Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, July 1, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 1, 2017 


As the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft approached its 
destination on July 4, 1997, no NASA mission had 
successfully reached the Red Planet in more than 
20 years.

 Even the mission team anxiously awaiting 
confirmation that the spacecraft survived its 
innovative, bouncy landing could not anticipate 
the magnitude of the pivot about to shape the Space 

 In the 20 years since Pathfinder’s touchdown, 
eight other NASA landers and orbiters have arrived 
successfully, and not a day has passed without the 
United States having at least one active robot on 
Mars or in orbit around Mars.

 The momentum propelled by Pathfinder’s 
success is still growing. Five NASA robots and 
three from other nations are currently examining 
Mars. The two decades since Pathfinder’s landing 
have taken us about halfway from the first Mars 
rover to the first astronaut bootprint on Mars, 
proposed for the 2030s.

 “Pathfinder initiated two decades of continuous 
Mars exploration bringing us to the threshold 
of sample return and the possibility of humans 
on the first planet beyond Earth,” said Michael 
Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration 
Program at the agency’s headquarters in 

 Pathfinder’s rover, named Sojourner for the 
civil-rights crusader Sojourner Truth, became the 
best-known example of the many new technologies 
developed for the mission. Though Sojourner was 
only the size of a microwave oven, its six-wheel 
mobility system and its portable instrument for 
checking the composition of rocks and soil were the 
foundation for the expanded size and capabilities 
of later Mars rovers.

 “Without Mars Pathfinder, there could not 
have been Spirit and Opportunity, and without 
Spirit and Opportunity, there could not have 
been Curiosity,” Pathfinder Project Scientist Matt 
Golombek of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 
Pasadena, California, said of the subsequent 
generations of Mars rovers. JPL is now developing 
another Mars rover for launch in 2020.

 NASA planned Pathfinder primarily as a 
technology demonstration mission, but it also 
harvested new knowledge about Mars, from the 
planet’s iron core to its atmosphere, and from its 
wetter and warmer past to its arid modern climate.

 The space agency was shifting from less-
frequent, higher-budget missions to a strategy of 
faster development and lower budgets. Pathfinder 
succeeded within a real-year, full-mission budget 
of $264 million, a small fraction of the only 
previously successful Mars lander missions, the 
twin Vikings of 1976.

 “We needed to invent or re-invent 25 technologies 
for this mission in less than three years, and we 
knew that if we blew the cost cap, the mission 
would be cancelled,” said JPL’s Brian Muirhead, 
flight system manager and deputy project manager 
for Pathfinder. “Everybody who was part of the 
Mars Pathfinder Project felt we’d done something 
extraordinary, against the odds.”

 Crucial new technologies included an advanced 
onboard computer, the rover and its deployment 
system, solid-fuel rockets for deceleration, and 
airbags inflating just before touchdown to cushion 
the impact of landing. NASA re-used most of the 
Pathfinder technologies to carry out the Mars 
Exploration Rover Project, which landed Spirit and 
Opportunity on Mars in 2004.


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




Introducing Initiative-2217



[Nyerges is the author 
of “How to Survive 
Anywhere,” “Extreme 
Simplicity: Homesteading in the City,” “Foraging 
California,” and other books. He can be reached 
at, or Box 41834, 
Eagle Rock, CA 90041]

 We’re all more-or-less aware of certain realities 
that surround us and define our day-to-day reality. 
We live here in Southern California, in the Sierra 
Madre area, with hills to the north, and various 
waterways to our east and west in this coastal 
desert plain. Approximately 80% of the water 
that we need for daily life comes from afar. We 
know there are way too many people living here 
for the local ecology to support, so not only does 
our water come from afar, but so does our food, 
our power, and nearly all of the goods that fill 
the supermarket and hardware store shelves. The 
streets and apartments get steadily more crowded.

