I’ve said it time after time that I’m not the brightest light bulb in the house nor the sharpest tack in the drawer, and have yet to receive an argument to the contrary. I suppose that proves that you good folks really believe me when I tell you something.
Well, I’ve got something else to tell you, and I ain’t none too happy ‘bout it. You won’t be happy ‘bout it either ‘cause it involves money that came out of your pocket. I read this a couple years ago, and it’s bothered me ever since.
The headlines: “Space capsule returns comet dust to Earth.” The item: “Dugway Proving Ground: After a seven year journey, a NASA space capsule returned safely to Earth on Sunday with the first space dust ever fetched from a comet, a cosmic bounty that scientists hope will yield clues to how the solar system formed.”
The article went on to quote project manager Tom Duxbury of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California: “This is not the finish line. This is just the intermediate pit stop.” The JPL, of course, managed the $212 million mission.
Did you catch that? A two hundred and twelve MILLION dollar mission!!!!
Now, I don’t know about you, but doesn’t that seem a wee bit steep just to accumulate some dust? Heck! I’ve got plenty of dust in my house that I would’ve let them have for a measly twelve million. That’s a two hundred million dollar savings!
Okay, I know some of you are thinking that my dust didn’t come from space. I beg to differ. In my house, between the floor, ceiling, walls, and the area not taken up by furniture, is occupied by space. The dust on my furniture came from that space. Now, just how the dust got in that space, I haven’t a clue. But I know I have plenty of it.
Quite honestly, I cannot say my dust is “pristine leftovers from the birth of the solar system”, but I can say I’ve plenty of leftovers, too. In fact, in my fridge there’s almost a half turkey sandwich left from a couple weeks ago.
Anyway, the paper went on to say “Stardust’s successful return was welcome news to the space agency, which suffered a setback in 2004 when its Genesis space probe carrying solar wind atoms crashed into the same Utah salt flats and cracked open after its parachutes failed to deploy.”
Solar wind atoms?!? Sounds a whole lot like something my mom once told me to do. After being under her feet for a while whining about not having anything to do, she suggested that I go outside and catch the wind. And trust me, it was more than just a suggestion! Seems like I remember an “or else” thrown in!
Just so you’ll know, I gave up trying to “catch the wind” after I got to the Athens City limits, some six miles away from the house. I almost caught it a time or two, though! Guess I got “winded” and gave up.
Back to the news item, this here space probe was claimed to have been traveling for seven years and 2.3 billion miles. I’m sorry, but I find that hard to believe, and here’s why.
First off, 2.3 billion miles and no gas stations? Just where did they buy gas? And with gas at $3.30 or so per gallon, and the probe getting at best 15 miles to the gallon….., well…., let’s see…, that’s three times 15….., carry the one…., uh…., subtract the three….,
Just how many zeros are in a billion, anyhow? Well, you do the math and as can plainly be seen, it just ain’t likely.
Also, can you imagine traveling seven years nonstop? And no gas stations? Well, we all know that the Environmental Protection Agency would not allow pit stops on the side of the road! If nothing else, you’d be arrested for indecent exposure.
So in my mind, that $212 million mission was probably worth less. Make that, worthless. Like I said, I’ve got plenty of space dust for sale. Shoot! I’d give it to ‘em if they’d just come get it. Might even throw in a turkey sandwich!
Galen White is a columnist for the Bossier Press-Tribune. Visit bossierpress.com to see more from Galen.