Wednesday, December 05, 2012
This 35-year-old satellite is long-term PR for robotic space exploration. This mission is another successful example of machines going where man cannot yet reach. Both are ripostes to those who want the footsteps of humans everywhere in the solar system and someday beyond. Never mind that manned missions are more expensive and dangerous. Voyager and Curiosity are demonstrating that exploration is being done at the limits of human endurance and well before humans venture that far away from earth. Landing on the moon was a technological triumph but it also was a publicity stunt that cost billions. Only a government with the wealth of the US could afford to do it and it hasn't had the wherewithal since. There is a good chance that someday man will colonize the moon, but given what we know about it, the facilities are more likely to be like Antarctica than anywhere else on earth. The environment will be unrelentingly hostile and visitors will be scientists and workers to keep the bases open. Despite the science fiction fantasies of dreamers, Mars isn't likely to be much different. Machines have shown the way and more will follow. Isn't that enough?