Friday, June 20, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different . . .

I rarely, if ever, write about space exploration. Of all the things we do as a country, it is probably the least important to our social well being.

This doesn't mean it isn't cool.

Since childhood, I've loved the pictures and film we've received from various probes, flies-by, orbiters, etc. I don't think they mean a whole lot other than being fascinating scientific enterprises which, while certainly important in and for that reason, are not indicative of anything other than a human desire to figure out the universe in which we find ourselves.

The above photo is a gorgeous stereoscopic landscape, available here, the site dedicated to the Phoenix Mars Mission. While the Phoenix recently discovered evidence of water ice on the red planet, I think this image, more than any other, shows how beautiful, harsh, and uninviting, the fourth planet is and will always be to human beings. I am 100% behind robot exploration of our solar system. Human exploration, however, is extremely costly, would be marginal at best in the return on investment, compared to the relatively huge return on investment from robotic exploration, and would only prove that human space exploration is best left to the imagination.

Beautiful photos. Harsh photos. Cool photos. Let us leave them as photos, however. Mars is no place for people.

Virtual Tin Cup

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