Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Shortly after NASA shared the first stunning images captured by the agency’s new, high-powered James Webb Space Telescope, a new online poll asked Americans: Was the nearly $10 billion observatory a good investment? And the resounding answer: yes.

Today, marketing and data analytics firm YouGov released an online poll of 1,000 Americans, asking their overall opinion of NASA and whether various space programs have been good investments. About 70 percent of those polled had a favorable opinion of NASA, and 60 percent thought the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, was worth checking out.

YouGov notes that this poll was conducted between July 14 and July 18, after NASA released the first dazzling JWST images of sparkling galaxies and nebulae on July 12. Those images seem to have been enough to top some JWST’s drama from the past. The telescope may now be in space and in operation, but it has been a long and harrowing journey to get to that point. Prior to launch, JWST development was characterized by significant delays and budget overruns. Originally, NASA and mission planners hoped to launch the telescope sometime between 2007 and 2011 for a relatively low cost of $1 to $3.5 billion. But the telescope went through a dizzying series of scheduling errors and mishaps. By the time JWST finally launched on Christmas Day 2021, its total lifetime cost was was standing at $9.7 billion.

To be fair, JWST’s nearly $10 billion price tag is its lifetime cost to NASA, so that includes most of its development since the early 2000s, as well as the first five years of its operations, according to the Planetary. Society. And the Planetary Society also notes that the total cost of JWST accounts for 0.0095 percent of all U.S. spending between 2003 and 2026.

Of course, most people respondents probably didn’t think about the price tag when they looked at the intricacies of the Carina Nebula that JWST captured in incredible detail. When the already iconic image was shown, people became poetic. “Amazed at the face of incredible beauty,” said one person responding to the YouGov survey. “I was quite overwhelmed by it,” wrote another. “It’s amazing to be able to see so much detail in such a small part of the universe.”

And those first images are just a small teaser for what’s to come. Stunning photos and revelations will only continue to come the longer the telescope operates in space. And the poll respondents said they would like more. “Some applauded NASA’s continued space exploration for its broader contribution to scientific knowledge and others said they look forward to seeing what else the telescope reveals,” YouGov wrote in the release.

YouGov also surveyed respondents about other investments in space, including the Hubble Space Telescope currently in orbit, the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle program. All received generally favorable reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.