Friday, April 08, 2005

The Tortoise and the Hare

EUThe hare always thinks, "I am fast so I will win" but we all know the ending of this tale of hubris! America was in a race for conquering space, a race that Russia won, time and again until we finally beat them to the moon. We then stood there, stupidly, wondering what to do next. The Russians just gave it all up and concentrated on invading Afghanistan. This proved to be their downfall.

Oh dear, no need to point out the obvious.

Europe has confirmed its intention to try again to land on the Red Planet, to search for past or present life forms.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is likely to send a roving robot to the surface of Mars, which will carry out a detailed analysis of the terrain and biology of the planet.

The mission is expected to blast off from Earth in June 2011 and arrive at its destination in June 2013.

Instead of invading Iraq and Afghanistan, building a huge military aparatus and occupying bases all over the place, Europe is quietly and relentlessly expanding their space program. Back when they began the Ariane rocket launching, there was condensending mirth here in America. Well, the last laugh isn't for us, not since the last Space Shuttle disaster. The Shuttle is about to lumber back into space again but what is its mission? As far as I can tell, it is going to float around pretty much aimlessly since we are supposedly losing interest in the last remaining mission, the international space station. We aren't using the shuttle to monitor the health and well being of planet earth. This has been pretty much ruthlessly eliminated as per the orders of the Texan whose ranch lay nearly directly under the path of the previous, doomed shuttle mission.

More from the BBC: The broad European goals for Solar System exploration are contained in the Aurora programme.

This had envisaged not only a roving mission to Mars in the near future, but a sample-return mission, too. Scientists want to bring rocks back from the Red Plant to study in labs on Earth.

Aurora also holds out the possibility that European astronauts might one day walk on the surface of Mars - but this would be many decades away, if it happens at all.

Slow and steady goes the tortoise. Bush called for us to rush off to Mars in less than twenty years. Meanwhile, to prepare for this race, NASA is killing off nearly all other projects, many of which we need if we intend to seriously explore our own neighborhood.

The hare is taking a long nap.

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