Archive for the ‘Precious Planet’ category

WANTED: A SciTech Revival

November 12, 2011

The ECO-FANDANGO that is going on right now is a save Big Money dance that makes sure not to disturb the profits-above-all-else motives of corporate America. Most corporations are flush with cash and are coasting along on set, big-bank supported business strategies that are enhanced by lowered worker populations. Status Quo is the rule and gets solid political support. Meanwhile, America is in an socio-economic decay cycle that will eventually undermine the status quo and all of us.

America’s rise to prominence and world leadership came about from a combination of brave, risk-taking innovators and a bold new growth of both science and technology. Right now the fiscal crisis hoax is directly seeking to discourage risk taking and definitely a turn away from aggressive science and technology advances. This is coupled with actions by Big- Money duped politicians to continue to protect corporate profit growth at the expense of employment and our natural resources conservation. Another very active example of our dedicated self-destruction.

SCI-TECH TO THE RESCUE:  First, corporations must decide to loosen their grip on their cash reserves and begin to invest in new technology. Secondly, the Federal government must inspire those corporate risk-takers by offering earned credits applied to their fully restored tax obligations. The elimination of all the tax breaks and other fiscal benefits we taxpayers provide corporations will make the chance to earn reasonable tax-breaks highly attractive. This is accomplished by reinvesting in our sci-tech revival . If done properly this becomes an attractive incentive for big business to again behave like real American industrial innovators. Additional credits can be earned by providing sci-tech employee training for those job applicants which corporations currently list as unqualified for current job openings. ‘

So what are some examples of this sci-tech revival. We will look at three key areas. They are (1) new energy systems, (2)breakthrough transportation technology, and (3)natural resource conservation. We, our government and our corporations need to understand that there is an incredible sci-tech research and development resource just waiting to be unfettered and financially supported. We must not ignore it and its almost instant availability. Let’s start the revival.

1. NEW ENERGY SYSTEMS:  Right now we are in a diddle mode by toying with systems (wind, bio, current solar, etc) that either by themselves or jointly are not going to meet both current and future demands for energy. Yes, solar could grow as a high resource, but it has its limitations as a sole resource. If immense solar array systems are linked with thorium based nuclear power systems we could very will establish a safe and fossil-fuel free energy generation, transmission and storage system. To achieve this we need to gain considerable maturity in the design, constructions and safe operation of this composite energy system. We CAN do it, We HAVE the sci-tech skills and wherewithal to start now. Status quo stalling, however,  imperils this entire energy future. In this regard, we must acknowledge that the delays to move in this direction are not precautionary, they are political obeisance to big-oil and big-money forces. We must break that choke-hold.

2.BREAKTHROUGH TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY: Again we are currently dancing around with energy efficient transportation systems. The diddle rules. Yes, there is a mild increase in both US and foreign development of electric vehicles, but we have yet to commit to infrastructure changes that will support a fully EV based transportation model. Additionally, although there are musings about fuel-cell and hydrogen powered systems this again is in diddle mode. A solid program that seeks to achieve a mixed migration from pure EV to EV+FuelCell technology is a possible strategy. Regardless, unless, as mentioned above, we can break the Big-Oil /Big-Money choke-hold on SciTech progress we are stranded in petrol-quicksand with no rescue in sight.

They, being the media, say we are too timid, too intimidated, and too indifferent to push forward. Well if we do not push forward we will surely FALL BACKWARDS!  In that case, shank’s mare will be our most innovative means of transportation.

3. NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION: What? Where is the Sci-Tech challenge here? Well, it could be the greatest and most rewarding that we can conceive. No, watering the flowers is pretty well accomplished, but dumping industrial offal on those flowers (Flowers in this case should be seen as our entire environment aka Planet Earth) kills them and most likely stifles all life in the area. This must be stopped.

