So, at about half an hour after midnight South African Standard Time tomorrow, we’re going to sacrifice two Lunar Gravitational Orbiters.
The two orbiters have outlived their usefulness but will go down helping to validate our theoretical models of fuel consumption in such craft.
Part of me – a tiny, long-ago piece of me which thought it was the greatest achievement to be a Physicist – finds this really interesting and even commendable.Why waste the probes, after all? Let’s get them to give us some last transmissions of data.
A larger part of me, however, is shocked and dismayed by this wanton, machine-culture desecration of a symbol of all that’s numinous.
The moon is one of the greatest inducers of the mystical in the human – and has been so for as long as we’ve been walking upright, at least. Our sister planet, she has inspired us and conspired with us when we breathe the air of pneumos, spirit unbound.
What would I have us do differently? Nothing, I suppose. I just shudder at the culture which has bound us to such soulless effectiveness, most of the time.
Pic: Crater Goldschmidt, near the Moon;s North Pole, site of tonight’s crash landings.
Update: We’ve named the crash site after the late Sally Ride.