The May 29 Business story “Go big, or go to war with the weapons you have” revealed the stunning fact “that between 1995 and 2009, the Pentagon spent more than $32 billion on weapons programs that were eventually canceled.” The programs were all for the Army.

In the same period, NASA was forced to cancel development efforts that had been underway for years to build space telescopes that could detect and study Earth-like planets around the stars closest to the sun. The problem was that these telescopes would cost a few billion dollars apiece, and NASA could not afford them.

Astronomers now know that Earth-like planets are commonplace — alien life is likely to exist in our neighborhood of the galaxy. Perhaps the Pentagon should start protecting us from a possible alien threat by surveillance of nearby habitable planets. If so, NASA (for whom I chair an advisory astrophysics subcommittee) has a few ideas on how to proceed.

Alan Boss, Silver Spring