Oh no, here we go with more restrictive rules and regulations and many marches of protest against polluters. Alas, more diddle! This is not to say that environmental protection by legislation and regulation is not important, but the real challenge is to find ways to give the polluters methods to produce and NOT POLLUTE! This is a sci-tech challenge, and for it to be effective it must be fully encouraged and financially supported by both government and private industry. The rewards to all parties, including Mom Nature, are immense. Here are just a few areas of research and development challenges and opportunities:

  • Just how hard have we looked at possible by-products from many industrial wastes?
  • Have we really determined the very best synthetic fertilizer for the farming industry that grows produce and does not produce stinking, life-stifling run-off?  No way?  Are you really sure about that?
  • CO and CO2 are generally bothersome, but as researchers already know they also are chemically useful. So why don’t we find more ways to pull them from our big polluters and put them to use for all of us? Stick the dollar incentive under our noses and guess what; VOILA; progress!  This is another critical joint government and private industry support activity.
  • GREEN is critical, and again sci-tech has and can produce answers to ways for we humans to co-exist on this planet while keeping it alive and well. Doing so definitely keeps us alive and well too. This latter point is conveniently ignored by both politicians and the BIGGIES.
SUMMARY: We already have the power to take these and many other progressive steps that will enrich our lives while protecting and preserving our home. Why, then, do we allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into accepting that the status quo is best for all and that progress is a hoax except where it benefits the BIGGIES? Have we given up on ourselves and on our amazing capacity to innovate and move all of us forward? If we are, in fact, giving up them we are denying our purpose as humans in the Cosmos. Well, don’t give up unless you are ready to simply let the status quo snuff out all your hopes and your life and the lives of your offspring – our future.
GOOD BYE STATUS QUO – LET’S MOVE ON!
IMAGE CREDIT: “WILD DANCES”. forum.alexanderpalace.org

HELP! We Are Being Poisoned!

May 20, 2011

Panic stricken crowds flee from the tragic Chicago fire.

The following discussion may seem far way from the broad topic of Explorology, but that is not and never has been the case. Scientific research is exploration of the most essential kind, and that is exactly what we will be talking about here.

Well, just like shouting ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theater, running out onto the street and shouting the above would either get you restrained or redirected to a mental institution. What if you are right? What if we should be shouting for help? Some of us do, and sadly too few responsible corporate and government leaders hear us. Actually, it’s pretty certain they hear us, but ignore us; hoping we will go away.

The above scenario instantly and dramatically changes if a news break or official announcement states that we are being poisoned, but by terrorists. Alarm bells ring, all kinds of serious looking people wearing protective clothing and headgear appear. Oops, false alarm, no terrorists and all the pollution samples are ignored or discarded. Everything returns to normal poisoning.

Our governments, national, state, and local all have many environmental and health agencies loaded with dedicated and skilled watchdogs. They all are ready and eager to extend their range and detection efforts, but unfortunately they are kept on short leashes. O.K. the whining and moaning stops here. The thrust of this blog article is to consider potential areas that either need expanded research or the initiation of new research.

We will approach this by considering a series of questions, some of which are hypothetical, but believed to be highly relevant.

Research and Regulation; are they compatible? Yes, they cooperatively exist today, but both need continual fiscal support, updating and solid leadership. Research has already established areas that need regulation to prevent harm to humans, but opponents of regulation legislate crippling acts that impede regulation or even abolish it. Research, is often affected by fickle funding which is also affected by oppositional lobbying attacks that either divert or stall funding for vital research into dangerous hazards to humans and our environment.

Innovation and Regulation; can they co-exist? Right now, it is a struggle. Entrepreneurs often regard regulation as barriers, both financial and operational, that prevent them from being successful and profitable. History reports many, many cases of the regulatory process being misdirected or ‘blinded’ by specific influence from corporations who seek to run outside the regulatory envelope. This is a clear example of the collapse of ‘arms-length’ relationships between the regulators and the corporate operations they are supposed to be monitoring.

