Photos: Mars rover Curiosity
November 20th, 2012
04:55 PM ET

Overheard: Time to send an astronaut to Mars?

By Claire Colbert, CNN

Our readers were certainly intrigued by initial measurements from the Mars rover Curiosity recently, which indicated that radiation levels on Mars are not lethal to humans. More research needs to be done to determine exactly how much radiation exposure a visit to Mars would entail, however.

Curiosity has been on Mars since August 6. For several weeks it had been parked at a place called Rocknest, but on November 16 the rover started driving again, NASA said. Currently it's on its way to a location called Point Lake.

As we continue to chart its activities here at CNN Light Years, it seems that every new discovery that the rover makes rekindles the debate about the importance, or lack thereof, of NASA.

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Overheard: What are those shiny objects on Mars?
October 23rd, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Overheard: What are those shiny objects on Mars?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Last week, NASA scientists announced that the Mars rover Curiosity had found something unexpected: small bright objects. These one-millimeter flecks didn't appear to originate from the rover, but rather from Mars itself. They could be part of the soil forming process, or they could be minerals cut in particular ways that make them look shiny in sunlight.

More than 550 people commented on this story. Most people had fun guessing what the shiny objects might be.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars • Overheard on CNN.com • Voices
Overheard: Tax dollars in space - worth it?
Should we pay to explore other planets? Readers have mixed views.
October 22nd, 2012
11:27 AM ET

Overheard: Tax dollars in space - worth it?

Comments on CNN Light Years consistently flood in about how the money spent on the space program isn't worth it. We often see the word "waste" in connection to the tax dollars that go toward exploring the rest of the universe beyond our planet.

So, we ran a story this weekend about what innovations space exploration has delivered. Examples included digital image processing used in medical scanning, GPS and state-of-the-art tires.

As expected, readers expressed a variety of opinions upon reading this story. Some were sympathetic with the viewpoint of the middle-class mother interviewed for the article, who cringes when she thinks about tax dollars going to NASA, and wishes she had more funding for her daughter's college tuition.

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Overheard on CNN.com: Mars rover naming schemes, not-so-tropical space vacations
NASA's Curiosity is set to touch down on Mars in August. The rover is bound for Gale Crater.
June 15th, 2012
07:55 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Mars rover naming schemes, not-so-tropical space vacations

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Looking back over the past week, we've seen some interesting comments about what it would be like to go to other planets and moons. We decided to feature a few of these posts from readers to close out the week.

Rover bound for intriguing crater on Mars

Curiosity, NASA's most advanced rover, is going to search Gale Crater for evidence of life as we know it on Mars. Scientists say they have pinpointed the landing site with greater accuracy than in the past, resulting in a shorter transit to the crater itself. This mission got one reader wondering what it would be like to view Earth from afar.

helenecha: "It must be pretty much interesting to see Earth on Mars. So landing Curiosity to a site on Mars where the rover can see our Earth from Mars whatever makes sense, uh? Good luck to Curiosity! Godspeed to every member of all NASA's rover missions!"

Curiosity follows in the footsteps (or tracks) of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. All got their names from children's essay contests. Some of our readers conceded they would have used different names if it were up to them.

MrId: "They should be something like 'Conquer,' 'Robotic Death,' or 'Bigfoot.' "

Raymond: "I would have named them all Rover I, Rover II, Rover III, etc., etc. Hey, we keep track of the Super Bowl with Roman Numerals. Why not keep track of these?"

Cedar Rapids: "... the Mars rover, 'Megatron', today arrived at the crater ..."

You may recall that "Spirit" and "Opportunity" were dreamed up by 9-year-old essay writer Sofi Collis of Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2003. Collis was born in Siberia and at one point lived in an orphanage. The rover name Curiosity was the brainchild of Clara Ma of Lenexa, Kansas, in 2009.

If you could name a rover whatever you wanted, what would you call it? Conversely, what would come next in the current series? Please tell us in the comments section.

Some readers have wondered if Mars is the right place to be exploring. Europa, one of Jupiter's moons, was mentioned as a possible place. FULL POST


Filed under: Overheard on CNN.com
Overheard on CNN.com: New shuttle needs space plane 'coolness'
Designed by UK-based engineers Reaction Engines Ltd, the Skylon project is a radical idea for future space travel.
June 8th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: New shuttle needs space plane 'coolness'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN commenters - clearly energized about the promise of a new, privately developed space shuttle - are buzzing about winged spacecraft versus capsule-based vehicles like Dragon, which SpaceX used for its historic visit to the space station last month.

A commenter called "gregory" points out the Skylon space plane project in the UK. The theory behind space planes is they would be able to take off from a runway, rocket into low orbit, and then fly to a landing on a runway.

Gregory suggests that space planes are preferable because their engines would be designed to "breathe air like a jet at lower speeds" and then "switch to rocket mode in the high atmosphere." CNN reported on Skylon last year and one insider estimated development cost to be around $10 billion. NASA's program to fund private spacecraft development offers only a fraction of that amount - less than $400 million awarded so far.

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December 5th, 2011
05:57 PM ET

Your thoughts: Search for life on other planets

Editor's note: This post is affiliated with the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Life, as we know it, needs certain conditions to exist. Readers yesterday had some strong opinions about searching for that life elsewhere, after NASA made an announcement about a new planet outside our solar system:

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Filed under: Kepler • News • Overheard on CNN.com

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