Like a lot of people, I've been following the launch of the MSL Curiosity Rover. I was watching the news briefing given by NASA and JPL staff after the launch. They spoke of past and future space probes and longer term prospects for a manned mission to Mars.
It struck me how much more we now know of the solar system and the wider universe than we did when work began on the first probes. At the same time, new ground-based and satellite telescopes have extended our understanding of the universe.
Even though I'm not involved it these scientific achievements, I feel they lend a sense of purpose to our lives. It is in our nature to explore, discover and try to understand what we find.
Each new space probe or telescope project takes years to plan and construct. Probes then take months or years to reach their target, followed by further years of exploration and surveying. These are all long-term endeavours and good training for the day we venture beyond to the stars. A humanistic mindset is required, one that sees the value in these projects for the future benefit of us all.
Science and technology are what move society forward.