After the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, NASA will launch in 2016 the InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) probe to study the interior of Mars. That sounds… boring. The two other proposed space probes was a comet hopper and landing a robotic boat on the methane lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan. It’s painfully obvious that NASA picked the wrong space probe mission.
Landing a robotic boat on another world would have been a really cool thing to do. Drilling for rocks on a barren planet isn’t as cool. Comet hopping? Oh, please. We got Kristen Stewart for that.
If manned spaceflight is being turned over to private industry, maybe private industry can take care of the unmanned missions that NASA doesn’t want for not being boring enough. Maybe a Kickstarter project can raise the money to help build the probe, Virgin Galactic can launch the probe with a satellite launcher and James Cameron can do a documentary about the mission.
Space used to be the next exciting frontier for humanity. As a young child in the 1970’s, I read every available book and pamphlets at the local library about all the space probes being sent out into the solar system. The Voyager probes are still ticking nearly 35 years later, hurling out into interstellar space with enough nuclear fuel to keep transmitting until 2020. As an adult, I can’t find the excitement for space anymore. Perhaps because NASA is leading the way in being boring rather than being visionary about the future.