The joint poll, conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, asked 1,137 adults a series of questions regarding space. The respondents were told to highlight which issues they considered “very” or “extremely important.”
The poll found that 80% of Americans believe that the US is not the world leader in space exploration. Sixty-four percent, on the other hand, said that the US is one of the top forces in the field, while 17% said that the US is not a prominent player in space exploration. Seventeen percent of respondents, on the other hand, said that the US is the leader in space exploration. Most of those surveyed also noted that the federal government, rather than academia or private companies, should be leading space exploration.
While 68% of those surveyed said that monitoring asteroids, comets and other space events is extremely or very important, only 27% said that sending astronauts to Mars is equally important. Twenty-three percent of participants believe that sending Americans back to the moon is an extremely or very important space matter, while 21% believe it is important for permanent human presences to be established on other planets. Nineteen percent said that establishing a US military presence in space is extremely or very important.
Furthermore, most respondents did not appear excited about another trip to the moon. Forty-two percent of respondents supported US Vice President Mike Pence’s urging of NASA in March to send astronauts to the moon within five years. However, 20% opposed Pence’s idea, while 38% were ambivalent. In fact, 37% of those surveyed said that sending astronauts to Mars is more important than sending them to the moon, while 18% polled in favor of NASA sending more astronauts to the moon. Forty-three percent said that sending astronauts to the moon or Mars should not be a priority for US space exploration.
In addition, half of those surveyed said they would take the opportunity to orbit the Earth, while 31% said they would travel to Mars. Less than half of Americans said they would travel to Mars if that meant not being able to return to Earth.
In terms of extraterrestrial life, 75% of respondents believe that life exists in other parts of the universe, while 65% said they believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. However, older Americans aged 50 and up were less likely than younger adults to believe in extraterrestrial life.