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Apologies owed to NASA

Your political cartoon (Nov. 17, 2014), "Not to be outdone, NASA lands on comet too" has got to be the most insulting and degrading of a government agency that I have ever seen. I do not see the benefit of debasing, a government agency (NASA) tha...

Your political cartoon (Nov. 17, 2014), "Not to be outdone, NASA lands on comet too" has got to be the most insulting and degrading of a government agency that I have ever seen. I do not see the benefit of debasing, a government agency (NASA) that actually accomplishes something.

Has NASA landed a spacecraft on a comet? No, but in 2001, NASA landed the NEAR spacecraft on the asteroid Eros, 13 years before ESA landed Philae on Comet 67P. NEAR was never meant to land on an asteroid, merely orbit and return data. At the end of its ability to orbit, NASA decided to land NEAR on Eros and was successful. NEAR transmitted data for a short time. Quite an accomplishment for a craft never meant to land.

I am not downplaying the accomplishment of the ESA in landing Philae on comet 67P. It was huge, but the saying for NASA is, "Been there, done that."

May I ask a few questions?

How many other space agencies have a spacecraft in the outer solar system? NASA has four (Pioneers 10 and 11, Voyagers 1 and 2) with another on the way, New Horizons, due to fly by Pluto in July, 2015. No other space agency has gotten beyond Mars with any success.

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The Voyagers launched in 1977 still transmit data.

How may other space agencies have spacecraft orbiting in the Saturn system? NASA has Cassini which has been returning data for more than 10 years.

How many other space agencies have successfully landed on Mars? NASA has Curiosity and Opportunity.

Remember the Apollo program of landing 12 astronauts on the moon between 1969 and 1972.

The list of NASA accomplishments and currently functioning NASA spacecraft is many.

I think you owe your readers, but especially NASA a big apology.

Fred Baker

Motley

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