Posted tagged ‘exploring’

A RHEALIFE: An Explorer’s Journal – PartII

January 7, 2011

FOOTPRINTS ON RHEA: Getting Here

This blog-post is from my dream/wish series. I acknowledge there is more imagination here than science and technology, but then dreams have always inspired the sciences haven’t they?

Cassini Spacecraft Orbiting Saturn - Credit NASA

The Cassini legacy: I cannot begin to tell you how many years I have dreamed of an opportunity like this. I also cannot begin to tell you how excited, actually ecstatic, I was when I finally knew I would get to come to Rhea. The incredible research, development and preparation that went into this program humbles me, because right now I am the only one here. All research and reporting depends upon me. I often wonder if I am as good as the great spacecraft Cassini was. Actually, I am here because of what Cassini helped all of us discover.

This part of my journal is pretty techie, but I give you the option of deciding how much detail you want by providing links to those details. Additionally many of those links will contain links to even more details; a data drill-down opportunity.

Super Shuttle Despite a dreadful period of poor financial support for space exploration programs in the early (2010-2015) years of this century, concept designs for space exploration vehicles progressed. Out of this came, what I have always referred to as the “super-shuttle”. This is a virtual space-truck that successfully transports astronauts and various equipment to the Moon, some asteroids, Mars and finally Saturn and its moons. In this regard, back in 2010, I made an early prediction of what the super-shuttle would be like. You may click here to review that article.

This super shuttle is a totally committed space vehicle, by this I mean it has never touched land on any planetary body. It is fully assembled and tested in a low earth orbit or L2-L4 space environment and plies the solar system as the main service support spacecraft for an international consortium of space-faring nations. You may visit here to get more details about this spacecraft.

To place me here on Rhea it took two shuttles to carry all the equipment and supplies needed for my extended stay. You will see why when you read about setting up the research station.  The consortium officially named the station, StationRhea.

Setting up StationRhea:Because no one has been on Rhea before, there are many unknowns as well as the known environmental challenges of this moon. With a gravity factor that is approximately 1/3 that of Earth’s Luna poses major operational and atmospheric problems. For all practical purposes Rhea has no atmosphere despite Cassini’s discovery of the presence of both oxygen and carbon dioxide. If you wish, you may go here to check, again, the comparison between Rhea and Luna.

As I mention above, it took two visits to Rhea to establish StationRhea. This is made clear when you select the preceding StationRhea link . I did it this way to keep this narrative (journal) manageable in size. Additionally the StationRhea document also has links to supportive data. You will need to exit each window to safely return here to this document.  Additionally, about the time I finish up Part III of this journal, a new Cassini II will have made a fly by and photographed StationRhea. I will post a copy of that image in Part III.

Experiencing the Saturn System: At this point I would like for you to get to know more about Saturn and her moons, and especially Rhea. The following link will take you to an interactive media display that will let you get the feel for where I am.  This display was created by NASA/JPL when Cassini was still continuing its visit to the Saturn system. When you open the link, please select the Launch Cassie button to start the interactive display.  When Cassie starts, I suggest that you first just observe the orbits of Saturn’s inner moons and see Rhea’s and how it relates to the others and her relative distance from Saturn. I urge you to continue watching the orbits until you get to see both Titan and Iapetus’s orbits. Lastly, if you watch long enough, you will see Cassini make one of its passes. Here is the link to get started.

Conclusion Part II: I know navigating this part of my journal has probably been tedious, I apologize, but I hope you did visit all or most of the links. Getting here has been an enormous effort by so many people and so much creative breakthroughs. Please take your time visiting all the links to begin to see the extent of those efforts.  Yes, this , as I said in Part I, is an imaginary journey, but it is intended to imply the possible future. We will make these types of explorations and with each one we will learn more about who we are and how we got here. In achieving that knowledge we will take giant steps in our evolution, and in evolving we move closer to who we are meant to be.

In A RHEALIFE Part III I will present many of the research results about Rhea. I will also discuss the mental and emotional effects of being the only astro-researcher on a remote planetary body, and how that may bear upon the accuracy and completeness of my observations and reports.

