“On that Pale Blue Dot….everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives…… Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand” – Carl Sagan.
From lunar orbit the problem we face is obvious. But through the power of science, we can change the odds. We can prevent asteroids like the ones that caused these craters on the Moon from hitting the Earth.
Think about that. We humans from the third planet from the Sun have have developed rocketry, optics, and computers, and have mastered orbital mechanics and classical physics. Lets use that knowledge to protect our Pale Blue Dot. Help us make our stand by supporting the Sentinel Mission.
Here is a talk I gave on what we at the B612 Foundation are doing: mapping our Solar System and helping to protect humanity on this planet. Asteroids have struck Earth many times in the past, and they will again, unless we do something about it. When I was a child, I loved reading science fiction stories. Now I get to take part in a project every bit as fantastic as anything I ever read about as a kid. Only this is for real!
I didn’t know Sally Ride well, but I did follow in her footsteps. Sally was a graduate student in astrophysics at Stanford when she was selected as an astronaut. I joined the same department about 6 years after she left, and remember seeing her picture on the wall among the astrophysics alumni. By then, she had already flown her first flight into space aboard the Space Shuttle. I first met her a few years later after she retired from NASA and came back as a visitor to Stanford, where she would occasionally attend our weekly astrophysics colloquium talks. She was very nice and took the time to answer my naive questions about NASA. It was many years later when I was a member of the astronaut corps myself that I next spoke to her. By then, she had started the Sally Ride Science, and was working to motivate kids to study science. I admired how she was turning her experiences as an astronaut towards inspiring our next generation of scientists. In the end perhaps that will be her most important legacy. RIP.
This video was recorded live at the B612 Foundation event at the CA Academy of Sciences on June 28 in San Francisco. Make sure you view this in a dark room on the largest screen you can find! Keep in mind that all these are real asteroids, and their orbits are depicted accurately. And also keep in mind that for every Near Earth Asteroid depicted, there are 100 more that have yet to be tracked. The solar system is a crowded place! If you support our work, please join us at the B612 Foundation website.
Businessweek just published an article on how a number of former NASA employees (including myself) have transitioned over to small startups. While my experiences at NASA were great, I find it really refreshing now to be able to make decisions and move at a pace that we could only have dreamed of when I was at NASA. While I still believe that NASA is extremely good at crisis decision making when lives are on the line, NASA is definitely not good at taking risks and moving quickly when the opposite is true (i.e. when the consequences of failure aren’t so extreme). Organizational culture does matter.
The Solar System is governed by the laws of orbital mechanics. We can bury our heads in the sand, and run away if we spot a small asteroid about to impact Earth, or we can do something about it. See our recent post at the B612 Foundation about finding and deflecting asteroids. It comes complete with a gratuitous Monty Python reference!