Recently in the Societal Issues Category

We recommend that the planetary science and space exploration community engage in a robust reevaluation concerning the ethics of how future crewed and uncrewed missions to the Moon and Mars will interact with those planetary environments. This should occur through a process of community input, with emphasis on how such missions can resist colonial structures. Such discussions must be rooted in the historical context of the violent colonialism in the Americas and across the globe that has accompanied exploration of Earth.

In 1930, Albert Einstein was asked for his opinion about the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe. "Other beings, perhaps, but not men," he answered. Then he was asked whether science and religion conflict. "Not really, though it depends, of course, on your religious views."

NASA Space Settlement Contest

The NASA Ames Research Center and the National Space Society (NSS) are co-sponsoring the NASA Space Settlement Contest in which students develop space settlement designs and related materials.

The activities of our global civilization are now intertwined with the evolution of the Earth system. Human civilization will face many challenges as it adapts to a rapidly changing world, and the result of many critical decisions today will have a lasting impact on generations to come.

Humans and Extrasolar Planets

Pave New Worlds, Are We Alone podcast, SETI Institute

The extra-solar planet count is more than 400 and rising. Before long we may find an Earth-like planet around another star. If we do, and can visit, what next? Stake out our claim on an alien world or tread lightly and preserve it? We'll look at what our record on Earth says about our planet stewardship. Also, whether a massive technological fix can get us out of our climate mess. Plus, what we can learn about extreme climate from our neighbors in the solar system, Venus and Mars.

- Ken Caldeira - Climate scientist from the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University
- Keith Cowing - Biologist, and editor of
- Kathryn Denning - Anthropologist at York University in Canada
- Gary Davis - Director of the Joint Astronomy Center in Hilo, Hawaii
- David Grinspoon - Curator of the Denver Museum of Science and Nature

This past summer, NAI participated in organizing a special weekend workshop held at NASA Ames Research Center entitled "The Future of Intelligence in the Cosmos." The workshop brought together internationally renown scientists and thinkers to explore potential scenarios for the evolution of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. The talks were organized into sessions including The Fermi Paradox, Cultural Evolution, The Nature of Intelligence, and Technological Evolution, followed by several breakout sessions. The proceedings are now available for download at:

[Source: NAI newsletter]

Seeing Our Reflection

This new article from Science & Spirit magazine cogitates on 'following the water' in the search for life elsewhere, and the relationship between water and enlightenment in mythology and human psychology. [Source: NAI Newsletter]

Astrobiology Poetry

"The First", by Stuart Atkinson

Maybe you're on Mars, inside
or hiding beneath a rock, many rocks,
exiled by the lethal blue-leeched sky
to a world of damp and dark,
A crystalline, Noachian dungeon where
"water" is just a scent and Time runs slow:
one billion sols... two billion sols...
between each breath a billion more...

19-21 September 2006 Hirshhorn Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC - Purpose: The purpose of this conference is to undertake a broad overview of the societal impact of space exploration, especially as illuminated by historical research. The purpose is not to conduct an exercise in public affairs or a debate over public policy, but to examine with rigorous research what the impact has been, both nationally and internationally.