On December 30, 2004, I indicated the 3 paths followed by the imaging revolution:
- towards the microscopic
- towards the macroscopic
- towards mathematical abstractions
Today I'll concentrate on the path toward the macroscopic.
The launching in 1957 of Sputnik1 by the Soviet Union, as a technical achievement, caught the world's attention and engendered a sprint to space by all the nation-states that had the financial means to enter such an adventure. By the year 2000 4 nations were carrying the bulk of space investments, in order of importance: NASA, ESA, Russia and China.
The exploration of the cosmos and the observation of our planet from space that began some fifty years ago is leading humanity to a new understanding of its place in the evolution of the life cycle and as such is furthering its comprehension of reality. We are coming to realize that the Earth -and all life on it- is part of a much larger cosmic environment and that life on earth is subject to changes and fluctuations that may occur far far away. Space science has discovered that the essential ingredients of life, as well as places that are potentially suitable for its development, are very widely distributed throughout the cosmos.
Space imaging is thus going to directly impact upon humanity's conscience of the interconnectedness and interdependence of life on Earth with the Universe.