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Apollo 14


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I just got round to watchng the SaN coverdisc from January, and it has an old documentary from 1971 about the Apollo 14 mission with Alan Sheppard.

When it comes to sending people to Mars, I'd rather see robots go: it is just too dangerous and there are no solutions currently to issues like the long periods of weightlessness and radiation exposure.

But the documentary really drove home how much science work was done by the astronauts (selenauts?). Taking core samples, collecting large substantial rocks, constructing and setting up experiments on the Moon surface... I have to admit only a human could do all that.

It such a shame that the USA and Europe have no plans to send humans there now. At least the Chinese are headed to the moon.

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You have to remember that you probably have more computing power in your wristwatch than they had in the Apollo missions. Technology is so much more advanced and improving at a faster pace then ever before, so if they want to drive over to Mars, they've got more techy stuff behind them

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Why do people go on holiday, when they could sit in their front room and look at pictures beamed from a webcam of their destination?

Why do people still climb Mt. Everest, even though it's been climbed before and hundreds have died repeating the same climb?

Why do people learn to play instruments, when there are virtuosos who can do it a million times better. Wouldn't the amateur be better off listening to a CD?

Why do people paint, when their daubings will never match a Monet, a Picasso or a Dali?

Robot exploration is OK, it's cheaper, safer, and less complicated. But humans have always wanted to explore. I guess that's why some people throw a bag on their backs and go off into the unknown, whilst most of us sit in our front rooms and dull our minds with Coronation Street, Eastenders etc.

As Dave Scott said "As I stand out here in the wonders of the unknown at Hadley, I sort of realize there’s a fundamental truth to our nature: man must explore. And this is exploration at its greatest."

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When I look up at the sky it is because it is as close as I can get to going there. Hubble will always produce better images than anything I will ever see through any telescope I may ever own or look through - but it is not the same as seeing these things through my own eyes.

The day that we lose the desire to explore is the day that our species begins to stagnate. By nature we are curious. By nature we are explorers. Whether that is sea or space, many of us will never be satisfied just by sending robots.

It would be easy for me to post my camera abroad and have someone take photos and post it back to me. Personally I'd rather go to the place and take them myself!

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