“Avatar” Phenom Cameron Stumps for NASA

WASHINGTON: James Cameron is coming out from behind the camera to plug for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The “Avatar” director has done a series of public service announcements for the agency. The spots focus on NASA’s Earth science program and its contribution to environmental awareness.

“When NASA ventures into space, it remembers to keep a steady eye on home,” Cameron said. “Its fleet of Earth-orbiting satellites constantly reveals our whole planet: its remotest places, its mysteries and the powerful influence of humans.”

Cameron’s 3-D epic, “Avatar,” based on the fictional planet of Pandora, is coming back to theaters this week. The story carries a heavy environmental message. The NASA PSAs feature “Avatar” film imagery and include computer animations and data from NASA’s fleet of Earth-observing satellites. NASA says it has 14 science satellites in orbit making global observations of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, snow and ice.

NASA Television will broadcast the announcements starting Tuesday. They also will be provided for other interested media outlets.

The PSAs come as NASA fights to retain funding for programs. The five-year moon mission was flamed out of the 2011 budget, and there will be no new, ongoing NASA space shuttle missions for the time being. The proposed 2011 allocation is $19 billion, compared to $18.3 billion for 2010.
-- Deborah D. McAdams