Today is the birthday of my science boyfriend Carl Sagan. It’s hard to narrow down what I want to say about him, or pick a favorite quote, because how can you say that this:
There was a time when the stars seemed an impenetrable mystery, but today we have begun to understand them. In our personal lives, also, we journey from ignorance to knowledge. Our individual growth reflects the advancement of the species. The exploration of the cosmos is a voyage of self-discovery.
is more inspiring than this?
Even The Writer’s Almanac gave him a mention today:
Because he had done extensive research on nearby planets, NASA hired him as an advisor for a mission to send remote-controlled spacecrafts to Venus..In preparation for the mission, Sagan was shocked to learn that there would be no cameras on the robotic spacecrafts, called Mariner I and Mariner II. The other scientists thought cameras would be a waste of valuable space and equipment…Sagan couldn’t believe they would give up the chance to see an alien planet up close[…]
Sagan lost the argument that time, but he won over NASA eventually. The Mariners were the last exploratory spacecraft ever launched by NASA without cameras. He contributed to the Viking, Voyager, and Galileo planetary exploration missions, and his insistence on the use of cameras helped us get the first close-up photographs of the outer planets and their moons.
I think that this latest image from Curiosity–on THE SURFACE OF MARS, fer crissake–reflects his legacy.
Carl would have been utterly delighted by the imagery coming back from Curiosity, and by the huge number of people who got so very excited by its landing. Damn shame he didn’t live to see it, because he wasn’t all that old, really. Damn cancer.