Americans' reactions to new NASA images from the James Webb Space Telescope

Linley SandersData Journalist
July 19, 2022, 4:30 PM GMT+0

Last week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, which show views of the universe that people have never seen before. A new YouGov poll asked 1,000 Americans to share their views on space exploration, NASA, and a new image of the Carina Nebula, which shows “the earliest, rapid phases of star formation.”

According to the poll, conducted July 14 - 18, seven in 10 Americans have a very or somewhat favorable view of NASA; just 13% view NASA unfavorably and 16% say they don't know. More men (76%) than women (66%) have a favorable perspective on the space-research agency, while similar shares of Democrats (79%) and Republicans (72%) view NASA favorably.

Three in five Americans (60%) believe the Webb telescope, which was launched in December 2021, is a somewhat or very good investment. One-quarter (26%) are unsure, and 13% say it has been a bad investment. Americans are generally in favor of many of the space investments that were polled, including the satellite-based GPS (76% call it a good investment) and the Hubble space telescope (70%), which is largely referred to as the predecessor to Webb.

YouGov showed respondents the NASA-released picture of Carina Nebula and asked them to share their reaction to the image in an open-ended question. Many called the photo “beautiful,” “pretty," or “amazing,” while others wrote about the impact it has on their understanding of the universe. Some applauded NASA’s ongoing space exploration for its broader contribution to scientific knowledge and others said they look forward to seeing what else the telescope reveals.

— Carl Bialik, Taylor Orth, and Allen Houston contributed to this article

Related: Two in five Americans would not take a trip to the moon, even in guaranteed safety

This poll was conducted on July 14 - 18, 2022, among 1,000 U.S. adult citizens. Explore more on the methodology and data for this poll.

Image: NASA

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