A fearless quarter-century deep look into the
future of the solar system.
Text by David J. Eicher and photographs by Jim Forbes
To help celebrate our 25th anniversary last year, the
editors of Astronomy gathered ten of the world's premier
planetary scientists for a forum. The questions spanned
the topic of what will happen in solar system astronomy
over the coming 25 years.
The answers, which came
during a three-hour session in Madison following last
year's Division of Planetary Sciences meeting, may
surprise you. We thank our participants: James Bell
(Cornell), Imke de Pater (University of California), David
Grinspoon (University of Colorado), Heidi Hammel
(MIT), William K. Hartmann (Planetary Science
Institute), Renu Malhotra (Lunar and Planetary Institute),
Karen Meech (University of Hawaii), Carl Pilcher
(NASA), Carolyn Porco (University of Arizona), and
Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute).
To quote in part:
Stern: It may be very difficult. Talk about chauvinism,
we're looking for radio signals. And it may not be
encoded in radio waves. We shouldn't rule out intelligent
whales on Europa . . . it's within the laws of physics.
Grinspoon: A species is intelligent if it's capable of not
destroying itself. This means that it's not clear that
humanity has passed that hurdle.
Stern: By that definition, oak trees are intelligent.
Invading Marian Territory: Mars Global Surveyor looks for clues to the
origin of life. By William K. Hartmann.