The year 2012 may not be the best year on record for the United States in general, but NASA is certainly on a role and it should be noted. For that matter, JAXA is doing pretty well and the Russian Soyuz program is back on track after many years of slump.
NASA is one organization that has not let up in its endeavors, and the incredible successes of the past twenty-odd missions makes me doubt that space pundits with have much clout in getting funding reduced, no matter how bad things get in other areas of economics.
NASA is on pins and needles today as the MSL, the Mars Science Laboratory mission is set to release its highly acclaimed lander, Curiosity within the next 16 hours of writing. The Martian landing of the most impressive, most expensive, largest and most technologically sophisticated robotic rover ever conceived is about to take place and a great many people, myself included, have the highest expectations. The fact is simple: the resounding successes of NASA’s previous missions has led to this monumental challenge. In turn, the success of MSL and Curiosity is the precursor to eventual human exploration of Mars. Its success is not guaranteed, but obviously required as a key step.
Other successful missions of note are Cassini-Huygens which has been orbiting Saturn for eight years and has had a successful landing on the giant moon Titan, Juno, which is in its ninth month on the way to exploring Jupiter and its Gallilean satellites, New Horizons, well into its fifth year on road to Pluto, Messenger which just completed its 1000th orbit of Mercury last June and provides more info about our innermost planet than ever before, and the LRO, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which has empirically identified all of the Apollo landing sites.
Martin Werner Zander
Owner Smith’s School in Kotoen