Astrobiology (general)

Why Is NASA's Astrobiology Program STILL Ignoring "Cosmos"?

By Keith Cowing
Keith Cowing
March 17, 2014
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Why Is NASA's Astrobiology Program STILL Ignoring "Cosmos"?

NASA’s Astrobiology program continues to totally ignore “Cosmos” – even when it offers millions of viewers a full episode on Astrobiology.

Sunday’s episode (the second) of Cosmos was devoted to Astrobiology. At one point Neil Tyson notes “All of the astrobiologists since Carl Sagan have wondered whether life swims in Titan’s oceans”. Astrobiology is getting a free PR boost at zero expense to NASA. All NASA has to do is pay attention, tell others about how it relates to what their tax dollars are doing, and benefit from the exposure. Yet NASA’s Astrobiology Institute has maintained a total black out on “Cosmos”.

If NASA can seize the opportunity to use social media to embrace and enhance Oscar buzz about “Gravity”, ISS visibility in “Live From Space” – and the Cosmos premiere last week, then why can’t NASA SMD and NAI do so with Cosmos over the coming weeks? Last week I was convinced that NAI staff was clueless in this regard. Now I am convinced that they are just incompetent – and negligent. And why doesn’t NASA HQ care – or have the ability/interest to direct NAI to show the same enthusiasm that the rest of the agency has aptly demonstrated?

March 10 Posting: Last night @NASA and other main NASA Twitter accounts devoted a lot of real time tweeting and linking of images and references in support of the premiere of “Cosmos”.

Most notably, President Obama thought it worth his time to make a rather unprecedented on-air introduction to the series. Oddly, NASA’s Astrobiology program did not say one damn thing. There is no mention on NASA’s main astrobiology website. No mention was made on their 880,000 follower AstrobiologyNAI Twitter account either.  

Of all the disciplines at NASA, this new Cosmos series probably highlights the core themes of Astrobiology more than almost any other. Its like a free weekly advertisement for the whole concept of what Astrobiology has come to mean over the 15 years.

Indeed, I doubt Astrobiology would even exist were it not for the cross disciplinary seeds sewn by the original Cosmos series and efforts by Carl Sagan to link life and the universe into one cohesive framework – something Neil Tyson continues to do. Baffling. Someone at NASA needs to kick the NASA Astrobiology Institute in their collective ass and get them to start paying attention to what millions of people are learning about their program.

Check Astrobiology News for more information on this topic.

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