Thanks to an alleged lovelorn meltdown, NASA has received as much general-media coverage this week since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin treaded on the lunar surface.
According to police reports, astronaut Lisa Nowak went bonkers, drove across the southern United States, and confronted a rival for another astronaut's affections.
Obviously, there is a human tragedy with this story, but there's also a tragedy of how low we've sunk in national attention on space science. What has NASA done lately? Here are some of the agency's 2006 highlights: successfully mapped inflation, returned to flight following a space shuttle disaster, found the strongest evidence of water on Mars to date, and returned pieces of a comet to Earth. And here the nation is, focused on an interstate love pursuit. Is this what it takes for NASA to become the lead story on television's nightly news or sit above the fold of newspapers?
The sensationalism of this coverage makes me long for the days when an uninformed American public gnashed its collective teeth and complained about how much the U.S. government "wastes" on NASA. At least they paid attention to space then.