Can sound and proper regulation be achieved and sustained? The first requirement is protection of regulatory agencies from politically inspired legislation that seeks to diminish or abolish their efforts. Changes, or redirection of any regulatory agency‘s operations should be exclusively the result of either or both research results and court decisions. The only legislation that would be permissible would relate to the scope of operations of the agency. In most cases this would result in White House executive orders and not direct legislative action. Most importantly, the regulatory process must be fully sensitive to new research data that either redefines or expands the target areas under the agency’s purview. Again, history records many areas where new data has been either overlooked or intentionally ignored due to political or corporate pressure.

Can scientific research receive increased government support and assurance of complete data review? Well, here again there are variables affected by political and social disputation of some findings (e.g climate change). This nation has a wealth of scientific review organizations most effectively represented by both the National Science Foundation and the National Academies of Science. These two organizations, plus the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy should exclusively moderate and resolve any such disputes. Assuming the data is correct and vital, the next step is inclusion of that data in the operational profiles of the responsible regulatory body.

Enforcement; obstruction or opportunity? Proper and complete enforcement of various regulatory issues is a variable. Screams from the offenders and their political cohorts claim “Big Government” intrusions. As a result the issue gets totally obfuscated by the harangue and the critical issue is left in limbo. If the enforcement process sought to provide suggestions and even means to derive alternative methods or products that avoid the offending process then suddenly the screams could become cheers and ‘intrustion’ bows out to ‘support’. For such a new relationship between enforcement and compliance there would need to be considerable changes in the regulatory process that would include sci-tech and financial support to induce the necessary new methods or policies. Yes, that costs money and time, but look at the money and time spent avoiding the regulatory process and the intense impact on the environment and humans. All of these avoidance strategies ultimately cost more and accomplish nothing, whereas a regulatory process that supports change as an enforcement aid could produce the desired safe environment. Most would call this constructive regulatory enforcement.

Is there a role for citizens in the research and regulatory process? The answer is,’absolutely.’  What is lacking is a fully coordinated process of taking those citizen inputs and reviewing them and assembling clear examples and descriptions of specific problems. Right now there are a host of environmental and consumer advocacy groups that take citizen input and present them to government, at all levels. The problem is, that these efforts often fall on deaf ears and no action occurs. This is often represented by glamorous, clamorous Congressional hearings that are filled with sound and fury, but yield little real results. This is an area of critical change. A clearing house process that evaluates citizen input via environmental groups provides a non-political and usually sci-tech assessment of the issue. Additionally representatives of the affected regulatory body as well as the offending organization also evaluate and comment on the issues. The end product is an official presentation to the Congress and the White House that enhances and further depoliticizes the issue. This should improve the chances of the problem receiving both full attention and support from the government. The objective is supportive enforcement as discussed above.

Come On! Is this something that can ever be put in place? Well, that is totally up to each of us. How really active are we in the entire process that evaluates and acts on environmental and health issues? Do WE consider these issues when we vote for our elected representatives? Do WE work as closely as we should with advocacy groups that seek to achieve some or all of the changes presented above? Lastly, do WE really care about our planet, our global well being, and full support for the scientific research that make all our lives better and safer? Government is US. What we do not follow up on weakens US and allows unregulated, renegade behaviors to endanger all of us. So we jump up, shout and scream and blame government, but that is US. So the ultimate solution is our own direct and immediate involvement. Can we get with it, NOW?

IMAGE CREDIT:

Panic in the streets of Chicago during the tragic Chicago Fire. From the Chicago Historical Society – Copyright 1996

A FLIGHT TO REMEMBER!

April 22, 2011

The image above is of Thatch Cay a small island off St. Thomas of the U. S. Virgin Islands. This is where we all took the flight we shall always remember.

It was December 24, 1981 and the four of us were in a great holiday mood. It was then we decided we needed to go diving, but at a very quiet and peaceful spot. The small island, Thatch Cay, within the U. S. Virgin Islands was ideal. It was rarely crowded with snorkelers and divers and had a number of glorious coral communities in the half-moon bay on the Atlantic side of the cay.

