"One small step for man, one Giant step for mankind......"

greenspun.com : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

With that epic comment NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the Moon and the first man to step on its surface in 1969. Now, nearly thirty five years later, the robot Rover took its "first steps" on yesterday in its journey across the rugged terrain of our celestial red neighbor, Mars. Traveling an estimated ten feet may seem like a small distance but when you consider the complex engineering and scientific calculations needed to program a vehicle to stand upright and travel based on computer commands millions of miles away from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)in California, the accomplishment is truly amazing. It's no different from the joy any parent savors in seeing his/her child take their first baby steps as they migrate from crawling to standing and walking in an erect form. Congratulations to the scientists, engineers and programmers at the JPL! The pictures Rover has transmitted about the Martian terrain have been spectacular and a terrific educational tool for school children in their study of space and science. Let's hope our itinerant photographer and curious fact-finder, Rover, continue to take these baby steps and go where no man has gone before. You make all Trekkies on Earth proud. QED

-- Anonymous, January 16, 2004


Professor Dickens,

Very rarely do I find myself in disagreement with you. I support your applause of the engineers success in planting a second rover onto Mars. I also thank you for your tax contribution to this 400 million dollar effort. Your largesse will not go unnoticed.

However, as one formally trained in the scientific method, I see a number of problems with the exploration of Mars. The media and NASA have said over and over again that the presence of "water- H20" would suggest that life might have once existed on Mars. The government is being disingenious once again in an effort to justify sending your tax dollars out into space. The presence of water on Mars would not indicate that life once existed on this planet because it is a scientific fact that "asteroids" frequently contain ice as they transit space. It is also a fact that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are known as the gaseous planets. Therefore, it is impossible for anyone to land on them. Jupiter has 95% hydrogen. One can imagine that during creation that atoms of hydrogen and oxygen could have quited easily collided with one another to produce H20. Now if they found carbon based chemicals like fossil fuels, this would strenthen their hypothesis that some form of life once existed on Mars because carbon is the central atom in all organic compounds.

Finally, amid all the celebration about placing these rovers on a barren planet, no one seems to get the big picture. When I looked at those photographs of barren terrain, I thought how unwise this country was to spend 400 million dollars to get photographs of a waste land. Where is the fiscal responsibility in government? The truth of the matter is that NASA cannot tell the American people any major contribution to their everyday lives that they have produced from their research in space. The experiments done in outer space have not taken place over any great enough period of time to produce any substantial results. How many billions of dollars will continue to go into NASA before people realize that instead of trying to colonize a barren uninhabitable planet called Mars we should be trying to improve our lives on this one.

I challenge anyone on this board to name one accomplishment that NASA has achieved which was not directly related to making more space flights possible. What major development in the everyday lives of Americans have resulted from the billions of dollars put into NASA?


-- Anonymous, January 17, 2004

Jazzman opines -

"I challenge anyone on this board to name one accomplishment that NASA has achieved which was not directly related to making more space flights possible. What major development in the everyday lives of Americans have resulted from the billions of dollars put into NASA?"

The single most important civilian development from NASA's programs of space exploration is the US winning the Cold War. It may seem esoteric to some but the facts are indisputable that American supremacy in inter-continental ballistic missles, Star Wars Program and satellite survelliance is due largely to NASA. President JFK's mandate to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade (1960s) was shaped largely by the USSR's Sputnik program in 1957. The fact that we can live without the imminent threat of Soviet missle attacks is more than just a comforting thought. In fact, without NASA, many of us who will sit back and enjoy NFL playoff football games tomorrow, wouldn't be able to do so if satellite transmission systems weren't perfected by NASA scientists and engineers. I am not a particle physicist nor have I been trained in the field of cosmology but I did minor in mathematics and as a result took several physics courses in that program of study. Your critical and dissenting views about NASA are appropriate and instructive. Both of us at one time lived and worked in Hampton, VA where NASA has a prominent place at Langley, AFB. My earlier comments were not so much an endorsement of NASA but more a recognition of this recent engineering accomplishment pertaining to Rover. I don't think the work of NASA employees nor the lives lost by Challenger over 20 years ago and last year's Shuttle disaster represent social waste and misplaced priorities. Any aagency which can encourage young children in America to achieve distinction in mathematics and science promotes the general welfare. QED

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2004

Guess who said the following: "I want to thank the astronauts who are with us, the courageous spacial entrepreneurs who set such a wonderful example for the young of our country."—Washington, D.C., Jan. 14, 2004

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2004

Jazzaman refers to the "waste"a ssociated with $400M expenditure. It would be interesting for us to digest the entirety of the Federal budget: IU am sure there would be some differing opinions on a line-item basis.

I can attest to the value of scientific and engineering byprodyucts that this kind of exploration produces. For those of you who are investors, the watchword for this year, thanks to NAA contributtions in the past, is "nanotechnology".

It's more than just Tang. :-)

-- Anonymous, January 18, 2004

Moderation questions? read the FAQ