Exciting new images of Pluto from the New Horizons platform now so far from Earth have me thinking about the state of space exploration.
While the number of nations capable of boosting men and equipment into orbit and beyond remains small, there is no shortage of nations, corporations, and even individuals invested in the next stage of space exploration.
Hubble, Chandra, Kepler, and other imaging platforms in space and on the ground continue to reveal the marvels of our universe. With the arrival of New Horizons to Pluto we have now sent probes to every historically major body in our solar system. Missions like the Dawn probe to Ceres and the Deep Impact meet up with Tempel 1 have only expanded on what we know and can do.
Then there’s the wonder of having watched Voyager 1 pass beyond the heliosphere of our sun into galactic space.
Even more exciting is the new level of talk around manned missions. To Mars. Back to the moon. Even to near Earth asteroids.
I wrote a previous post over the question of how much all this costs: Billions To NASA When So Many People Are Starving? You can see how I feel about that question by following the link.
One thing I do know is how much of this need to reach out and explore is inherent in being human. For the most part, the easy stuff of mapping the surface of our own world has been done. That leaves us with the oceans about which we still know so little, and space, where we have only just begun to reach out a tentative hand.