Two rockets have been sent up recently by NASA.
- The first, a mission to monitor and greater understand how CO2 affects climate, failed.
- The second, a mission to search for new Earth-like worlds got up okay, will soon start searching.
I’m all for expanding human knowledge and can understand the reasons for the missions. In fact, I’m all for them! However, I’ve serious doubts about the mindsets of the humans that placed a satellite that really can provide the most benefit to mankind on a cronky test rocket with a 85% success rate, whereas the real ‘pie-in-the-sky’ satellite gets a rocket with a 99.5% success rate to plonk it in space!
The carbon dioxide mission was to really get a handle on our human activities vis-a-vis global warming and the anthropomorphic changes. Greater knowledge would provide fuel for real social changes driven by an informed political will. Not now though! We are still exactly where we were 7 years ago when the mission was first planned! On the knife edge our climate now sits on, this is seven years we can ill afford and really need.
The worlds mission is to look for Earth-like worlds for which we have no possible current means of reaching, probably ever. In other words, we deduced that some stars had worlds, then we deduced that most stars have worlds, then we saw some big gas ones, and now we have to prove little ones exist by seeing them! Really, all it needs is simple logic. They do exist because we exist on a world, part of a system that orbits a sun. The fact that we can’t say for 100% certainty that every star has little worlds is irrelevant as we can’t go anyway! So what’s the big deal?
Saying all that, I’m confident that the Keplar telescope will open up new vistas to new highways of knowledge, so not all is bad. But the immediate gains from putting the OCO mission on a proper rocket would have been immense.
Don’t forget, we are humans and live our lives on the arrow of time, day by day. Each day we all must breathe, eat and drink, living on dry land in relative comfort protected from the elements. Our world provides all of this because we’ve evolved into it over eons of time. We can’t change our bodies fast. We are stuck with them.
- If we stop breathing for a few short minutes, we die.
- If we stop drinking for a few days, we die.
- If we stop eating for a few weeks, we die.
So the incredible incongruity of belief that somehow we can find another world to go to and fuck that place up as well when our own Earth is knackered, is staggering. Currently, and most probably for ever, we do not have a get out of climate jail free card! A much better plan is to look after what we have and part of this care would have been encapsulated in the OCO mission. It’s not a valid plan to behave like the first white men in America, continuing a process of discovery and exploitation. It is a valid plan to nurture what we have, because in exploration terms, we’ve reached the metaphorical edge of the universe. The immense interstellar distances make this so. Just because we can see further dosen’t mean we can ever, ever touch it. There are no limits to our imagination, but yes, there are real physical limits to what we can do.