It’s an amazing time to be a desktop space cowboy.
After keeping tabs on space exploration day in and day out for years, I packed it in for a while to concentrate on more Earth-bound things. And when I came back, I wondered if the wild black yonder was still there and still as wild as I remembered. I find out that, yeah, it’s all still there, and so much more. Spaceships blasting past comets, intrepid robots still ambling across Martian deserts, new missions planned for several worlds. More websites and more feeds and more videos and more of everything than ever before. And then there are old friends who warmly welcomed me back to the trail like I was never gone. Thank you.
I’m so pleased to be able to reboot (ha – get it?) the Riding with Robots web site. I hope you find it useful and interesting. My goal is simply to tell the stories of robotic space exploration. (See more.) Right now, most of what you’ll find here is still the old stuff from previous versions, but we’ll add more as we go. I’m starting with the site itself, but I’ll relaunch the widgets and podcasts and so on, too, if people are interested. As always, your comments and suggestions are very welcome.
Somebody asked me the other day why I’m so fascinated by all this. There are lots of things I could talk about. I should mention the people, the brilliant and driven people who spend years of their lives dreaming up and designing the missions, hoping the rocket doesn’t explode on the pad or the politicians don’t yank their funding. People who then spend countless, unsung hours teasing truth out of the numbers. Then there are those amazing machines, the space probes themselves. They’re ungainly in some ways, crude-looking even, yet so intricate and elegant in others. Like metallic dragonflies shimmering as they perch on a leaf—if those dragonflies could fly faster than a bullet and transmit terabytes of data millions of miles across space.
But in the end it’s simply about nature. Endlessly unfolding, ever-giving nature. For me, watching the latest pictures come down from Saturn is not much different than the rush I get climbing through a new slot canyon in the spectacular red rock deserts of Utah where I live. It’s about natural mystery and awesome challenge. It’s about the cold, stark beauty of the heavens, but also the warm, soft beauty of the Earth by contrast. It’s really no different than a enjoying a flower, or a sunrise—which, after all, is just a planet turning in space to face a star.
Should be a good ride. I’d love to hear what you think as we go. Keep your comments coming. Meantime, keep looking up!