February 17, 2017
I grew up on a farm in Missouri. Back then, you could still see the beautiful belt of the Milky Way on a clear night. I remember lying in the grass, staring at the sky next to my dad. He would point up to the stars and show me the constellations. I was mesmerized, in awe. Knowing there was an untouched universe out there, so far beyond our atmosphere, always pulled me in its direction. I haven’t, since, stopped looking up.
As I grew older l began to follow NASA’s programs more closely. I dream of being an astronaut, living on Mars some day. The concept of starting a new community on another planet begs the question, “If we could start fresh, what we change?” The fact that we might find life on another planet, means an incredible shift in perspective on Earth. Understanding our place in space is one of the most important things we can do.
I’m in love with the psychological phenomenon, deemed the Overview Effect, that astronauts experience as they lift off into space for the first time. They watch as borders disappear, then eventually see our home as one, fragile, living organism for which all of us connect to be a part of. Like the cells in our own bodies, or the particles that make up an atom. We occupy this tiny corner of the Universe. All in it together, regardless of our walks of life. We have the seemingly unique gift of intelligence. And, in the words of the late Carl Sagan, “We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself”. Explore the Cosmos, we must.
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.