Left in the Dust   Leave a comment

08NASA-master675

Opportunity.  Credit: NASA

 

There’s a really hard worker out there, a senior citizen by many standards, who labors daily to investigate new discoveries and justify employment.  It’s a familiar circumstance, as anyone who’s been to McDonald’s lately and notices the grey-haired workers slinging burgers behind the counter.

Except this time, we’re talking about a enterprising, determined robot named Opportunity.

NASA’s ten-year-old scrappy little fella keeps plugging away, searching through the red dust looking for, well, new opportunities.  And like many senior citizens out there, he’s survived wretched conditions: blazing heat, frigid winters, uncertain circumstances, life out in the open without so much as a complaint.  Somehow, someway it’s continued to plug away at the only job it has ever known, and that’s reporting its findings back to the scientists who record its reports and disseminate whatever they contain in the name of research.

Those days might end a whole lot sooner than anyone thinks.  The 2015 NASA budget has been slashed, with zero funds for our Earthern expatriate.

What’s becoming of America and its intrepidness?  I mean, really?

I’m not really a political person, but when I see opportunities lost (and this isn’t a pun) such as the one on Mars, I feel a bit more of our prestige going down the toilet.  We should be proud that a robot as resilient as Opportunity still continues to operate. as we almost certainly are with Voyagers 1 and 2.  And yes, there are plenty other missions slated for Mars, including manned ones.  But why quit an Opportunity now, when there’s still so much to be gained?

Our nation once threw itself into the space race full tilt.  Those days have ebbed, but the drive to encourage and educate young scientists isn’t fostered as diligently as it once was, or should still be.  I find this ironic, since we seem to be heading into second golden age of Sci-Fi.  With all the interest in what’s going to unfold in the future, shouldn’t we take a little hunk of our past and keep it going?

Though we’re gaining ground of what sort of planet Mars truly is, it’s become a group effort among nations.  Everybody who’s industrialized seems to have their eyes set squarely on Mars, for science and the inevitable drive for profit.

Which leaves me to wonder: is America up to the challenge anymore?  Does America really care about its space legacy?  Has it lost its imagination about how far we can go?

I sure hope not.  I’m still betting Star Trek is a chronicle of the future, sent back to us here in the past, just like ST IV: The Journey Home.

Posted April 10, 2014 by seleneymoon in Space Missions, Star Trek

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