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By all accounts, the Jetsons are supremely badass.

George, Jane, Judy, Elroy and Astro live in an exciting time, complete with flying cars, housekeeping robot friends and nifty inventions providing one-button convenience to the minutia of everyday life. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t jealous of their leisurely yet sophisticated lives.

Yet all is not perfect. Sure, the occasional workplace calamities take place at Spacely Sprockets, but, beyond that, one other invaluable part of their futuristic sci-fi lives is still missing — aliens.

Thankfully, the “Star Wars” franchise bucked the Jetsons’ trend. Beyond giving us an epic battle between good and evil, the light saber, the Force, Yoda and the ultimate “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” case — the Death Star — they also showed us a vision of life on other planets.

And even if those instrumentally inclined aliens on Tatooine couldn’t help but play the same song over and over again in the first movie’s famous bar scene, they still played to our imagination.

And that’s part of the wonder of space. It feeds our imagination and our yearnings for knowledge and answers about the core of our existence. It grips the people of our planet and forces them to gaze up, pondering the gravity of it all — whatever “it all” is.

That’s why, given the great technology mankind has developed to help explore the great beyond, we feel it is necessary to explore it. And that’s why we’re proud of ASU’s ongoing commitment toward doing so — even if the motives turn out to be shady. (Does anyone else suspect President Crow’s next venture will be the New Intergalactic University?)

Rewarded by NASA’s astrobiology program with a five-year, $7 million grant to assist the search for extraterrestrial life, ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration has become a focal point of all that’s right with the University’s research initiatives.

But unfortunately, unlike space, these funds have their limits, and as much as we’re mesmerized by space exploration and the pursuit of otherworldly life, we feel as though that’s for the best.

You see, as awesome as space is, the realities of this planet must keep us (quite literally) grounded. As the world we live in changes, the way our resources are distributed must change, and it all boils down to a conflict between the values of human advancement and human maintenance. And in a culture obsessed with sustainability and self-preservation, the call isn’t a hard one: Maintenance wins hands down. After all, you can’t advance your society if there’s nothing left of it.

So as great as it would be to phone ET’s home, it cannot be a priority. Instead, dealing with issues such as the U.S. Census Bureau estimate of 37.3 million Americans in poverty is a more pressing need, especially in the face of the current economic crisis.

Unfortunately, non essential-to-life programs, such as NASA and its hunt for extraterrestrial life, will need to be the first to receive cuts as the country’s pocketbook starts to feel the economic pinch.

Indeed, it seems unlikely the space program will have any influx of cash in the near future, so for that reason, we hope the ASU astrobiology team utilizes their grant money to the fullest.

And we also hope that we’re wrong and that the ASU-assisted search for life in outer space doesn’t end up being the final frontier.

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