CREDITS:

Image of Cassini and Saturn: Artist concept courtesy of NASA/JPL

New Header Image: An artistic manipulation of an astrophotograph of the Crab Nebula. Original and artwork by Waddell Robey (c) 2010


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DRIVE OUT THE “HO HUMS”:Send In The Explorers

November 26, 2010

Right now, for so many of us, the future has the look of a scattered picture puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Oh yeah, we have been here before and have survived. One of the keys of our past survivals was the abundant view of a promising new future. We were able to dream and hope and thus our struggles, though painful, held promise and actually moved us forward. Well, we need such a set of views now. Most importantly, we need to send in more than clowns. We need to send in explorers to give us realistic dreams and hopes for our future. This has always worked for all humankind and it can work now.

Lo and behold, there is just such an exploratory rescue on the horizon! The aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin Corporation has announced its plans to launch an exploratory mission to the dark side of the Moon. Now as a space exploration venture by a leading member of the private sector, this is spectacular. In our opinion to make it even more spectacular and scientifically promising we would like to see this project become a joint effort by Lockheed-Martin and NASA.

Oh yes, we hear the grind, buzz and rattle of the government budget hackers as they get ready to launch another warning rant about the high cost of space exploration. We also hear the doors slam of the White House science advisory staff who have already exhausted their limited imagination. These reactions ignore the truly realistic economic stimulus for both the private sector and the legion of space exploration specialists stuck hopelessly on idle. On top of this is the incredible benefit of an awesome, exciting and stimulating space exploration effort. It reawakens both public and media interest and support. “Ho Hums” begin running out the door.

The working relationship between NASA and Lockheed-Martin is time-tested in the cauldron of our historically successful shuttle and International Space Station missions. Adding NASA into the new Moon project adds an immense and hungry public interest as well as shared funding and technology support. For Lockheed-Martin, as the prime, this is a significant boost to an already ambitious and inspiring plan. For NASA it is a new experience as second fiddle, but within a famous symphony orchestra with a  global performance ahead. Everybody can be winners. Everybody in this case are the key players, as well as a global population of space exploration enthusiasts.

“Make It So!” This classic order from the realm of the Star Trek series is most fitting for our joint venture recommendation. This phrase should become the motto for the launch of this joint space program. It should also be the shout that echoes throughout the halls of Congress and the White House. In making it so, our politicians stand to rise in eminence by boosting our economy, by boosting opportunities for the jobless and by projecting a glimmering view of humankind’s future in space exploration.

Dare we not “Make It So?”

CREDITS:

Broken puzzle image courtesy of  “smh” on Great House Fliggerty at:http://bit.ly/gdAQSs

Header image courtesy of Lockheed-Martin, and  POPSCI 

“PUSHING THE ENVELOPE”: Exploration’s Focus!

November 3, 2010

“Pushing the envelope” is not a new phrase to most of us. Upon hearing it, we usually immediately envision daring test pilots, like Chuck Yeager, or all the equally daring and courageous astronauts such as Alan Shepard or Eileen Collins. In reality that phrase pretty well describes the focus of all exploration activities. It is a vital focus that turns curious wanderings or speculations into positive breakthroughs and discoveries.

We selected the image on the left above as our view of what pushing the envelope looks like. It also directly appeals to our belief in the importance of humankind’s efforts to explore deep space; however, these are big, dramatic efforts, and the process or focus is at all levels of human inquisitiveness and endeavor. That is right, most likely every one of us has challenged the status quo, or the rules to advance. When we do it with a high element of personal risk we are truly at the edge of the envelope. Additionally, this focus does not advocate or include recklessness. It does include definite risk taking, and challenging known boundaries as we search the unknown, but it is done in a way that the risks are considered solid investments for the future of humankind. Here are some examples of what we mean:

