"We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind." These were the last words Eugene Cernan said upon leaving the surface of our moon, at the end of Apollo 17.
Cernan (shown below at the beginning of EVA 3) was the last man to walk on the moon. He died Monday, Jan. 16, surrounded by his family.
Whenever a new presidential administration takes office, there’s a surge of gossip in the space exploration community about what the new president’s ambitions will mean for NASA. More funding to study climate change? Additional robotic exploration of the solar system? Renewed interest in manned spaceflight? A manned trip to Mars? A return trip to the Moon?
Many people speculate that there’s even a “red/blue” dynamic to space exploration — that Republicans tend to like the idea of returning mankind to the Moon, while Democrats prefer pushing on to an asteroid, or perhaps even Mars. Much of this is really a false dichotomy, based almost entirely on very recent history. In 2004 President George W. Bush announced that the United States would retire the space shuttle program in favor of building Apollo-style capsules and launch vehicles that would return human beings to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972, with the idea of setting up a permanent manned colony. President Barack Obama, shortly after taking office, scrapped Bush’s plan to return the Moon in favor of going first to an asteroid and eventually Mars in the 2030s, using the same Apollo-inspired spacecraft.
Space exploration, particularly of the manned variety, has never really been a red/blue thing. It has always been more a mingling of genuine scientific inquiry, national pride and a desire to maintain American dominance in advanced technology and scientific research.
NASA was founded in 1958 under a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the goal of overtaking the Soviets in space technology and establishing a human presence on the Moon. Read the rest
Hey Jupiter, I hope you're ready for your close-up.
Recently, I was granted the rare privilege of stepping inside one of the largest cleanrooms at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories. I was there to learn about this year's blockbuster space mission, Juno, and chat with some super smart science and engineering people who worked on the project.
A European-Russian spacecraft headed out from our humble little planet to space today, in search for life on Mars.
Geoff Marcy, a famous and respected American astronomer, has announced his intention to step down as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Marcy also works with NASA on the search for extraterrestrial life, via the NASA Kepler Mission.
Buzzfeed first broke today's news of Marcy's plans to step aside. It is the first real fallout he's facing from sexual harassment claims that the reported victims say were ignored for years.
Why would those claims be ignored by UC Berkeley? Because Marcy is kind of a big deal in the field of astronomy, and his name meant money for the struggling California academic institution. Read the rest
If you're on the East Coast, keep your eyes on the skies this evening--you might see something rare up there.