Despite being in a bit of a science funding slump in recent years, it seems sights are being set on some very bold horizons; manned missions to Mars, and now possibly a dive on Titan.
This is all fantastic, and will do much to spur the imaginations of future explorers, but (the big BUT) what does this say about our ambitions here at home?
I am continually perplexed that we have not yet focused ambitions in exploration here on Earth. The government is risk adverse, and the private sector does what they can, though naturally competition is fierce from a variety of perspectives, leaving much private exploration to grassroots practitioners who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and feet wet while spilling some serious green. These ventures are often viewed as ‘hobbyist’ and perhaps not perceived in the serious manner in which they should be. This all takes place while we struggle to find hundreds of thousands to low millions in support of ocean exploration activities that are truly necessary for our own survival.
At the same time, legislation is passed and checks are written for billions spent on space. Important? Absolutely. But what we really need is the best of both worlds – that is singular projects that are out there on the edge that inspire and foster curiosity, while at the same time investing in true capacity building here at home that keeps us out there ‘working’ routinely. There’s nothing worse than losing difficult to acquire skills, and that proficiency is very much needed to make the work out on the edge possible.
Seems logical to me that we should start to embrace an innerspace program as our at home analogue for our outerspace program. If, and when, we do humanity will be on the road to a new future that we’ve not yet even imagined.
In the meantime, I will start packing my bags for Titan. I’ll still have some good working years left in me, and from the perspective of a diver, there’s always more to be gained from being there than through the lens of a robot. Now there’s the journey of a lifetime…
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