One of my earliest memories is standing with my father on the balcony of my grandmother’s house in Auckland. “Ma’s House” had a spectacular view northwards, across Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, and the Moon was visible in the early evening sky. Following my eye, my father pointed and said, “I think there are people there at the moment.”
My mother and father – whose own childhoods took place against the backdrop of the Pacific War and the Blitz, respectively – hoped that their children’s lives would be safer and more comfortable than their own. But parents today should have no such illusions about what our children could face in the anthropocene if climate action does not begin right now.
Imagine living in a world where walking and biking was as safe – by Commander Hadfield's measure – as flying in space.
Unlike almost any other form of transport, regular cycling leaves you fitter and healthier than sitting in a car, or a bus or a train. Not only that, Auckland's best cycle paths run through parks and incorporate a series of stunning bridges, so you are likely to arrive at work with a smile on your face.
NASA has an undoubted ability to sell a story, and it has been making the most of the anthropomorphic appeal of this brave little $3 billion, 5 ton, plutonium-powered spacecraft on its two-decade mission. But the hype is not misplaced: Saturn has a key place in the evolving human understanding of the cosmos.