A camera on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recently spotted the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater. The image is color-enriched to allow surface features to become more visible.(NASA/JPL-Caltech)
This is Apollo memory month, when the 50th anniversary arrives of the first landing of astronauts on the moon. It was a very big deal and certainly deserves attention and applause.
But there’s something unsettling about the anniversary as well, a sense that the human exploration side of NASA’s mission has disappointed and that its best days were many decades ago. After all, it has been quite a few years now since NASA has been able to even get an astronaut to the International Space Station without riding in a Russian capsule.
There have been wondrous (and brave) NASA human missions since Apollo — the several trips to the Hubble Space Telescope for emergency repair and upgrade come to mind — but many people who equate NASA with human space exploration are understandably dismayed.
This Many Worlds column does not focus on human space exploration, but rather on the science coming from space telescopes, solar system missions, and the search for life beyond Earth.
And as I have argued before, ...