If you live here, you’re aware of these physical 
realities. You’re no doubt doing your best every 
day to get to work and the store and school and 
to support your family so your life situation 
can improve. Most of us are aware of the larger 
physical reality of living here, but the necessities 
of our life keep that reality as a subtle background 
awareness. It isn’t something we tend to think 
about a lot.

 That is, we don’t think about this unless there is 
an immediate, or impending, crisis.

 The recent several-years drought forced most 
of us, including city and state leaders, to begin 
the slow process of re-thinking how we do things, 
especially as it relates to water. This is because the 
lifestyle that we have all somewhat automatically 
chosen to live is not sustainable. We’ve created a 
world in the sprawling Los Angeles basin that is 
powered by the auto, where houses are packed 
into every imaginable piece of ground, where 
developers seek to maximize the economic utility 
of every bit of real estate, and local politicians 
are all too happy to support this unsustainable 

 Our chosen lifestyle is stressful on the landscape, 
and stressful on our nerves. It requires bringing 
in water from afar, with electricity generated far 
away, a world kept alive by countless services from 
within and without. 

 One of the great ironies of this dream world is 
that, though we must bring in water from afar to 
support our population, we then divert the water 
that we do get here quickly out to the ocean in 
the network of channelized rivers that have been 
created over the past century. We know why this is 
done, of course, because natural rivers want to go 
this way and that when the heavy rains are falling. 
So we channel our valuable water out to ocean as 
quickly as possible to protect our valuable real 
estate that was built too close to the river in the 
first place.

 Solutions abound, of course. Many pioneers 
have been taking bold steps to move us away from 
the disasters that will be the consequence of our 
choices. Let’s explore just a few of those solutions.

The trend towards drought tolerant lawns is a 
step in the right direction. Since about 80% of our 
water comes from afar, we don’t need green lawns 
just for the sake of aesthetics.

 With the water that we do use, everything but 
the toilet water can and should go into yards, where 
it is feasible to do so, to water landscaping plants, 
fruit trees, and gardens. This naturally requires 
the use of safe detergents, such as the Seventh 
Generation brand, or the Ed Begley Jr. brand. 
Plus, the building and safety department of each 
city needs to seriously review its view of gray water 
recycling. Gray water recycling is something that 
can be done very easily, economically, and safely, 
but the city’s stringent requirements are costly 
and more of an impediment than any sort of 
encouragement to go this route.

 Composting toilets are another idea whose time 
has come. Yes, they must be maintained properly, 
and they are not as care-free as flush toilets. Yet, 
consider the vast swath of human history where 
the toilet contents because a fertilizer for certain 
crops, with no need to waste vast volumes of water. 
As we think to a sustainable future, the compost 
toilets can be improved so they can be a staple in 
most households.

 The Southland’s water issues will only get 
worse as time goes on, as a function of increasing 
population. It is instructive to review records of 
our area from 100+ years ago, when the water table 
was higher and when the landscape looked green, 
not like a desert. One of the solutions looking 
to the future is to quit planting inappropriate 
landscaping plants, some of which are incredibly 
water-thirsty. The eucalyptus tree, for example, is 
one of the highest water-users and wells have been 
known to dry up after they are planted. They also 
“poison” the soil so that other more useful plants 
will not thrive. Far better is to follow the lead of 
such groups as Tree People and other tree-planting 
groups plant appropriate native trees.

 These are just a few ways in which we can go 
back to the future. I envision a plan that will look 
200 years into the future, allowing us to voluntarily 
move into a culture that is sustainable for this area. 
I call this Initiative-2217, a long-term vision which 
will be a unifying project of numerous groups 
working towards viable solutions. I will be sharing 
more of these details as the months proceed.

The Fourth of July is upon us and nobody enjoys 
a party more than Yours Truly. I will offer any 
excuse to break into some kind of a party mode. 
The slightest hint of refreshments and I have my 
"these-boots-were-made-for-walking" footwear 
on and I am ready to go.

