A Journey Too Far

What happens when the act of observing changes the very nature of what is being observed?  What happens when Science transcends the boundaries of Politics?  What happens when Man decides to play God? 

These questions troubled me as I flicked through some less-frequented pages in the local daily.  So I decided to Google it, to find out more.  Turns out, it was all true !!!

NASA did intend to crash a probe into the Moon in its quest to hunt for water.  And, Denmark was really planning to assert claim on the Arctic!

Space.com:
NASA Adds Moon Crashing Probes to LRO Mission

NASA’s next mission to Moon will not merely orbit the gray satellite, but crash two vehicles into its South Pole to hunt for water ice, the space agency said Monday.

Set to launch with LRO in October 2008, the $73 million Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) is a bare-bones spacecraft designed to use cameras and spectrometers to watch its 4,409-pound (2,000-kilogram) upper stage slam into hydrogen-rich Shackleton Crater, mission managers said.  The 1,940-pound (880-kilogram) LCROSS probe will fly through the resulting plume and use its instruments to scan for water while taking photographs, then – 15 minutes after the upper stage booster’s impact – the “shepherding” satellite will also crash into the crater floor, Andrews said.

… LCROSS mission managers expect their crash-destined duo to carve a Moon crater 16 feet (4.8 meters) deep, about 100 feet (30 meters) wide and toss up about 2.2-million pounds (1,000 metric tons) of lunar material.

CapeTimes:
Danish Arctic bid to dispute Russian claim

A Danish expedition to the Arctic will map the sea depths north of Greenland which could allow Denmark to assert claims on the North Pole that the Russians have been keen to grasp, Denmark said yesterday.  This may enable Denmark to prove that the Lomonossov Ridge, an underwater mountain chain that extends from Greenland to Siberia, is an extension of Greenland and lay claim to its rights in a region believed to contain important hydrocarbon mineral deposits.

The US Geological Survey says the Arctic holds a quarter of the planet’s yet untapped oil and gas reserves…

Needless to say, I am disappointed.  Not that my being disappointed will change the course of either of these two events.  But, I am disappointed.

Like many young boys, my adoloscent dreams involved adventure and excitement… I wanted to grow up to be Indiana Jones… go to the Antarctica on a National Geographic expedition… join NASA as an astro physicist!  Now, I was having second thoughts.

If I were working for NASA today, would I condone this “experiment”?  Certainly not.  What right do we have to alter the geography of something so cosmic in nature as the Moon?  And, even if some of us feel like debating it a bit, who gave the United States and NASA the right to decide on behalf of the entire planet

“Crashing a probe” doesn’t even sound remotely like it imbibes the values that science has cherished for centuries.  And, if this is allowed, what stops Russia, or even India, from causing a nuclear explosion on Saturn, just to see the effects it causes?!

And then,  there’s the issue of the Arctic.  Agreed, there is some serious money to be made from all the oil under the ice sheets.  But, the North Pole and the South Pole are the last possible places left on Earth, not yet spoilt by man!  What will come next?  Billboards of Shell en route the Arctic?!

I believe it was Einstein who once remarked that “God does not play dice with the Universe”.  Evidently, Man has a mind of his own.

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2 Comments

  1. You have touched on a note here that essentially opens a pandora’s box in the realm of science and academia. The inevitable, and often uncomfortable, question of ethics. What I cannot help thinking is, what was the thought process afterwards that ensued after your disappointment with the world as we know it today. I think the post-realization reaction poses a larger question than the former reaction. The adaptations and choices made thereafter is then, I believe, what drives modern society forward. Comments?

  2. * Editor’s Reply *Thanks for your comment, Kunal. I couldn’t agree more. What follows after that disappointment and anger is what drives modern society forward.This site has been built on the foundation of Martin Luther King’s words of wisdom: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. I have chosen to not remain silent about this matter. I have opted to blog about it – in the hope that it will be read (and reacted to) by the people who read my blog… people like yourself. Every such person that feels as strongly about it as I do, will hopefully be more informed as a result of this post. In the same way, my filter will also be on henceforth, on related developments. Slowly, but steadily, the world will change… That’s the plan, anyway.

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