This article is fascinating–and very surprising. I always thought manned missions where what people wanted and expected NASA to do. Wrong (boldface mine):
However, a new survey of 2,541 Americans by Pew Research Center, which aims to represent the views of US adults, finds that these views appear to be out of step with public priorities.
The survey asked respondents about their top priorities for NASA, and the highest support came for “monitor key parts of the Earth’s climate system” (63 percent) and “monitor asteroids/objects that could hit the Earth” (62 percent). Sending astronauts to Mars (18 percent), and the Moon (13 percent), lagged far behind as top priorities for respondents.
A lot of respondents said manned travel was important, but very few put that as the top priority. Interesting.