August 6, 2012
This morning it’s sort of a leftover sky, left over clouds that seem to have spread thinly over the blue, fading it out and looking sort of like a raft of white gauze curtains blowing over the blue. The sun is peeking through in several slots, making bright stripes on the grass, among all the shadows. My heron statue just happens to be in one of the bright spots, making the stone look warm and nearly alive. There is a stillness that seems to be waiting for wind to ruffle through on the way to deeper clouds.
Today the news said the new Mars rover, Curiosity, landed on the red planet without mishap. Hooray for NASA! A marvel of engineering and audacity, this rover will surely find out new things about our nearest neighbor. All the explosive steps, and there were a bunch of them, went off right on sequence, and Curiosity began its mission with the message … I landed! I loved seeing the picture of all the people hugging in the control room! Hugs are truly appropriate for such an accomplishment … need for the celebration of human touch! I wish Curiosity a long and useful life on the planet Mars, sending us data and pictures of a place that might at some time in the future be marked by the footsteps of human beings along side the treads of robot explorers.
from … My God, It’s Full of Stars
When my father worked on the Hubble Telescope, he said
They operated like surgeons: scrubbed and sheathed
In papery green, the room a clean cold, a bright white.
He’d read Larry Niven at home, and drink scotch on the rocks,
His eyes exhausted and pink. These were the Reagan years,
When we lived with our finger on The Button and struggled
To view our enemies as children. My father spent whole seasons
Bowing before the oracle-eye, hungry for what it would find.
His face lit-up whenever anyone asked, and his arms would rise
As if he were weightless, perfectly at ease in the never-ending
Night of space. On the ground, we tied postcards to balloons
For peace. Prince Charles married Lady Di. Rock Hudson died.
We learned new words for things. The decade changed.
The first few pictures came back blurred, and I felt ashamed
For all the cheerful engineers, my father and his tribe. The second time,
The optics jibed. We saw to the edge of all there is—
So brutal and alive it seemed to comprehend us back.
Tracy K. Smith
This poem celebrates another stellar accomplishment, the Hubble that takes such stunning pictures capable of showing up so much more of the universe than we ever knew before. I hope Curiosity fires our imagination the way Hubble’s images have, that we get more and more human from knowing more about what is out beyond or own small world. Hooray for the success of Curiosity both the ship and the quality! Hooray for all the scientists and engineers that extend our reach and open our eyes to sights we have never seen before! Hooray for the continuing of exploration, expanding our horizons, fueling our dreams!
Having trouble with formatting … hope to have it worked out soon.