I’ve wanted to earn a NASA mission patch since the Apollo years. (Yeah, I’m of that vintage.) While it’s not a single mission, and I’m not contributing directly to NASA science or engineering, I’ve been selected as one of their 2023 Solar System Ambassadors.
And look, you get a patch!
If you’re an educator who would like to tap into NASA resources to support your teaching, please contact me however you like, but here’s a convenient way: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/ambassadors/2513/ . I’m happy to work with you to create a presentation that meets your curriculum needs.
The same goes for people who handle programming for groups, large or small, who want to me to talk about missions to asteroids, telescopes looking out at the cosmos, or NASA’s planetary exploration…including how we explore our own, beautiful and (so far) unique Earth!
For fun, here’s part of what I said in my application:
I’ll start with two quotes from favorite books, one about Apollo and one about Mars, which capture some of why I think space exploration is important.
“Apollo may have been driven by the Cold War, but…in the end, it was theater—the most mind-blowing theater ever created. In fact, at around $120 per American over the nine years of the Sixties in which it ran, or $13 a year, it was astonishingly cheap theater.” from Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth by Andrew Smith
“Yes, the money could be better spent on Earth. But would it? Since when has money saved by government redlining been spent on education or cancer research? It is always squandered. Let’s squander some on Mars. Let’s go out and play.” from Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Space exploration is play. It’s also theater. Those are enough to get people interested, but there’s more to why space space exploration is important to me, and to everyone on this planet.
We live on a spaceship. It’s a big one, at least in individual human terms, so big we don’t understand how all its systems interact, or even what all the systems are! The good news about its complexity and size is that it’s a self-sufficient ship, if we take care of it. But the Pale Blue Dot and Earthrise photographs also show us another truth: our planet is big and robust, bat at the same time it’s also small and fragile. And it looks like we may be alone as we hurtle through space.
So in addition to the drama and fun of it, through space exploration we learn better ways to handle our spacecraft, we learn how other such spacecraft work, and we’ll find out if we’re truly unique.