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Tuesday January 17, 2006
Sending Plutonium to Pluto
I'm excited about NASA's "New Horizons" launch. We still have so much to learn about the universe we live in, and we know next to nothing about objects like Pluto that lie out in the Kuiper belt.
There's controversy surrounding the launch, because some folks think that putting plutonium on a rocket is too dangerous -- a launch accident could spread radioactive material. Well... okay, it IS dangerous. But I'm with the scientists who think that ultimately it's MORE dangerous to not learn as much as we can about our Solar system. It is, after all, only a matter of time before some wandering rock decides to play "Extinction Event Roulette" with us, and that's only the beginning of the threats we know about.
Using radioactive materials to power our space probes may pose a danger at launch, but it poses a huge advantage once those probes are out there in the big, black sky. They last longer, go farther, and ultimately we learn more. Like G.I. Joe said in those cute PSA spots right after Cobra's latest plan had been thwarted, "now you know, and knowing is half the battle."