  • Life Sciences: Certainly a clear example is the current research into the understanding and therapeutic use of human stem cells. The risk is an ethics issue that if left unresolved will ignore one of the greatest potentials to revive and support human health and homeostasis. Another current example is a breakthrough discovery by researchers of a way to strengthen a weakened or weakening heart muscle.
  • Astrobiology: Yes this is related to the Life Sciences group above, but represents a broader and deeper view into the existence of life within the universe. Recent research emphasizes the importance of energy in the beginnings of life here, and essentially throughout the universe.
  • Human Spaceflight: The risks and dangers are both obvious and serious, and we have already seen the benefits of this exploratory focus. A classic and important example is the ongoing International Space Station program that is providing important research in a variety of critical areas. Most importantly the research into what happens to humans as they spend extended periods of time in space where weightlessness and cosmic radiation exposures are critical issues.
  • Personal life challenges: We may not consider these critical, but the simple acts of personal weight control, stopping smoking, making a dramatic career change, stepping forward to speak out against illegal and/or inhuman actions are all examples of personal challenges we accept and carry out. Depending upon the individual, the elements of risk and hazard will vary, but the exploratory focus to find solutions for change is common. In most cases, acts of courage unique to the person are present.
  • All Science: Scientific research regularly pushes the envelope. Now not all scientists push, but within their respective disciplines there are many bold, courageous risk takers carrying forward the exploratory focus. The risks vary from total failure to unexpected and sometimes dangerous outcomes. (a) The physicist Marie Curie was at great personal risk of radiation poisoning. (b)Professor August Raspet of Mississippi State College gave his life to improve our understanding of boundary layer control and laminar air flow in aircraft design. (c) Antarctic Explorer Sir Robert Scott, shared vital data on this polar region and lost his life and that of his fellow explorers in the process. The list is endless and rich with major contributions to all areas of the sciences and, most importantly, to the well-being of humankind.

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” This quote by writer and social philosopher, Kurt Vonnegut, in our mind, clearly defines the exploratory focus. Our schools, our families, our corporations, and our very lifestyles should at least include acknowledgement of this focus, and ideally should make it a central functional theme. This, however, is not enough. Parents, schools, leaders must teach, encourage and support the exploratory urge. In the process we learn about risk, how to assess it, and when to accept it as a partner in our search for new discoveries, new explanations, and a growing body of science. This is how we as humans, have moved forward, and it is vital to us in our efforts to understand the origins of life here, and forever beyond.

Go now to the edge, take a long, deep look, and then “push the envelope.”

CREDITS:

The image of the Heliosphere is courtesy NASA/JPL/CalTech

EVA Image: Astronaut Mark Lee testing EVA safety and rescue systems. Courtesy NASA/JPL –  STS-64

BIRD BRAIN? Well, Thank You For The Compliment!

October 30, 2010

I see you, I hear you, I know you.

Brains, regardless of their hosts, are immense organs of great power and facilitation. The bird brain title for this blog acknowledges that relative power. If you have doubts, take some time and birdwatch. Watch small birds, big birds, seabirds, raptors and of course the great Bald Eagle. All are examples of the majesty of coordinated movement and navigation – while flying under their own power. Something not one of us can do; unassisted.

This blog article seeks to honor science’s explorations of the brain, especially the human brain. Most importantly, we need to understand we are still groping. Really? How so?

The work of neurologists, neuro-psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists and philosophers all contribute, on a constant and ongoing basis, to our knowledge about the brain. As we learn more we discover one revelation after another of the amazing uniqueness and power of the brain, regardless, as I have stated, of its host organism.

Like our exploration of the universe, the cosmos of the brain constantly teases us to look further and deeper. It can be coy, confrontational, demanding, illusive, and always in power. It rumbles with laughter as we, with our brains, seek to discern brains in general. Who is in charge here? Personally, I remember how I stunned a radtech after I had an MRI of my brain by stating: “Hmmm, here my brain is looking at images of itself. What can it be thinking?”

Brain Recovery: My own experience in working with clients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries confirmed, on a daily basis, the power of the brain to not only survive, but to restore itself into full power.  Yes, in some cases there were memory and motor deficits that needed therapeutic assistance, but in most cases the brain responded with vigor and renewal of lost functions. Two classic examples: (a) The brain injured young man in a deep coma who physicians were now advising family to consider pulling the plug and agreeing to organ donations. That same afternoon, the young man is found sitting upright in his hospital bed asking a nurse why he was here and what had happened. This was five months after his initial injury, and (b) The young man seriously brain injured in a motorcycle accident. Staff writes him off as a candidate for placement in a permanent custodial facility. He fights it, both unconsciously and consciously and begins to return to full function. A thorough screening including an IQ evaluation reveal he had a recovery IQ of 135. This young man is now a successful auto-electronics systems specialist.

Despite these natural and assisted recovery efforts, sometimes the damage is so extensive and so deep that even the die-hard brain gives up. Tragic and sad? Yes, but also a reality. The important thing is that the research (explorations) of brain function and recovery continues, and as mentioned above, provides bountiful insights and surprises. It is possible that in the future there will be fewer cases where the brain gives up. One of these future breakthroughs, in my opinion, is the research associated with stem cell therapy.

