned from the Moon around that time.
In addition to carrying out cutting-edge research, universities play a key role as incubators for highly skilled scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technologists, and educators, who then move into our nation’s workforce in many areas, not just space exploration. Hands-on science and technical training is just as important today, as we plan the return of humans to the Moon and beyond, as it was when we first met that challenge.
The US civilian space program pushes our scientific and technological limits, making the seemingly impossible, possible, and driving the creation of new partnerships with governmental, commercial, and academic organizations. NASA’s accomplishments capture the attention of citizens and nations worldwide, emphasizing the US’s global leadership in space and creating opportunities for peaceful and mutually beneficial international collaboration.