We headed out for Thatch Cay and its lovely bay. It was an absolutely glorious day. The weather was perfect and our dives in the bay area was so peaceful. We had the area all to ourselves; well except for all the friendly fish that joined our exploration. Of course, their friendliness was inspired by the little waterproof sacks of dry cat-food we brought with us. The fish love it, and they were all around us; even aggressively brushing against us to hurry us up to hand out the snacks. The idea of fish eating cat-food always makes me chuckle.

Since the dive in the bay took us to around 70 feet we cut it short because we also wanted to dive along the other side of the cay. We dove in the area just to the left of the arrow shown in the above image. That was the Caribbean side and the coral reef there was different, but strikingly beautiful and full of life. We were very careful to not create disturbing currents around the coral life with our dive-fins.  Of course, some of our fish friends from the other side had followed us around to the second dive site. Characters all of them. They are like house pets and just as apparently affectionate.

In settings like the ones we were enjoying, it is very easy to ignore your dive time and air status. I learned my lesson about this the previous year when I was so fascinated with a dozen or more Barracuda that had surrounded me that I ran out of air. I was at 90 feet! Fortunately my dive partner. a young lady, had air to spare and an octopus rig, so we shared her air as we ascended and returned to our boat. Dive partners are an essential both for safety and shared enjoyment. So, taking that lesson seriously I beckoned for all of us to begin to ascend and head for the boat.

As we were swimming up and toward our boat, on our right there appeared 9 very large and very relaxed Manta Rays, swimming along in loose formation. We immediately turned an swam towards them. This was in the area marked by the arrow in the above image. They did not shy away, but instead spread out a bit and appeared to welcome us as we joined up and begin to swim with them. Actually it is more like flying with them than swimming. These gentle giants, and members of the shark family are so magnificent, and here we humans were sharing space and time with them in their glorious universe.  I looked across at my dive partner, a beautiful, casting director for major motion picture companies, and saw that she was alternatively smiling and crying as we swam up close and personal with our ray escorts. Well, I was so excited I was sucking up air at a monstrous rate, so I knew I had to surface. I did so with regret and sadly bubbled goodbye to our Manta Ray buddies.

When we all got back to the boat, we just sat silently, not saying a word. It was obvious that we were deeply affected by what we had just experienced. To be welcomed so completely by another life form, in their environment was emotionally overwhelming and unforgettable.

We remained silent even during our trip back to St. Thomas and it was not until we were ashore that we reached out hugging each other, laughing, wiping away tears and each vowing to never forget our brief and glorious adventure. We had been in another world where we shared flight time with some of its most gentle and friendly citizens.

If you wish, click HERE to view a video that will give you a small taste of what we experienced. May it also leave with you, even vicariously, a deep and lasting appreciation for all that surrounds us here on Earth and throughout the Cosmos.

IMAGE CREDIT: The image of Thatch Cay is from Private Islands Online: http://tinyurl.com/2nku

THE VITAL TRANSITION: To Explore or Not To Explore

April 12, 2011

To Explore or Not To Explore, that is the question? Whether it is wiser to fall back under the darkness of fear and suspicion, or to rise up with courage and commitment to carry humankind forward and across the Cosmos? For humankind to continue to evolve we must make the transition from the darkness into the bright and glorious light of discovery. (Apologies to William Shakespeare for using a portion of his “Hamlet“)

Look how far humankind has come. It has not been easy, and it still is not easy, but fortunately there are those among us who persist and thus succeed in carrying all of us safely into the future. As expressed in an earlier blog article, Exploration;An Essential of Life, humankind is here today because of  a basic biological drive of all life to reach out and explore its surroundings. Most probably that is exactly what brought humans up from the sea to where we are today. Most importantly we are not finished!