Brain Death: Brains never want to die, but deprived of their vital nutrients and oxygen filled blood they begin to collapse and slowly shut down their host’s life support systems. Regardless, in reality, I believe they are the last to go. When they shut down because their host’s life support systems (heart, lungs, kidneys, etc) have failed they are still the last to go, albeit quickly in most cases. Well, what about deep comas? The host’s systems still function with external help, but the brain seems essentially shut down. This is where, in my opinion, we will find Stem Cell therapy may come to the rescue.

We still do not know fully how the brain exercises its repair and recovery process, but research in this area that involves the use of Stem Cell therapy may open entirely new pathways for recovery. Exciting and rewarding research awaits us. Additionally, in a great many cases, persons who have suffered traumatic brain injury have also suffered spinal cord injuries which puts them in a very limited lifestyle. Again, application of Stem Cell therapy to address both the brain and the spinal cord damages could produce stunning recoveries.

The Exploration Theme: Stem Cell research in this case fully utilizes the exploration theme. Scientists are exploring how and why stem cells work, and in doing so they are and continue to make discoveries. They seek to explain these discoveries and in so doing they are and will continue to find applications that both repair and enrich human life. Right now, we are just on the first leg of our explorations, With a fully expanded research program the discoveries and results could easily become one of the most important and vital medical outcomes affecting all humankind. Dare we not venture forth?

For bird brains and human brains and all others, expanding our understanding of the immense complexity and power of the brain can only enrich all of us. Add to this an increased supplementary process to aid the brain in its resilience shines light into the darkest corners of its miraculous functions. Most importantly it will be the brain, not us, that finally puts to use our efforts to aid its glorious and amazing existence. So, there we are, our brains, aiding ours and other’s brains. Again, who is really in charge here?

REFERENCES:

Neural Stems Cells in the Adult Human Brain http://bit.ly/dtKV6g

Stromal Cell transplantation for traumatic brain injury repair. http://bit.ly/9fw9PX

Stem cell therapy in central nervous system injury. http://bit.ly/aqxsUr

CREDIT:

Image of Common Egret, from photo collection of Waddell Robey (c)1969, 2010 All Rights Reserved

Cartoon Image of the inquiring brain: From: http://bit.ly/WzA4H

EXPLORATION’S DNA: The Questing Thread

October 27, 2010

Nowhere in the annals of human history will you find that explorations were one-man acts. Yes, a single individual may ultimately get the major credit, but a total research into the events of an exploration will show a long human chain of both supportive and discouraging actions. People supply that support as well as discouragement and all contribute to the success or the failure of the exploratory event. We should never settle for a history or biography that does not show that thread of human involvement in a given epoch. As the title of this blog article announces, we believe this interaction comprises exploratory DNA.

As we all know, DNA is the thread of all life. It exists in unique form in every type of life in existence here and throughout the universe. Oh yes, there is life out there. Logic, the very orderly happenstance of how life began and developed here, and the fact that it just cannot be exclusive to just one planet in an entire universe establishes that fact. If the preceding were not true, most likely we humans would have never made it. And it is this latter acknowledgement that also applies to exploratory events. Without that unique supportive chain, most likely those historic events would have never transpired. So we perceive an exploration DNA that we term, the “questing thread.”

We are all a part of the questing thread, and it is also a part of us. In several earlier blog articles here, I have referred to the exploration ethic; an inborn drive to explore. It remains with us throughout our lives, but like some aspects of DNA, our lifestyle, our cultural and natural settings can impede some of its benefits; and so it goes with that urge to explore. Some of us respond in different ways to support and benefit from that questing drive. It is vital and a critical part of humankind’s evolution. Regardless, we have a duty to not let this inherent drive be diminished or fully stifled.

A current and classic example of Exploratory DNA is our space exploration program. The history is long, glorious and eloquent. On the surface there are a host of brave heroes as scientists, engineers, astronauts and, last but not least, all of those support personnel. They are the critical DNA elements who enable a gallant few to carry all of us many steps further into the future. They sustain and keep together the questing thread. This is not easy, and the thread is often exposed to attempts to sever it or to starve it out by diminishing political and fiscal support. This is what is happening to this program now. It poses a critical threat to all those elements, especially the support staff who are the ones that keep the entire program alive and healthy. It should be obvious that we cannot let the questing thread be severed or disassembled. Should this come about, then a major influence in human evolution will have been lost.

