Asking YOU anything: What should NASA do next?

| On the social media platform Reddit, notable people often hold events called Ask Me Anything (AMA) where users are invited to ask anything they wish. They are the experts… and “redditors” have direct access to discuss, engage and learn from these celebrities, leaders and notable citizens. NASA astronaut and openNASA team member Ron Garan subverted […]

On the social media platform Reddit, notable people often hold events called Ask Me Anything (AMA) where users are invited to ask anything they wish. They are the experts… and “redditors” have direct access to discuss, engage and learn from these celebrities, leaders and notable citizens.

NASA astronaut and openNASA team member Ron Garan subverted the system last night, using this unique platform as an opportunity to ask the public their views on human space exploration.

I am NASA astronaut Ron Garan, I want to do an AMA but instead I want to ask you: What do you think NASA should do next? What’s should be the next destination for human space exploration?

Ron’s AMA has received 2,353,756 reads and 5818 comments in 15 hours. The Moon, Mars, Mercury and asteroids are widely debated… as well as space elevators, technology development, astronaut candidacy and exploration of the oceans. One of my favorites was about STEM education and the value of (perservering through) learning math. And some of those comments are incredibly insightful regarding what we do at NASA, the public’s view of space exploration and thoughts on where we should go next.

I don’t think it really matters where human spaceflight goes next, as long as it’s up and out and beyond where we’ve been before. Permanently.

If people saw NASA as a savior for financial problems, a scientific powerhouse, as an institution that directly benefited them, they wouldn’t want to cut it.

I’d like to see NASA turn into a more international organisation. And to be more open on their projects so that they can use crowd sourcing as a means of research, testing and contribution. Humans need to work together if we are going to get off this rock to explore outside of our solar system. Time to forget about country lines and work as earthlings.

That doesn’t necessarily mean no moon bases. It does mean, however, that you can’t go at the idea primarily in terms of “Let’s set up a moon base” but rather in terms of “What would a moon base get us, and what technological advancements must we focus on to get there?” Then, you can sell your idea to a public and to politicians who may not understand the importance of moon bases.

My thought is we need to develop the technologies for self-supporting, sustainable communities on Earth. We have limited high quality resources on our planet, and our waste products are threatening our quality of life here. The same technologies that you need for a good future here on Earth are the ones you need for a colony in space. So develop them, and apply them to Earth first, because that is where all the people are. Once you get them good enough, apply them to space also.

The next destination for NASA should be Elementary, Middle, and High-Schools across the country. I can’t imagine that you and your colleagues don’t LOVE what you do for a living. If you took some of that passion to the classrooms of soon-to-be voters and got them excited about the possibilities of the space-program you would do more to ensure the future of NASA than anything else I can think of. 

One reader argued that NASA’s focus has to be daring mighty things:

You ask what I want to see from NASA. I want to see NASA do things that will inspire what I cannot possibly imagine. I want NASA to accomplish the impossible and cause a ripple effect that brings about something even greater than what they’ve done. I want to see a NASA that inspires me and everyone around me to understand that impossible is only a limitation that I restrict upon myself.

What do you think NASA should do next? What should be the next destination for human exploration? Leave a comment here (or join the Reddit discussion if you prefer!)

We welcome your comments if you are 13 or older, and hope that our conversations here will be polite. You are responsible for the content of your comments.

We do not discriminate against any views, but may delete any of the following:

In short: be nice and add to the discussion. If you continually violate this policy, we may limit your ability to comment in the future. If you have any questions or comments about this policy, please contact us.

  • Miguel Antonio Alvarez Garcia

    hola,Quería referirme a la mision sobre el asteroide Apophis.Quiero aportar lo siguiente:

    1º)Deben posarse cinco camaras CCD sobre la superficie del asteroide.De la siguiente forma :

    A)tres camaras separadas entre si 120º con enfoque zenital mostrando la

    superficie total del asteroide,tal cual fue idea de Arthur C. Clark para la cobertura por

    satelites de comunicacion en nuestro planeta Tierra.Estas camaras grabarían datos

    “arqueologicos” de todo el viaje del Apophis hasta su regreso a la Tierra.En la superficie se

    deben poner “adhesivos”para polvo,imanes que capturen diferentes tipos de materiales

    paramagneticos ,cajas con tubos de ensayo con material de detección de vida extremofila

    organica,asi como PH y concentraciones de gases,e incluso algun tipo de plasma.Estas

    “Capsulas del trayecto” efectivamente se diseñaran en funcion de la previsible orbita que

    seguirá Apophis con los espectogramas q movimiento de que se recojan de los diferentes

    Radiotelescopios Terrestre .

    B)dos camaras CCD una en el sentido del Apophis(fordward) y otra en el

    sentido contrario de su trayecto(reward)

    2º) unos retrocohetes de forma que pueda desacelelarce progresivamente el asteroide en

    cuanto se acerque a nuestro planeta,incluso poderlo detener con el fin de que vaya una

    mision robotica o humana a recoger el material grabado por las camaras, y evaluar en ese

    lugar-in situ- las capsulas arqueologicas del trayecto.

    3º)por supuesto detectar y grabar el espectro invisible:x,gamma,uv,ir,radiacion de fondo,etc

    4º)como conclucion:Sera como volver a hacer los Viking pero sobre Apophis.evision

    Gracias…………………………….Les saluda: Miguel Antonio Alvarez García

    Como complemento a lo anterior añado que:

    1)Todo equipo fabricado y diseñado con nanotecnologia intuyo que tendría grandes


    2)El intervalometro de grabacion puede ser programado para grabar en tiempo real en 3D-

    Showscan-IMAX en partes del trayecto del Apophis,calculadas segun los mapas de

    radiotelescopios terrestres donde se prevea pueda pasar el asteroide.El resto pueden ser

    capturas de frames en stopmotion,por ejemplo 1 fotograma cada hora,con codigo de

    tiempo correspondiente al tiempo en La Tierra:dia/mes/año/hora/minuto/segundo.

    3)Es muy importante una imagen IMAX 3D SHOWSCAN que sirve para pasarse directamente

    en cine y television.Gran publico,enorme impacto mediatico,mayor interes de los inversores.

  • Rich Buckley

    Host a Zero Point Energy device demonstration fair and invite inventors from around the globe and let’s see what shows up. NASA has too much political smugness to not do it.

  • baz

    Its a no brainer to expect NASA to disappear, they must continue to go onwards and upwards.


  • Natalie

    There is a National Research Council project beginning today that seeks to answer that same question:

    Maybe we could take this same project statement and put our own response/report together? They have until May 2014 to deliver the report. I’d say lets finish in 2013.