Papal astronomer celebrates Mars missions

The rocket carrying NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover vehicle takes off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in July 2020 (CNS/Reuters/Joe Skipper) (CNS/Reuters, JoeSkipper)

As Perseverance, the latest probe on Mars, sends to Earth high-definition images, video and audio of its surroundings, one papal astronomer said he hoped the new discoveries will inspire future explorers. Source: NCR Online.

With advanced degrees in physics, philosophy and theology, Jesuit Brother Robert Macke said, “What really inspired me to come into this field was growing up with the results that were coming out of the spacecraft missions, like Voyager, and all the photographs that nobody had ever seen before” of Saturn and its moons and other objects in the solar system.

Br Robert, born in 1974 in Fort Worth, Texas, told CNS it was the reality of scientific discoveries that made him say, “Wow, these are real places that you can really explore and photograph and study,”

“Seeing the results and the images that come out of missions like Perseverance, I hope these will be an inspiration to the next generation of young scientists,” he said on Friday in a call from the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo near Rome.

When the Mariner 4 probe flew by Mars in 1965 and took the very first pictures of another planet ever seen, “it saw a dry, desolate planet”, Br Robert said.

The Perseverance will be able to drill under the Martian surface and store sample cores in tubes for possible future study. It also has ground-penetrating radar that should help understand the structure underneath the surface, and it will drive along what had been a lake full of water, because, Br Robert said, “when we’re looking for life, you follow the water”.


Papal astronomer celebrates Mars missions (By Carol Glatz, CNS via NCR Online

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