 I especially like birthday parties, when it is 
somebody else's birthday, that is. I have found 
when it is my birthday party too many people 
want to congratulate me on another milestone 
in my life that I do not get a chance to enjoy the 
delectable refreshments. Smiling and stuffing the 
face do not go together.

 But a patriotic party is something altogether 
different. It is the birthday of our country and it 
is hard to imagine anybody celebrating too much 
on this anniversary. Over 230 years ago, give or 
take, this country came into being. And what a 
country it has been.

 Do we have problems? The only people without 
problems are those resting quite peacefully at 
Boot Hill. If there is life, there are problems. 
Our country has been of such a nature that no 
problem has been too big to solve. We are a nation 
of problem solvers. Henceforth, we need problem 
makers in order to prove what great problem 
solvers we are.

 If we had no problems in our country today 
nobody would know just how great we really are 
at solving problems. I do not get upset with all the 
problems floating around in our country today. I 
know any problem is a temporary inconvenience 
and that in the long run, good usually wins out.

 As I was thinking about this year's Fourth of July 
celebration, I began to reflect on all of the good in 
our country. If you want to see any good in this 
country, you first have to turn off the television 
newscasts, lay aside the daily newspaper and turn 
off your radio and then go take a stroll in the park 
where real life takes place.

 I know the news media has to do their job, but 
do they have to do it so well?

 For example, if there is some social burp 
somewhere in our country (especially if it is 
some celebrity) the news media from all over the 
country goes to that spot and for the next week 
there is 24/7 coverage of that little burp. After 
three days of constant news coverage, it is not 
hard to conclude that the entire world is going to 
that really hot place in a handbasket.

 For every negative story in the news today, 
there are 99 unreported incidences of peace and 
goodwill toward men. Maybe it is a good thing 
that only bad stories catch the headlines. Maybe 
that is an indication that in reality bad is the 
exception and good is the norm. Well, one can 
dream can't he?

 In spite of all the dissing of America, there are 
plenty of things to celebrate this coming Fourth 
of July.

 I was at the supermarket picking up an item on 
my way home the other day and as I was waiting 
to pay the bill, I happened to look at one of my 
dollar bills. Right in the middle of that dollar bill 
in plain sight were the words, "In God We Trust." 
I chuckled to myself. Every time someone uses a 
dollar bill in this country, they are giving tribute 
to the awesome fact that this country was built 
upon trust in God. And not just any God, but the 
Judeo-Christian God of the Holy Bible.

 One of my favorite sports is baseball. Just before 
any game the entire stadium stands and sings, 
The Star-Spangled Banner. In the middle of that 
song there is a phrase that goes, "And this be our 
motto: ‘In God is our trust!’"

 Our founding fathers took for granted 
something that this generation has long ago 
forgotten. Everything in this country is built 
upon God. Not some generic god, but the God 
of the Bible. To disavow that is to misunderstand 
what the founding of this country was all about.

 I often hear people crying out in defense of their 
ignorance, "Separation of church and state." That 
is about as possible as separating the hydrogen out 
of the air we breathe. It can be done but it leaves us 
with something we cannot breathe and exist.

 Then, every time we look at the American flag, 
we are reminded of the "Pledge of Allegiance to 
the American flag." A little phrase in that pledge 
says, "One nation under God." Again, the God 
referred to is the God of the Bible.

 For those who are trying to get away from God 
they have an impossible task on their hands. 
Every time they use an American dollar, they 
are acknowledging our trust in God as a nation. 
Every time they go to a baseball game and sing 
The Star-Spangled Banner, they are singing about 
their trust in God.

 Even atheists in this country have to start with 
God in order to define who he or she is. If I did not 
believe in God, I would not spend all my time and 
energy and resources fighting against something 
that I do not believe exists.

 But as I celebrate the Fourth of July, I will 
pause and give thanks to God for America and I 
probably will sing, "America! America! God shed 
his grace on thee."


 The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family 
of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 
34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver 
Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail The church web site is www.

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