Editor's note: Robert Zubrin, an astronautical engineer, is president of The Mars Society and author of “The Case for Mars: The Plan to Settle the Red Planet and Why We Must,” recently updated and republished by Simon & Schuster.
In the opinion piece “Mars can wait. Oceans can’t,” published recently on CNN.com, Amitai Etzioni says that we should defer Mars exploration because the seas have a higher priority. While I have the highest regard for ocean exploration, the fact of the matter is that there are numerous agencies – including the U.S. Navy, the navies of other countries, academic institutions, research organizations, corporations and James Cameron personally – that are more than adequately financed and equipped to carry it out.
The idea that we need to suspend space exploration in order to provide the necessary resources to probe the oceans is categorically absurd. So let’s call it like it is: The argument that we should explore the oceans instead of space is not a call to search the seas, but simply a disingenuous way to give up our effort to reach the Red Planet.
(CNN) - As an estimated one billion people around the globe take part in events to mark the 42nd Earth Day, Paolo Nespoli's images provide a striking reminder of our planet's awe-inspiring beauty and fragility as an eco-system.
During a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS) last year, the Italian astronaut snapped around 26,000 images, posting daily updates on Twitter.
"I really tried to capture what I was seeing. I was amazed by the response from people. It was very fulfilling for me. I was doing something which was very interesting for me, but it made me more happy that I could share the images," Nespoli said.
Nespoli explained to CNN what it's like to see the world "turning around your feet" and the unique perspective space travel provides on our planet and humans' collective impact on it.
Describe the view of Earth from space?
Paolo Nespoli: "It's a most unreal view you have from up there. It's look as though it's painted. One of the things you gain up there is an appreciation of planet Earth as a kind of ship. It looks like a ship flying in space.
"A lot of the time you're up there you are working so you don't have a lot of time to look out of the window. When you do, most of the time you see oceans and clouds - which is really nice.
"But it really takes a little bit of time before you acquire a perception of where you are and what you are looking at and how to look at it in the best way.
"After a month, a month and a half, something strange happens - you look out of the window and you know where you are. You might be over Australia, Africa, you just know. It's amazing how you just develop this."FULL STORY
"To celebrate its 22nd anniversary in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope released a dramatic new image of the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula because its glowing filaments resemble spider legs. A new image from all three of NASA's Great Observatories–Chandra, Hubble, and Spitzer–has also been created to mark the event.
The nebula is located in the neighboring galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, and is one of the largest star-forming regions located close to the Milky Way. At the center of 30 Doradus, thousands of massive stars are blowing off material and producing intense radiation along with powerful winds. The Chandra X-ray Observatory detects gas that has been heated to millions of degrees by these stellar winds and also by supernova explosions. These X-rays, colored blue in this composite image, come from shock fronts–similar to sonic booms–formed by this high-energy stellar activity.
The Hubble data in the composite image, colored green, reveals the light from these massive stars along with different stages of star birth, including embryonic stars a few thousand years old still wrapped in cocoons of dark gas. Infrared emission data from Spitzer, seen in red, shows cooler gas and dust that have giant bubbles carved into them. These bubbles are sculpted by the same searing radiation and strong winds that comes from the massive stars at the center of 30 Doradus."Source: NASA