Broken Planet

March 15, 2013

A friend points here and comments:
“We have found a habitable environment that is so benign and supportive of life that probably if this water was around and you had been on the planet, you would have been able to drink it.”
JOHN P. GROTZINGER, a California Institute of Technology geology professor, on findings from the Mars rover about the planet’s distant past.

Good thing it’s not possible to break a planet.

7 Responses to “Broken Planet”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    Pictures from the Moon, pictures from Mars, picture even from beyond the stars, still no cure for cancer here on earth, Priorities NASA? Who pays your way?

    • pendantry Says:

      Part of the ‘cure’ for cancer would involve stopping the wholesale chucking of carcinogenic pollutants into the air we breathe. Prevention’s better, so I understand.

    • astrostevo Says:

      Er, Bruce Miller, cancer = medical field, biology. It does NOT equal atmospheric and space exploration and research.

      There’s kinda a hint in the name /acronymn as to what NASA’s jurisdiction and priorities are and it isn’t curing cancer.

      Not that humans shouldn’t also be trying to work on curing cancer – plenty of doctors and medical researchers and other relevant scientists are working on that too.

      But why would you want a rocket scientist to do brain surgery or cancer research when that’s not what they’ve studied or know anything about or wish to do? Why single out NASA for not curing cancer when sports stars, artists, politicians, soldiers, bloggers, me and I suspect even you aren’t currently looking for cures for cancer either?

      (That said, apparently working on detectors for the Hubble led indirectly to development of MRIs or so I vaguely recall reading and so spin-offs can happen even from unlikely places!)

      It isn’t zero-sum, we can search for and hopefully find cures for cancer whilst also sending spacecraft to the stars and planets and doing everything else humans like to do as well.

  2. mhr900 Says:

    I found it interesting that the link above to fox had this in the article.
    Scientists typically are careful people loath to go out on a limb about their findings (with good reason, as their colleagues will quickly snap that limb in two if it’s not sturdy enough).
    MMM maybe fox should apply that to climate scientists, yeah right.
    Also Martin the budget allocation to NASA is 0.5% of the total USA budget.
    NASA is actually one of the institutions that gives me hope that mankind will progress forward.

    • astrostevo Says:

      mhr900 : Absolutely. Seconded by me.

      NASA, to me, represents the very best of the USA (plus Humanity in general) and what it (& we) can achieve for good and for the benefit of everyone from the Apollo landings “coming in peace for all mankind” to the cosmic wonders revealed by Hubble and a lot of other space observatories and sending out the Voyagers and other decade long missions to the worlds far beyond to learn and strive for understanding and the boldness of the Curiosity landing and so much more. I love NASA and what they do. If only they had a bigger budget, more positive focus and were able to do still more.

  3. astrostevo Says:

    Venus was habitable early in the history of our solar system once too. That it was a runaway greenhouse effect that boiled the Cytherean oceans away and turned Venus into a pressure cooker left too long, too hot until it became what I like to think of as Svante’s* inferno makes that an even more apt broken planet example.

    But not, of course, as current so, yeah, Mars is good & that quote is a great case study too.

    One thing astronomy helps us with is perspective and seeing what happened on other worlds – including our nearest neighbours – gives us good cause to appreciate how lucky we’ve really been and are and there’s still a good case for the “Rare Earth” hypothesis suggesting that planets like ours and life like ours could be exceedingly uncommon.

    Rare Earths are precious – so lets take very good care of ours shall we please?


    * After Svante Arrhenius who first understood and discussed the “greenhouse effect.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      James Hansen, of course, started out studying Venus. Then he realized that more interesting changes were happening here on earth.

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