NASA has a built-in PR machine — discovery of new phenomena in space.  It just released early results from its Parker satellite, which is close to the sun.  One might think the public would grow weary of hearing news about the universe, but that is not the case.  Each new observation gains press attention, as it should.  The 20th and 21st Century of exploration has fundamentally changed our view of the world.  We really are a blue marble isolated in a solar system in which all planets but our own are hostile to life as we know it.  Dreams of alien worlds and new peoples are science fiction.  Unless something violates physics, we will never investigate planets light-years away in other solar systems, but what we have learned is already enough to keep scientists working for decades.  And there is more to come.  Each new satellite, rover and space lab divulges unanticipated secrets.  We are living in an era of the new Columbus.  It’s exciting.

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