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Thursday, June 7, 2018

"Major Mars Announcement" due today from NASA, 11 am Pacific. Thu, June 8 2018 edition

Considering our space agency is starved for enough bucks to do much of anything, they always seem to find a way to delight, astonish, and invoke the wow factor. Today promises to eclipse the recent string of news factoids about Mars exploration.

· The most recent Mars probe launched May 5th, with tiny Cube Sats.

· On May 11th, we learned the next upcoming mission will take a drone helicopter to fly through the skies of Mars -- no easy feat with the Red Planet's thin atmosphere.

· On June 2nd, we learned the sheer persistence of JPL scientists and engineers had McGyvered a way to feed the sampling labs aboard Mars Curiosity and get them working again.

· The Volkswagen-sized rover landed back in 2012. Its cameras have showed us plenty, but its labs hadn't worked since October, 2016. The mechanisms connected to the drill system had failed 19 months ago, apparently hopelessly. Happily, "Not!"

And now, hot on the heels of that redemption, NASA has gathered top Mars experts to tell us something completely new, today.

Uncharacteristically, there hasn't been a clue what it is. Meaning we can expect it's 'uge.

The news is embargoed because of a deal with the journal Science, who gets first rights. So we'll all learn together what it's all about. And it happens today at 11 am PDT, 2 pm Eastern.

Various NASA platforms will carry the announcement live, and it includes a Q&A with questions submitted by scientists, journalists, and the public.

Catch it:

· on NASA TV

· at

· or if those bog and jam, go to


· or poke around, because others will also carry the feed live from the event.

Meanwhile, here are some music links, lyrics, video excitement, and a closing thought to get you "go" for launch.

"Don't You Wanna Go to Mars?"

(Robert Morgan Fisher/Extended Family Music-BMI)

Music player link (select from list):


Durell has a dream
just like Martin Luther King
It's a dream that he has passed on to his son
It's a dream to be an astronaut, but not just any astronaut
We're talking first man on the 4th rock from the sun

Calculator in the crib
starts young Taury's trip
Knew his times-tables by the age of 3
At 5 he knew his long division, Calculus by the age of 7,
Now he's 9 and doing Trigonometry

Don't you want to go to Mars?
Don't you want to go to Mars?
Now what we've come this far
Don't you want to go to Mars?

Aliyah's in Iraq
don't know when she's coming back
Yeah, Momma's been gone 14 months or more
Sends pictures through the Internet, landscape red and desolate
like an Evil Eden for the God of War

Don't you want to go to Mars?
Hey, don't you want to go to Mars?
Now what we've come this far
Don't you want to go to Mars?

There's a slave ship in 1688
Sailing cross the stormy Middle Passage
There's a space ship in 2028
Like a silver bottle carrying a message

Durell calls Taury "Rain Man"
it's a joke but they're in pain, man
Lately Taury's apathetic, sad and bored
Last they heard Aliyah, had been stop-lossed to Haditha
If they could only follow that ol' Drinking Gourd

Don't you want to go to Mars?
Hey, don't you want to go to Mars?
Now what we've come this far
Don't you want to go to Mars?

"Is Somebody Singing"

... in a voice from the void of space?

Astronaut Chris Hadfield, performing live aboard the I.S.S, backed from Earth by Barenaked Ladies and Wexford Gleeks chorus:

From CBC Music


- - - - - - -

"Space Oddity"

Astronaut Chris Hadfield performs the David Bowie original in space, with post-production aboard our little blue planet.

The piano is a bit heavy, but the view of the Ibanez acoustic guitar drifting down the space station module is must-see cool.

And 40,245,456 viewers can't be wrong:

- - -

"Making of..."

"Chris Hadfield: Space Oddity"

NOVA's Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

And, a blast (off) from the past...

"Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch Camera E-8"

...a launch pad camera view of the fire and fury at liftoff of the first mission that landed people on the Moon. Way back, 49 years ago this summer, in 1969...


- - - - - - -


It's been far too long since we were "a-okay."

Oh, for what we knew how to do then, that we no longer know how to do now. There was even a cliche for two or three decades, that "If we can go to the Moon, then why can't we _______" (fill-in the blank).

Perhaps we COULD fill-in a lot of blanks, if only we could see something like that 36-storey-tall Saturn V rocket launch, now.

We need it. Now, in this narcissistic, social-media-selfie-obsessed, short-shelf-life, forever-trending with the inconsequential and insubstantial, in this cultureless succession of subcultures, this spyware-saturated, metadata driven, meaningless celebration of the perfectly disposable 21st century.

If only we could see a giant rocket launching, a truly awe-inspiring validation of what we're doing with our time on the planet. Something  that was once again fostering dreams and giving hope that we can aspire beyond the farthest reaches of the clouds themselves. If we could again see our capabilities validated by taking humans to another world...

But all the money now goes to endless wars and enriching the bloated wealth of the top one-tenth of one percent. It all goes there, to big oil and big chem and big pharma, to big cyber-shopping for a bunch of crap we don't need but that validates our economic arrival by indulging in the latest trending junk that will be obsolete in a year. It all goes to a military-industrial-cybersecurity complex.

Instead of going to learning and exploring.

And the corporate media energy and attention goes, not to questioning any of that, but to playing Chicken Little, and to obsessive attention to feeding obsessions with talentless entertainment stars.

We let it go there, instead of reaching for the shining points of light in the night sky, fulfilling the ancient dream of our most distant ancestors to explore beyond the farthest horizon.

It goes to the hoarding few, and to our own irrational "FOMO" -- our fear of missing out -- missing-out on something transitory and ultimately transitory and inconsequential that will just pollute the endless landfill and feed the massive oceanic garbage patch.

That's what we do, because we allow obscene amounts of money to be spent buying politicians. We piss our money into the wind and we are surprised when it blows back and our trendy, overpriced, poorly-made clothes are soaked with it.

That's what we do. Instead of sending humans to the oceanic moons of Jupiter and Saturn, to reach beneath the ice sheets that cover their seas. To meet whatever and whoever calls those oceans home.

But we are obsessed with deporting aliens to Central America, Instead of meeting the aliens on the worlds next door, in our own solar system.

We bankrupt all hope of progress for humanity with our dependence on a warconomy. It has sabotaged our reaching for the stars.

So far. Until we change it. Until we change everything, reach back to the future, reclaim our legacy and the birthright of our species.

Perhaps it can re-start when NASA tells us something new today about our planetary neighbor. If it trends long enough. If it doesn't get buried with the victims of the latest school shooting.

With the 50th anniversary of the murder of Senator Robert Kennedy being observed with such a sense of a lost future, we can hope. We must hope. At least until we act to make dreams into the better future we all say we want.


The Guide waves our copyright on this edition, in hopes you will share it widely.

We'll be back soon with news of music and the arts.

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