Thursday, December 4, 2008

Future Missions to Mars

Mars was a habitable world
at some point in its history.
We don't know exactly when,
and we don't know precisely where.

Future missions will have
to figure that out.

~Jim Bell, Cornell University

Of Note: No, this is not a shot of Mars. Marie captured this photo of the moon in an apparent triangle with Jupiter and Venus earlier this week. She said that this alignment would not recur until 2050. You can't miss this showy threesome in the night sky. A red Mars made a similar trek across our skies a few years back, and I remember thinking that all the people had gone a little nutty at the time with fighting and other less than exemplary behavior. Could it be that the planets and constellations have an effect on us as explained by the science of astrology? Given the persistence of the interest in horoscopes, it would appear that there is a there there--somewhere. We can only stay tuned because currently consideration of astrology only brings raised eyebrows from those who regard themselves as serious scientists. Could be, however, that the current astrologers have only scratched the surface of this ancient knowledge base and that scientists may be in for a surprise once they turn to investigate.

Today's Weather Report: It was snowing to beat the band this morning when I awoke. Little flakes with quite a wind according to my husband who runs every morning in whatever weather presents itself....including below zero. I always thought it was only fanatics who would run at 30 below, but he's actually done that a time or two. (I'm sure he'd correct me and say "The word is eccentric, not fanatic.") All dressed up in boots and pants and a jacket can't make running at those temps very fun, but the endorphin high must be worth the extra effort.

Watch For Change Snippet: Mr. Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has had a flash of insight as he prepares to leave office. He said that he'd been a little busy since taking office in 2005 with some huge endeavors such as integrating 22 agencies and 200,000 employees into a cohesive unit. Crackdown on illegal immigration and airport security were other overriding issues. However, Mr. Chertoff explained that he has just gotten the chance to actually think about "big picture challenges." He now believes that "a lasting victory in the safeguarding of the country can be achieved only by marrying traditional security with winning a contest of ideas, and a battle for the allegiance of men and women around the world" through education, scholarships and other outreach efforts. This is called "soft power" and will be a key approach of the new administration. Maybe the soon-to-be former Secretary is looking for a job.

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