The exploration of inner and outer space has been one of the United States's greates contributions to modern culture and knowledge but will not continue for long because of financial cutbacks. Richard M. Goody. Mallinckrodt Professor of Planetary Physics, said last night.
Speaking before a crowd of 350 at the Science Center. Goody described the discovery of the outer planets of the solar system and recent exploration of distant planetary satellites.
The study of these distant bodies has supported the idea that life could exist on other planets, Goody said. Titan, Saturn's biggest satellite, has been shown to have a deep atmosphere, unlike most satellites, which are too light to hold an atmosphere by gravitational attraction.
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Titan's atmosphere is "probably similar to the earth's first [original] atmosphere," Goody said, because it contains large amounts of methane and nitrogen. "If there is life anywhere in the solar system, Titan seems the most likely place to find it," he added.
Technological advances over the past few decades have created an "enormous explosion of information" about the solar system, Goody said. However, the "present financial climate in the United States" does not appear to be conducive to further research in the outer solar system, he added.
"As Japan, Europe, and Russia get further into exploration, the United States will probably be working from the ground. The planetary program, sadly enough, does not fit in with the shuttle program, and this seems to be the reason for the dying state of our planetary program." Goody concluded