In this week's Cybershake, experts debate if future space exploration efforts should be conducted with humans or robots. Plus, Web sites try to offer parents assistance in finding financial aid for college tuition.
Should We Stay or Should We Go?
At the memorial service for the Columbia astronauts, President Bush promised that humans will once again explore space. "America's space program will go on," he said.
But there are those who feel that kind of thinking is foolish. Among them, former NASA historian professor Alex Roland and now a professor of history at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
"Anything you can identify to do in space you can do more efficiently, more effectively and more safely with machines," says Roland. "When you put humans on a spacecraft, you limit its capabilities to do exploration and research because the primary function of the space craft then becomes getting the humans back alive, not conducting the mission."
Former astronauts, though, don't agree.
"Robotic missions can only do certain things," says Mae Jemison, one of the first astronauts selected after the 1986 Challenger explosion. "They can only do things that you've already thought of, in terms of possibilities. Humans have the ability to be much more flexible, where you can change the possible experiments that are done."
And like other proponents of manned space exploration, Jemison says putting robots in space wouldn't give us the complete picture of the new frontier either.
"To say that humans don't need to go somewhere would be to say that we can send a robot to Hawaii and have the same experience, the same evaluation as having sent a human explorer there," she says.
Besides, humans need to be in space, she says.
"There is a drive for us to explore," she says. "And to set that aside, I think, is not in the best interest of the advancement of mankind, of humanity."
Even some critics such as Roland believe that humans have a place among the stars — but only if it's there is true scientific worth to do so.
"I'm not saying we should get rid of all manned space flight," says Roland. "But I think the public would be tolerant of a lot more good space science and a lot less of astronauts floating around, tending [to] experiments that don't amount to much."
— Cheri Preston, ABCNEWS
Show Me the Money — For College
It's that time of the year again. For millions of adults, there will be intense scrutiny over household income, confusing forms to fill out and mail; and then the anxious waiting.
No, it's not just about preparing your annual federal income tax filing but something nearly as complex: Finding financial aid for your college-bound offspring.
Consider, for example, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a form that every family has to file annually to determine how much tuition assistance they are eligible to receive from the government.
Robert Franek, editorial director with the Princeton Review, says the New York-based company's Web site could help beleaguered parents through the maze of securing funding for Johnny's or Janie's higher education.
"We actually have you fill out a mock version of the FAFSA form, and it gives you lots of information on how to answer [the form's questions]," says Franek. What's more, at PrincetonReview.com, visitors can get other vital answers — like just how much tuition will have to be paid out of pocket.
"Any parent can go in and fill out the [estimated family contribution] calculator — which is pretty much what the government will do with the FAFSA form — and find out what you're going to be paying as an estimate next year," says Franek.
And if the amount of Federal aid looks dismal, parents can turn to other site tools.
"One big thing to find additional forms of aid is the scholarships search," says Franek. And at the site, parents and students can search for both national scholarships as well as independent sources — say merit awards given by local community groups.
PrincetonReview.com is just one of the many Web sites offering information and links about college loans. Other sources for information include collegeboard.com, students.gov, and collegefunds.net.
— Clarissa Douglas, ABCNEWS
Cybershake is produced for ABCNEWS Radio by Andrea J. Smith.