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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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Celebrity DNA to be preserved in space


Space may be the final frontier, but getting there is half the fun.

This week, people seem to be having an easier time of it than the machines developed to explore our cosmic neighborhood, even if those people are only going as chemical strands in a test tube.

I am a spaceman, and so can you!

Soon, two of the greatest Stephens alive will go into space together.

That’s right – both. Hawking and Colbert will be sending their DNA into orbit with a project called Operation Immortality.

Richard Garriott, game designer and graduate of Clear Creek High School, will be accompanying the mission’s payload into space, courtesy of a Russian Soyuz capsule.

The project’s aim is to provide a starting point for human re-emergence should some cataclysmic event befall our little blue marble in space, and while Garriott will return to Earth, the DNA samples will not.

If, as is feared, something should happen to cause human extinction, there will be a representative sample of humanity out there somewhere, ready to be brought back either by surviving scientists on Earth or by an alien race somewhere far away.

This assumes many different premises – that aliens will understand what DNA is (life may be formed in a completely different manner on distant worlds), that equipment will exist for the procedure to work and that the target world will be suitable for human existence, among other problems, but it’s an effort in the right direction.

Houston, we have a budget cut

Ever the government’s red-headed stepchild, NASA has just been informed that the Mars Science Laboratory’s mission may be terminated.

After exceeding the budget by $500 million on an already expensive project $1.5 billion for the rover alone and after being hit with huge schedule setbacks, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin may have to make the decision to delay or outright cancel the project.

Further setbacks could cost another $300 million and extra time that could have been applied to other scheduled missions to the outer planets.

To make matters worse, Congress has the authority to finish it off on their own, and might – they have to come up with $700 billion from somewhere, right?

This could mean Mars research would be set back by a decade, which is a shame because the other two rovers still on Mars, Spirit and Opportunity, just found snow on our nearest neighbor.

With clear evidence of water on Mars in our grasp, it’s not a pleasant decision to have to make.


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