No, do not think you are not part of that thread. Unless you are running, blindfolded and backwards into a dark, dark past, you are a vital part of it. It is your interest, your personal support, your cheers and well wishes that boost the energy of the questing thread. Do not lose faith, do not turn away; instead reach out and enrich the DNA by pulling newcomers into the thread. Do it today, and do it especially on the first of November when once more the thread comes alive raising all our hopes and putting tremendous power back into our Exploration DNA.

CREDIT:

Image of natives guiding French explorers in Indiana. Courtesy Wikipedia> http://bit.ly/cRXR8o

The cartoon image of DNA is from: http://www.familyhistory101.com/dna.html

CONTACT Of The Real Kind

October 23, 2010

Oh boy this is another one of those mystery talks with an extra-terrestrial, right? No, this is about real contacts that occur every day, but most that we either overlook or ignore.

If we are alive and conscious, even in sleep, we are explorers in the sense that our brains and our sensory organs are always on some level of alertness. Also, like explorers, we can chose to follow-up on an event or chose to ignore it; even subconsciously. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • Good Mourning Dove: It is early morning, and in the Spring. You are sipping on your coffee and looking out your window. A Mourning Dove alights on the outside sill of your window and looks in. You are startled, but you look at the bird and for a brief instance there is direct eye contact between you and the Dove. It is not fleeting. You and the bird hold your gazes looking directly into each other’s eyes. In that brief time you sense a feeling of communion, just like you might feel as you look into the eyes of your child, spouse or loved one. Then the bird looks away, but remains for a while longer. It never looks back at you.  You experience a sense of a disconnect, of loss.
  • Squid Sessions: For a several years, you live on an island in the Caribbean Sea. You enjoy a daily, morning snorkel around a coral reef just off your beach. Each morning you are met by anywhere from 3 to 5 Caribbean Reef Squid. They form up side by side and move together toward you then stop. During this entire interval they have maintained direct eye contact with you. At the same time they manage, in some way to communicate quickly with each other to keep up their formation and unity. The first meeting was alarming, and you started to turn away, but when they stopped you stopped. The eye contact was sustained and direct. In this case it is you who finally moves on. This becomes a routine and every morning that you snorkel, the squid come out to meet you. There is never any aggressive behavior and the routine and the sustained eye contact always occur. Like the Dove experience you begin to sense a link, a communication between you and the squid. You always leave slowly and with some regret, but look forward to the next meeting.
  • Squirrely Days: Where you live now, there is a bounty of small wildlife, especially gray squirrels.  Now usually these creatures immediately run to the nearest tree or light pole and put it between them and you. One day, as this begins to happen you whistle a little chirping noise. The squirrel stops, turns and raises up onto it hind legs, and direct eye contact occurs. Like with the Dove, the contact is brief, but totally direct. That sense of a brief union, of communication occurs. The spell is broken as the squirrel turns and slowly heads for a tree or light pole.

Well, there are many, many other examples, and I am sure animal biologists and wildlife specialists will have a variety of scientific and behavior explanations.  I do not doubt them, but I think what is also occurring is a moment of direct communication of some sort during those direct eye contacts. There is no wariness in the behavior or eyes of the creature, and after I become adjusted to it, there is none from me either. In my mind there is something we are mutually sharing that allows those brief eye to eye exchanges. Yes, I have the same type of silent exchanges with my pets and even with the wild animals I helped raise. These latter instances are not surprising and can be expected, but the others, of the same nature, are both surprising and fascinating.

Most amazing, this is not an experience that could be explained by animals and humans in an urban environment. Certainly, the squid are not in an urban environment, and I have also been in deep wilderness areas and had similar direct eye to eye experiences with wildlife in those regions. Alligators, Cotton-Mouth Moccasins (no hiss, no bite), a variety of owls, and many others have joined me in these exchanges.

Is there some unique genetic link? I do not know. Is it because I do not behave like a predator? Maybe, but not likely. Is it because there is a link, genetic or otherwise that is an often neglected, overlooked or overridden? Perhaps, and if true, then the concept of a chain of life that threads its way through all life forms is plausible. Accepting this, following it, and practicing it could completely change humankind’s shared existence with all other life forms on this planet. It may also prove to be a vital theory to be applied across the universe as we explore and discover life in our galaxy and beyond.

