A current Bob Park’s item which I will brazenly quote in its entirety.
In discussing NASA’s future on Tuesday, the NY Times was mesmerized by
the “gap” between the end of the shuttle and the launch of a new bus to
transport astronauts. Forget the damn gap. The 21st Century will be
focused on planets around other suns, and on the bad news about what’s
happening to our own planet. Astronauts can’t go to other stars, but we
can build better telescopes and get a better look at them. Astronauts
will be no help either in studying our own Sun and our own planet, Earth.
We need to finish what we set out to do a decade ago, but were stopped
from doing by the Bush administration: launch an updated Deep Space
Climate Observatory. There is still time, but we urgently need to get
This is point 4 from the Jan 2 ’09 edition which should be visible on Park’s archive page soon. (I get the email version.)