Saturday, December 18, 2004

The BIG Picture (by astronaut John Young)

"The human race is at total war. Our enemy is ignorance, pure and simple. The last 25 years of NASA's Solar System exploration including Earth is telling us what we need to do to preserve our species. This new knowledge is useless unless we act on it. Large volcanoes on Earth, giant impacts on Earth, or unreliable solar activity cannot be ignored. Historical statistics show that these events are likely in our lifetimes or the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Knowing what we know now, we are being irresponsible in our failure to make the scientific and technical progress we will need for protecting our newly discovered severely threatened and probably endangered species -- us. NASA is not about the 'Adventure of Human Space Exploration,' we are in the deadly serious business of saving the species. All Human Exploration's bottom line is about preserving our species over the long haul."

Young is absolutely correct. But ignorance is a tenacious enemy. Will we triumph, in the long run? The odds are stacked against us; I would be quite surprised if we survived our technological adolescence and went on to become a robust space-faring civilization. As a species, we appear to lack the sense of perspective so direly necessary if we're to redefine our role in the Cosmos.


Former Astronaut, Engineers Hope to Deflect Asteroid

"Former astronaut Rusty Schweickart, chairman of the foundation, spoke about its goal at the Planetary Society in Pasadena, California. 'To deflect an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015. And we're not saying to write a paper about it, to think about it, to talk about it. We're saying our goal is to deflect an asteroid, that is, to move an asteroid, to change its orbit, by 2015,' he says."

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