Susan Weikel Morrison
November 19, 2012
We will expand in space as technology improves. Currently we are capable of putting research stations on the moon with rotating personnel, similar (but smaller) to what we have in Antarctica. We should do that. Even more important, we need to thoroughly explore Near Earth Asteroids to (1) figure out how we can deflect one if it endangered our planet and (2) begin to exploit them for resources. We also need to keep the ISS in orbit indefinitely, to encourage space tourism, and to continue robotic exploration of our solar system and space telescope imaging of our universe. Mars beckons, but at present we are technologically incapable of a sending humans there. We need a faster propulsion system. We need to develop landing and take off systems. We need to figure out how to feed humans and keep them healthy for the duration of the mission. Much as we dream of Mars, we don't know how to get to Mars and back alive yet. As I tell students in the classrooms I visit, "We adults don't know how to get to Mars. We're counting on you to invent new things to get us there."
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.