We are surrounded by life, by energy, by natural phenomena that challenge and enrapture us. We cannot ignore their existence because we are part of it all and are driven to explore and understand. If or when we were to turn away, we turn away from ourselves.

That vital transition then is to accept the reality that we are all connected in many different ways including the entire Cosmos. This realization should be both assuring and exhilarating. Everything we do, everything that surrounds us, everything that happens in and around us is all interrelated. Sure, there are some scary parts, some mysterious parts, but there are also a multitude of inspiring and engaging parts. Summed together they represent our place in the Cosmos. To fully appreciate that relationship we must explore all that surrounds us. In exploring, we then discover and in discovering we then are compelled to explain. As we explain we add to or create science, and science is the foundation of our understanding of who we are and why we are here.

Fear disappears and suspicion and superstition are banished by reason and fact. A sense of insignificance is replaced by an awareness of our cosmic citizenship, and our important roles as explorers and explainers. We are essential, but incomplete without our acceptance of our unity with all that is the Cosmos. When that realization happens we are uplifted in joy and fulfillment. We are Cosmos.

The following video gives you an opportunity to enjoy a moment within a part of all that surrounds us.

 

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Publication Code: P6RRM3F9TBWP

CREDIT:

Image of Astronaut Bruce McCandless II who performed the first untethered space walk. Courtesy of NASA.

WE WILL GO THERE, But First….!

April 8, 2011

The “October Sky” style youthful achievement shown in the above video is a clear statement of the deep commitment to space exploration that we must achieve to again venture forth. Human spaceflight will evolve as a combination of government, private industry and both human and robotic astronauts. Right now, in this year 2011, it all looks only slightly brighter than dim. Most importantly, real and awesome success will come from the unity of effort of government and industry as well as with our international partners. We must work as one if we are to successfully go into deep space.

The following are five critical accomplishments that must become active reality if we are going to take humankind to our solar system and then out into our newest frontier – our galaxy. We must also realize that it is not a “final frontier”. We have an entire Cosmos to explore. Let’s get started.

  1. To ensure that we support a growing population of bright, young minds like those in the above video, we must both standardize and diversify our education system. This must start at the elementary level and progressively move all the way to graduate level studies. Diversification calls for strong science education, but also equally strong and inspiring education in the arts. Humankind is motivated both by dreams and by the arts (music, art, writing) that spread the word and the glory of those dreams. In all cases imagination and innovation dominate. Education cultivates and insures that domination.
  2. Solid, progressive governance is a vital ingredient of a space faring civilization. To insure both national and international political sanity we-the-people in all nations, must strive to achieve and sustain real democratic governance. To do this we must make sure that people shall prevail, and not greed and the addiction to power. The people must not let those dangers erode or even destroy that system. Not an easy task, and without an alert and devoted electorate, any nation can easily slip into pseudo-democracies dominated by only a select few. It is easy to snarl and complain, but that simply signifies a nation of people who have let things slip. Citizens committed to both democracy and to global unity have no time to snarl and complain, they are too busy and too involved in making governance work.
  3. Anyone who chooses to look up and behold the awesome glory of the night sky, or breathtaking dawns, or sunsets is easily mystified by all that overpowering beauty. Earliest humans translated those mystifying moments into expressed and treasured celebrations. These revered practices expanded and now seek to relate human morality and behavior to that mysticism. When all of those practices induce widespread compassion and a global sense of community among humankind they become strengthening and unifying. At the same time, science, equally mystified by all it sees and explores, diligently seeks to explain fully and truthfully. In both practices there are many moments of deep spirituality as we humans strengthen the bond between ourselves and all that surrounds us. For us to proceed across the cosmic seas we must achieve mutual respect and eschew distrust, suspicion and fear. We are enriched and made whole by all we come to learn. Lastly we come to accept all that proves to be true and to see it as a bond between humankind and the Cosmos. When we achieve this, we then joyfully join the cosmic community.
  4. We are not exclusive to all that is around us. We are in unity with it. Yes, all life-forms share resources and that give and take process is life-sustaining for the entire community. In this relationship, there is no malice or evil or chicanery only interdependence. When we nurture this interdependence we enrich both our lives and the community of  life that comprises this planet. If we fail in this respect we threaten the community and cause a decline in those vital resources and weaken that essential interdependence. Science calls this the process of extinction. If we seek to explore the Cosmos we must first stabilize and sustain the resource that supports that exploration. For now, for decades or maybe even for centuries to come, planet Earth (our community of life) must be protected to enable us to seek those cosmic revelations.
  5. We are not alone in the Cosmos. Yes, we have not yet made direct contact with other life-forms, but science on almost a daily basis is uncovering many clues that support the presence of life across the Cosmos. Life, in all its forms is, as stated above, interdependent and when we succeed in both respecting and protecting that reality then we are philosophically and sociologically reaching the stage where we can successfully meet other life in the Cosmos in a peaceable manner. Unlike those who first came from afar to this continent, we must not arrive to conquer, but to rejoice in our reunion with other members of the cosmic community. We must shed our warrior complex and sail that glorious cosmic sea as ambassadors of unity and peace. Remember, we are all interdependent.

