NASA Should Consult

by Handsome Matt

I received an email from my dad today with the note “[s]hows how little we know.”

The article (click here) from USA Today, deals with Voyager 2’s most recent transmission back to Earth. It’s roughly 8.3 Billion miles from Earth, and it’s still moving further into space, and transmitting data back to Earth. It’s astounding.

This is the most recent success for NASA that highlights something amazing: NASA’s projects seem to consistently perform above and beyond the expectations and timelines set forth by them.

Don’t get me wrong, when NASA has a failure, it’s a tremendous failure, but there successes are so overwhelmingly… successful.

The Mars Pathfinder Missions: Sojourner worked according to the NASA website “12 times” past its expected lifespan, and the Pathfinder module, worked 3 times past it’s lifespan.

Mars Rover Project: Both have worked for six years, despite the challenges of the harsh Martian landscape.

The Hubble Telescope: Hubble has recently seen a cluster of new, young galaxies. It’s also seen to the edge of the universe, discovered new stars, galaxies, and even more.

Deep Impact: NASA sent a probe into space with the goal of hitting and analyzing a comet. It needs to be noted that the comet was traveling at 23,000 mph, the comet was only 9 miles by 2 miles large. This is like hitting a fly with a push pin. Although Buffy the vampire slayer was able to do this, for the rest of the world, it’s fairly difficult.

Partner this with the success of the International Space Station, the shuttle missions, and other space missions, and the fact that NASA has one of the smallest budgets in our government, and NASA’s track record becomes nothing short of legendary.

The reason I’ve decided to write about NASA on a decidedly environmental blog, is to point out how well NASA tackles hard concepts. Forty years ago, man had never been in space, never been to the moon, had never seen any planet up close beyond Earth. And now, we’ve probed the edges of our solar system, seen the farthest reaches of our universe, and we’re learning more about our own planet’s history everyday.

We’re facing difficult tasks right now. Between where we are and where we need to be environmentally, there is a large gulf technologically. Yet prior to the Mercury and Apollo programs, the best theory on space travel involved a large gun, thanks to Jules Verne. And now we’ve got a permanent space station, satellites, the space shuttle, and more. Look at how far we’ve come in so short a time.

Beyond that, if we want to deliver solutions to the global community of nay-sayers and deniers, our solutions need to be so overwhelmingly high quality, that they consistently outperform and out pace expectations.

The question at NASA when faced with a difficult task is this:

What do we need to do?

For us, the passionate few not caught in politics, who feel that a clean economy and environmental sustainability is the right way for the world to go:

The question now is simply

what do we need to do?