Have been working on a wide variety of projects over the summer (the history of DEFCON alerts, a kids' book, and an article on helicopters for a luxury magazine called The Private Journey) but now it's time to catch up on the blog.
Some buzz in the last week
in reviews about Europa
Report, about the movie rising to an accurate
depiction of space exploration.
Hmm - certainly compared to Armageddon,
which was lucky to get even a 39% rating in Rotten
Once the premise is accepted -- that a
company would send people out to look for life by landing on the surface of
the Jovian moon Europa -- the procedures are fine enough. But the
plot line isn't accurate in the sense that any such human-led plan will be
organized and carried out, now that robots and remote sensing are so capable and offer so much value. The
JPL advisers were polite about this, referring in interviews to the
importance of robots in planetary exploration.
in Air&Space about
"Humans or robots -- who's driving the spacecraft?" I asked
former astronaut Story Musgrave his thoughts on the issue. He sees it
as a partnership, but with robots touching down first.
"There's a robotics program and a human
program, and we've kept them separate," he said. "True
exploration of space is not happening. We need to integrate humans
with robots." He illustrated with a Mars scenario. "The way
to do this is to sent robots first – design and operate so that they lead the way for humans. As opposed to just doing the robot thing."