Aug 17, 2011

Atlantis's Landing Ends an Era, but Exploration Goes on Headed for Jupiter Finding Mud on Mars

It was sad when the space shuttle Atlantis landed, ending, for the moment, manned space flight for NASA. I was very young when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon, but I remember that moment vividly. Still arguing with Robert Miller everyday whether the first day of the week was Monday or Sunday [I stubbornly insisted it was Monday], I could grasp that putting people on the Moon was an amazing feat. Made me gasp and stare in wonder, teased my curiosity which has lasted a lifetime. So, I felt it was a step backward to shelve the shuttle and start hitching rides on the Soyuz, while working on a new rocket system which seems more like Apollo and Saturn than a step forward.

Yet exploration continues on. Our robotic counterparts go where we can not and find amazing things. The Mars Orbiter found evidence of mud on Mars, indicative of flowing water.

Juno launched on Friday, August 5th, beginning its four year journey to Jupiter, where it will study Jupiter with the same intensity Cassini continues to examine Saturn and its moons.

Dawn has reached Vesta, one of the largest asteroids/minor planets in the Asteroid Belt. Once it has spent some time with Vesta, Dawn will move on to Ceres. Maybe the minor planets aren't as flashy as the main planets to most, but I find them fascinating and want to know more.

I'm definitely fascinated by what they keep finding and will stay tuned for what they find next.