Each of those five goals include within them long lists of responsibilities that we must fully exercise to meet each criterion to the fullest. In other words, we are facing an evolutionary life change. Hey, this is as it should be; otherwise, we stumble down the extinction pathway. There are a bounty of rewards as we exercise those responsibilities. Those rewards enrich us and inspire us to continue to move forward as a community of life. All of this, in my mind at least, restores and embeds hope in each of our hearts.

Lastly, the following video is a repeat, but says more eloquently than anything else who we are and why we are here and the glory that awaits us. Welcome to spaceship Earth.

ELEGANT, ELOQUENT and ELEMENTAL SCIENCE.

March 31, 2011

The dialog by noted astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is a good introductory beginning for this blog article. Please take a few moments to view and enjoy it.

As Dr. Tyson stresses, there needs to be a common dialog between the sciences and the rest of us. This is best achieved by what he refers to as Science Literacy. Now, some folks get right nervous at that idea. They interpret Science Literacy to mean they must become knowledgeable in the sciences and immediately feel both dejected and rejected. On the other side, many scientists despite their own broad interests become both impatient and discouraged by what they interpret as disinterest or suspicion on the part of the non-scientist public.  This is a precipitous divide! We must close that divide to progress and evolve.

Paraphrasing Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman’s “Ode On A Flower” he acknowledges the beauty we all see, but he goes on to point out that as a scientist he sees deeper and reflects on the elegant science that describes how the flower came to be. Both views are valuable and are clear pathways that can lead to a unity of concept between the scientists and the rest of us. The common ground is our mutual appreciation of the respective elegance of the flower’s existence. We see beauty and delicacy, the scientist sees uniqueness and also a set of common interrelationships that produce the flower. All contribute to the flower’s glory that we both see. The challenge is for the layman and the scientist to appreciate each others particular way of seeing things.

The artist/author thinks he “shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.” The botanist hopes he shall often see a living system as amazing as a tree.

There is eloquence in the expressions of appreciation and analysis from both sides. There will be unity when the layman stops to listen and learn a bit from the scientist while the scientist pauses to respect the layman’s perspective and to help to point out their mutuality, as Feynman does in his ode. The divide begins to close.

As a trained aeronautical engineer, I see a bird’s flight as optimum aerodynamics. As a long-time bird watcher I see the entire glory and beauty of both flight and the bird itself. This, to me, is an example of the successful merging of science and art.

If you wish, click on either or both of the image titles below to enjoy your own closing of the divide.  Additionally, you are encouraged to read Dr. Lewis Thomas‘s Lives of a Cell to gain an even deeper understanding of the vital link between science and the art of all that surrounds us.

