NASA has released the latest images from the Hubble Space Telescope and they are--as usual--spectacular. The best of the new crop is a yellow dwarf star (much like our own Sol) swallowing a planet that has drifted too close (see left)
Have we as Americans ever spent a better six billion dollars than it cost us to build, launch, repair and service the Hubble? It has already outlasted its life expectancy--has produced images even better than NASA anticipated and has given us a greater understanding of our universe and our origins than any other single piece of scientific equipment ever built by man.
My all-time favorite images from Hubble are the one where you see stars literally being born in the Eagle Nebula (see above right) and the Deep Space shot where there are thousands of galaxies all hurtling from what seems to be a common point (the Big Bang Shot?).
As the Obama Administration considers gutting the US Space Program--scrapping the Moon missions, renting space on Russian rockets for low-earth orbit work on the International Space Station and pushing back the timetable for manned missions to Mars--maybe those in the White House should take another look at the Hubble pictures. Or at least video footage of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions. The Manned Space Program continues the evolution of human education and exploration that started with man moving out of the caves--traveling the oceans and taking to the skies. For while pictures from Hubble and other telescopes certainly teach us a lot--man still learns best by seeing things through his or her own eyes.