#1 - Posted: 11/08/2008 01:51
Original thinking here, I like. So far, all we know about physics is from scientific experiments conducted within the gravity well of Sol. Also, it may well be that Sol's heliosphere is shielding us from forces/energies that we haven't even dreamed of. Spending our limited, and diminishing, research budgets on baby steps like a moon base or looking for microbes on Mars are the types of "WOW" missions thought up by laymen, which are actually not very technologically challenging, thus will have few spinoff benefits and will eventually lead to calls of "folly". We now have a space station, so what? A moon base, so what?
We are a stubborn species. Once we believe something is possible and worth doing, it gets done. Unmanned missions which were designed to conduct experiments, position telescopes covering the spectrum, and return data from far outside our heliosphere would provide a host of problems to solve, true challenges, the solutions to which could possibly provide new technologies which would revitalize the world economy. There would almost certainly be payoffs just from the "doing" of it, even if we learned nothing new scientifically once the instruments were in place out there.
However, just possibly, we might find that we've been looking at the universe with blinders on.
As a plus, we'd have developed the ability to place instruments far enough away to actually use the gravitational lensing of Sol as (possibly) the largest telescope ever conceived. Possibly, I say. My point is that we need actual challenges if our space program is to eventually pay for itself. We went to the moon forty years ago, and NASA wants to use a lot of "proven Apollo technology" to do it again. Boring...a money pit...been-there-done-that...
NICE PLANET, SHAME IF ANYTHING HAPPENED TO IT...