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Investigating public space exploration support in the UK

Entradas, M; Miller, S; (2010) Investigating public space exploration support in the UK. ACTA ASTRONAUT , 67 (7-8) 947 - 953. 10.1016/j.actaastro.2010.06.015.

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Space agencies such as NASA and ESA have ambitious long-term programmes that mark the beginning of a new era in space exploration where humans will land on Mars; an era requiring public support and, therefore, more consideration for public opinion. Empirical research shows that there are substantial differences in the level of understanding of space exploration among the general public. Studying audiences appears to be crucial to inform public engagement and communication strategies as well as policy debate. This paper presents the results of a survey conducted in the UK in 2008 at two science outreach events, the Royal Society Exhibition in London and the National Space Centre in Leicester, to investigate the motivations, beliefs, political preferences and attitudes towards space exploration of this audience. A sample of 744 respondents was collected. The analysis shows that the British public who come to outreach and engagement activities support space exploration but have some reservations about considering the advancement of UK space activities to be of national interest. Yet, when asked about means of exploring space, the majority agrees that space should be explored using both mankind and machines, ranking "generating new scientific knowledge and advancing human culture" as the most important reason for continuing investment in space research. Although the greater number of supporters says that more than the current government funding should be allocated to civil space activities, concerns about risk and value appear to influence this view. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Type: Article
Title: Investigating public space exploration support in the UK
DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2010.06.015
Keywords: Public opinion, Surveys, Space exploration, Attitudes, Political support
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/408883
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