1. EXPLORATION: EXPEDITION FROM EARTH LANDS ON DISTANT TITAN.
Last Friday, the reach of man extended 900 million miles to the surface of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. It stands as one of the most notable voyages of exploration in history. Carried piggyback on Cassini since 1997, the European Space Agency's Huygens probe parachuted 789 miles to reach Titan's smoggy surface. Huygens had the good fortune to land on solid ground, within sight of the shoreline of a hydrocarbon sea. Over the next several hours, until its batteries finally died, Huygens transmitted everything it had learned back to Cassini, which relayed it to Darmstadt. The data will keep researchers busy for years. Cassini will continue studying Saturn for another four years. Meanwhile, only 90 miles from the surface of Earth, the NASA On-Orbit Status Report notes that the ISS crew checked gear for a 26 Jan space walk, performed periodic microbial air sampling, did routine maintenance on the toilet facilities, performed a 2.5 hour exercise program, had an interview with USA Today and recorded a video message in observance of the 250th anniversary of Moscow State University. Today's quiz: Which cost the most, Cassini/Huygens or the ISS?
2. VISION: LUNAR RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER (LRO) SET FOR 2008.
The first spacecraft built as part of President Bush's Vision for Space Exploration, LRO is the first of a series of robot probes to pave the way for human missions to the Moon. That, if anyone remembers, was the mission of Apollo 10 in 1969. It makes good sense. We wouldn't want to send humans to some strange place. Once we've learned everything there is to know about the Moon, we can send astronauts to mug for the cameras.
3. EVANGELICAL CHRISTIANS: SPONGE BOB SQUARE PANTS IS OUTED.
The top story today seemed to be the gown Laura Bush wore to the inaugural balls. Number two was equally important. The founder of Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson, has exposed SpongeBob SquarePants as a closet gay. It's not like we had no warning. We were told these things would keep happening if firm action was not taken to clean up children's programs like the Teletubbys. Tinky Winky, from the UK, was purple, carried a handbag and held hands with guys. What else do you need?