Scientific leadership in our own backyard

Published 7:00 am Friday, October 9, 2015

NASA’s been in the news these past couple of weeks because of their Sept. 28 announcement of the discovery of liquid water on Mars’ surface. This announcement, coupled with the coincidental release of the movie “The Martian” has helped spur talk of a manned mission to the Red Planet to living rooms and break rooms across America and, likely, beyond even our borders.
Whether you love the idea of a manned mission or hate it or whether you don’t care one whit about it, it is hard to deny awesomeness of the undertaking in terms of science and technology. That the U.S. leads the world in space exploration—that we have definitively won the space race—is something most of us will take pride in.
Much of that pride should rightly be directed at our federal space program, NASA. Without their scientific leadership, it is hard to imagine a world wherein we would sit almost ready to implement a manned mission to Mars.
Yet, as you can read in today’s front-page story, the legacy of NASA is more than a distant abstraction. Yes, NASA represents Space exploration and scientific advancement, but the federal program also eliminated communities right down the road from us and transformed families.
The ethics involved in the land acquisition are not ours to debate. That issue was settled long ago and what we are left with are the present facts. And the fact is, whenever we go to Mars—and we will—we, in south Mississippi, will be able to feel just a little more pride in that accomplishment than the average American. Yes, the rockets were designed and tested here. But even beyond that, hundreds of people, hundreds of our neighbors, gave up their homes, their land and their way of life so that all of humanity could reach out and touch the stars.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox