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The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of


One would expect NASA to reach for the stars when dreaming. And reach they have.

Earlier this month, NASA released its “wish list” ranked by the National Research Council. While some pipedreams are never likely to see the light of day, others are challenges space contractors are sure to wave a magic wand over.

Mars burns brightly in the imaginations of NASA scientists. They’d like to land a rover to collect rock and soil samples.

The glittering ice on Jupiter’s moon Europa has caught NASA’s attention. Does a liquid ocean ebb and flow beneath the frozen surface? NASA would like to set sail to find out.

And what gases drape the atmosphere of Uranus? When the wind blows across the planet’s rocky terrain, is it mostly hydrogen or helium? NASA would like to capture wind in a bottle.

While NASA puts the dust covers on its manned spaceflight programs, the space agency turns its starry-eyed gaze to robotic space exploration, dreaming of flying robots and antimatter engines.

The review panel played the part of parent, gently reminding the agency of budget woes and impracticalities. Mars will remain a destination in dreams only if NASA can’t send a rover for under $2.5 billion.

Public discussions on NASA’s fairy dust list begin this week and will run through April.


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