On your next walk on the wild side, stop, look for that eye contact and remember it. In my opinion you have just shared something very unique, very private and very specific in that eye-to-eye moment between you and the creature you met. I think you have managed to cross an invisible bridge of communion with all life.

SAILING THE CELESTIAL SEA – A Reprise.

October 9, 2010

This is a reprise of and earlier editorial blog which seems very relevant to today’s times.

Yes, we have celebrated the four hundredth anniversary of the science of modern astronomy and the telescope, but we are also celebrating our bold steps across the threshold of the space sciences. We have stopped crawling and are now considering our next real steps into the space environment. We should reflect and rejoice.

As spectacular as our accomplishments have been they are furtive when compared to where we shall be going. Like youngsters taking their first steps, we need to be mindful of that parental warning: “Don’t Rush It.

What’s Ahead? In the “mid-distant” future, manned space exploration will be limited to this solar system.  Now, that is not a bad thing.  Not only are we going to find important answers to how life develops on planets, but we are also going to learn about the entire process of planet and solar system formation.  Yes, man will land on Mars, and probably one or more of the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.  We will also explore the asteroid belt and actually develop mining operations on some of them.  None of these activities are overnight events.  We are talking trilllions of dollars and millions of hours for the design and development of efficient and safe space exploration systems. All of this is incredibly healthy for we Earthlings both financially and intellectually.

Going Deep Into Space: Well, what about deep space?  Is the Kepler Mission a waste of time and money? The answer should be obvious, it certainly is not.  Our exploration of deep space is going to not just blossom it is going to explode when we finally find life bearing exoplanetary systems.  There will be that dreamed of and prized “first contact.” It will be entirely and uniquely robotic, and will remain that way for a long, long time. Don’t despair, the kind of contact I am talking about will represent almost unimaginable breakthroughs in robot design. It is time to use the science-fiction concept of cyborgs to understand this process.

A New Improved HAL: With apologies to that legion of science fiction writers, I predict we completely discard those ideas of a “pasted” together man and machine cyborg.  In reality we will develop totally safe and sane “Hal-like” robots that are directly, intimately linked to a specially selected and trained astronaut team. The team are astronauts because they are in space, but not deep space.  They reside in a satellite complex located in, for example, the L1 or L2 orbital points around the Sun. These astronauts are the command, control and communication unit for the robot team in deep space.  This is necessary to escape the communication and control barrier of the Earths atmosphere. It also allows the full usage of an expanded Deep Space Network (the key space communications network).

To listen to what the robot team in the image above are playing, you may click here.

How that program will work is the topic for another My Celestia article.  The image on the left above is simply an example of a real robot team that was developed by Toyota as a demonstration.  Are they playing music?  Yes they are.  Are they playing in a coordinated manner?  Yes they are.  So, in this respect it is a very limited example of the kind of robotics we will develop for our deep space visits.  We can venture this. The robot team will operate on the most advancedneural network artificial intelligence that, like HAL, is very human and beyond in its capabilities and response to the ET environment they are visiting.

The Bottom Line: There is always a bottom line and in this case to bring this multiple space exploration program into reality there needs to be some big, big changes.  First the NASA team needs to become a full-fledged NASA-Industrial Complex.  Don’t let that frighten you.  This coordinated activity is the only way we are going to really get out there properly, safely and soon. For this to happen, NASA needs to get its act together.  Please, they have done marvelous, amazing and courageous things in their history, but now they have stepped into a much bigger role that needs an entirely new program and fiscal management paradigm

The above is not going to be an easy process, and there are many out there who rather shoot NASA down than realize that NASA and its industrial/scientific partners are one of the key elements of both our growth and future stability.  Space is the next (not the last) frontier and we are a nation that has built itself on our exploring past frontiers.  It has worked well, and this time we stand to move humankind far more forward and beneficially than has ever been done before. Most importantly, the new partnership is an international one that is far more comprehensive than the ones NASA has now.  This extends the growth and stability factor around the world.  In short, it spells FUTURE.

Now, who among us wants to deny the future?  Come aboard and let’s go sailing. The universe awaits us.

IMAGE CREDITS:  Robots: Toyota Corporation and REUTERS May 4, 2008

Astrophoto: Waddell Robey/Slooh.com 2008