Curiosity mission well worth the cost

Reader Input
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As a citizen interested in the world and universe in which I live, I must take on Sally Dawley’s comical comments (“Will Martians continue their lifestyle?,” Reader Input, Aug. 8) denigrating the country’s accomplishment of landing the rover Curiosity on Mars. The gist of her words, as I understand, is this is another example of big government waste and interference and won’t do anything to help her or this country.
I was among about 8,000 people cheering the Curiosity landing at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View last Sunday.
I hadn’t felt such national pride since the long-past days of lunar exploration. In a series of incredibly complicated maneuvers, we had landed a car-sized scientific vehicle safely on the surface of a world more than 100 millions miles away. As great as this accomplishment was, it is just the beginning of Curiosity’s two-year mission to find out if life ever existed, or now exists, on this planet.
Some, like Sally Dawley, don’t want to know anything new. They are comfortable in the world as they perceive it. I presume there were many like her in Europe in the 15th and 16th century who thought those explorers sailing off onto the oceans were wasting money that could be used for better things. What would they find, anyway? What could possibly be out there beyond the horizon that could benefit me or my country? What, indeed. John F. Kennedy’s efforts to land a man on the moon cost billions. But what price is national pride? Oh, there were a few unimportant things like computers that were spawned by this waste of money.
The human spirit withers when it no longer can wonder and explore. Life becomes just an existence. I, for one, want to do more than just exist. NASA’s budget accounts for 0.5 percent of federal spending. Unmanned planetary exploration accounts for a fraction of that. I believe that keeping the human spirit alive is well worth this cost.
Herb Tanimoto, Cool