WELLINGTON (AFP) Jan 27, 2004
A New Zealand scientist who specialises in space physics launched a publicity campaign Tuesday, urging NASA to let him be the first physicist to land
on Mars or the moon.
University lecturer Craig Rodger said it was time NASA changed direction and sent scientists into space instead of ex-military personnel.
US President George W Bush announced recently a revitalised space exploration programme which aims to send manned missions to the moon from 2015, and
eventually to Mars and beyond.
Rodger, a lecturer at Otago Univesity in the south of New Zealand, has issued a press release and taken out newspaper advertisements calling on NASA
to select him.
He said if he was not chosen he at least hoped the space agency would send someone from the scientific community.
"My campaign is to ensure they pick any eager scientists around the world... rather than just a whole lot of military guys who went to the moon last
time," he said. "I would love to be that person.
"When you look at the Apollo missions... last time, just one geologist got to go to the surface of the moon... otherwise, it was a bunch of
"This is an opportunity for science and scientists to get on board."
NASA has already made initial steps to follow through on the Bush plan by nominating a former admiral, Craig Streidle, to head a new Office of
Exploration Systems which will establish future priorities.
Rodger said outer space exploration was "imperative" for the evolution of science and offered the chance to experiment in vacuums, in crystals and
"A base on the moon would be like the first European colonies in America, outposts requiring investment, commitment and expansion... from a
scientific viewpoint it would be amazing."
Rodger specialises in Space Physics and the Upper Atmosphere. He has
a PhD in Physics from the University of Otago and undertook a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England.