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WITNESS AND CELEBRATE NASA’S FUTURE
06.06.12
 
Ray Bradbury at the 5th anniversary celebration of the Mars rovers. Author Ray Bradbury spoke at JPL's 5th anniversary celebration of the Mars rovers in 2009. Credit: NASA

Editor's Note: Author Ray Bradbury died Tuesday, June 5, 2012, at the age of 91. According to the Los Angeles Times, as the author of more than 27 novels and story collections, "most famously 'The Martian Chronicles,' 'Fahrenheit 451,' 'Dandelion Wine' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes,' and more than 600 short stories, Bradbury has frequently been credited with elevating the often maligned reputation of science fiction." Bradbury wrote the following essay in 2000 for the NASA Art Program.






Why does NASA exist?

Why do we exist?

Why does life exist upon this strange and lonely planet?

How did we arrive and for what reason?

An age-old question. One that each of us at one time or another has asked.

Each time the Universe responds with silence.

NASA stands before that silence and probes that mystery.

We stand with NASA in response to the incredible miracle of impossible life on an insensate world.

We move back to a Moon that we wish we had never deserted. We move onward to Mars to establish a base and then a community and finally a miniature civilization on its enigmatic soil.

All this will be done not as a technological fear, a military exercise, or as a display of human vanity.

We do it because NASA has realized that the Universe which extends for billions of light years in all directions is meaningless unless--

Unless what?

Unless there are observers and caretakers of that stunning interstellar display.

The Universe demands to be noticed, to be seen, and dutifully noted.

What use all those incredible firework dimensions if no eye fixes and reflects, no brain takes notes, no heart moves with passion at the display?

NASA answers the silent cry of the Cosmos for recognition.

NASA is the witness and we fellow witnesses to the endless deeps.

NASA’s activities are "our" activities. The purpose of life on Earth is to see, to know, and to tell what the Cosmos has to offer. Without us human beings, without NASA, the Universe would be unseen, unknown, untouched. A mindless abyss of stars ask to be discovered.

So NASA in the coming years will be chief witness and we as fellow observers, celebrants to the cause. NASA and we have been given the job by genetic accident and surprise of crying Lo! to an unsolvable territory.

NASA and we do this to see, to know, and to prevail. Life one day on Earth will vanish through intemperate heat or cold. We prepare ourselves for the Time of Going Away to other worlds, to other stars.

Why? Because we love and value this life and living that has been given to us. Ours the obligation and to see and know and try to understand. First then, the Moon, then threshold Mars, and one far future day to landfall some world adrift near Alpha Centauri.

Can NASA do this? Can we run tandem with NASA and live forever or a million years, whichever comes first?

We can, we will, we must!