CORAL KINGDOM

 

CELESTIAL CRAB

IMAGE CREDITS:

Coral Reef from> http://coastal-zone-management.blogspot.com

Crab Nebula: Astrophoto by Waddell Robey/Slooh.com

 

A RHEALIFE: An Explorer’s Journal – Part III

February 28, 2011

An Apology: I sincerely apologize for the lateness of this update to my journal. A series of intervening events kept me very busy and the best I could manage was to jot down some notes to remind me of ideas and events I wanted to include in this last part of my journal. I hope all of you will forgive this transgression.

The icy, fractured and chaotic surface of Rhea

Core Anyone?: As the above image of Rhea’s tumultuous surface shows, I had a very limited range of exploration; all of it considerably hazardous. The “dirty snowball” concept would seem a fitting description if my personal experience and research had not proved a different assessment of Rhea. Deep beneath Rhea’s crusty skin, there is evidence of a base core.

Tasty Green Plants: Even though there had been earlier research on the effects of both microgravity and hypergravity upon plant growth, I neglected to consider the changes in the tastes of the vegetable plants I grew in my hydroponic garden. The taste was not unpleasant; just different. I acquired a new taste for all of my green food.

Oxygen’s here: I continue to both assess and utilize the thin flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in Rhea’s atmosphere. Researchers are still investigating the possibility that similar thin but oxygen rich atmospheres may exist on other icy planets in our solar system and even possibly on some exoplanets in other star systems.

Something other than rings: Years back there was real excitement that Rhea may have rings. Well, I do not see any here, and I am right. It turns out that Cassini‘s detection system MIMI spotted something that behaved (one time) like there may be rings, but subsequent flyby’s showed no repeat of those indications. There is still something unusual that occurred that was either peculiar to Rhea or was an event between Rhea and Saturn or Rhea and another one of her sister moons.  There is a lot of action our here, but most of it is physics of the understood kind.

Well, its wrap up time: Yes, I am happy and proud that I was selected to be here, and I think my observations and reports have helped us to better understand the very intricate process of planet formation (including most moons). This same knowledge is helping and will continue to help us eventually understand what we finally, physically see in our neighboring exoplanets.

How am I doing? I am tired. I am weak, and I am ready to return to Earth. Despite my regular exercises, the microgravity of Rhea is physically debilitating. In this regard, long-term visits on planetary bodies like Rhea should be done by robots. Additionally, although all of my food, both grown and supplied was very nutritious, I remained constantly hungry. Why? In any given meal my chew-time was very short.  Don’t laugh, really. By chew time I mean just that, the process of chewing food is a neuro-physiological need that is directly related to hunger satiation. No chew or low chew often fails to produce our bodies hunger satiation response.

Ahh, but being here, in the eyes of Saturn will remain unforgettable. The imposing, gorgeous, and powerful giantess with her accompanying gaggle of moons is a constant panoply of celestial dynamics. Waking up to Saturn, or Titan or Dione or Mimas knocking on my window, so-to-speak, is difficult to describe. Lets just say I lived most days in complete awe.

Can humans exist in this kind environment for long periods of time? I would say, barely. It is cold, almost airless, with little or no gravity and depending upon the specific orbit of the planetary body, your days can be very short or terribly long.  Earth-style sunlight is not present and so a human’s life-cycle can get pretty confused.  It certainly was for me in the beginning. I adjusted, but I can’t wait for a good old sunrise on Earth. In this regard, I am, as far as my research revealed, the only living being on Rhea. We need to remember this when we continue our search for life on exoplanets.  Yes, we will find life out there, but most likely it will occur in a very Earth-like environment. Need I point out then, what a precious treasure our home planet is? Be kind to Mom Earth,  it is, at the moment,  our only safe and supportive home.

CREDITS:

Header Image:  Courtesy of Maestro Cassini and NASA – Rhea blue streaks.

Site Close-up:  Courtesty of Maestro Cassini and NASA – A crusty, fractured, icy Rhea.