Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, December 23, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11

Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 23, 2017 11THE WORLD AROUND US 
Mountain Views-News Saturday, December 23, 2017 11THE WORLD AROUND US 
NASA has selected two finalist concepts for a roboticmission planned to launch in the mid-2020s: a cometsample return mission and a drone-like rotorcraftthat would explore potential landing sites on Saturn’slargest moon, Titan.

The agency announced the concepts December 20,
following an extensive and competitive peer reviewprocess. The concepts were chosen from 12 proposalssubmitted in April under a New Frontiers programannouncement of opportunity.

“This is a giant leap forward in developing ournext bold mission of science discovery,” said ThomasZurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s 
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Theseare tantalizing investigations that seek to answer someof the biggest questions in our solar system today.” 

The finalists: 

Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return(CAESAR):

The CAESAR mission seeks to return a samplefrom 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a comet 
that was successfully explored by the EuropeanSpace Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, to determine itsorigin and history. Led by Steve Squyres of CornellUniversity in Ithaca, New York, CAESAR would bemanaged by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center inGreenbelt, Maryland. 


Dragonfly is a drone-like rotorcraft that wouldexplore the prebiotic chemistry and habitability ofdozens of sites on Saturn’s moon Titan, an ocean 
world in our solar system. Elizabeth Turtle from theJohns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory(APL) in Laurel, Maryland, is the lead investigator,
with APL providing project management.

The CAESAR and Dragonfly missions will receivefunding through the end of 2018 to further developand mature their concepts. NASA plans to selectone of these investigations in the spring of 2019 tocontinue on to subsequent mission phases.

The selected mission will be the fourth in NASA’s 
New Frontiers portfolio, a series of principalinvestigator-led planetary science investigations thatfall under a development cost cap of approximately 

$850 million. Its predecessors are the New Horizonsmission to Pluto and a Kuiper Belt object known as2014 MU69, the Juno mission to Jupiter, and OSIRIS-
REx, which will rendezvous with and return a sampleof the asteroid Bennu. 
NASA also announced the selection of two mission 
concepts that will receive technology developmentfunds to prepare them for future mission 
The concepts selected for technology development:
Enceladus Life Signatures and Habitability 
The ELSAH mission concept will receive funds 
to develop cost-effective techniques that limit 
spacecraft contamination and thereby enable lifedetection measurements on cost-capped missions.
The principal investigator is Chris McKay of NASA’s 
Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley,
and the managing NASA center is Goddard. 
Venus In situ Composition Investigations (VICI)
Led by Lori Glaze at Goddard, the VICI missionconcept will further develop the Venus Elementand Mineralogy Camera to operate under the harshconditions on Venus. The instrument uses lasers on 
a lander to measure the mineralogy and elementalcomposition of rocks on the surface of Venus.
The call for concepts was limited to six mission 
themes: comet surface sample return, lunar southpole-Aitken Basin sample return, ocean worlds (Titanand/or Enceladus), Saturn probe, Trojan asteroid tourand rendezvous, and Venus in situ explorer.
New Frontiers Program investigations addressNASA’s planetary science objectives as describedin the 2014 NASA Strategic Plan and the 2014NASA Science Plan. The program is managed bythe Planetary Missions Program Office (https:// at NASA’s Marshall 
Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for theagency’s Planetary Science Division in Washington.
You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@ 

[Nyerges is an author / lecturer /children to go to sleep or that Santa will not come.
educator who has written such In one story, he apparently snuck into the home of a familybooks as “Extreme Simplicity,” where the three daughters of a poor man were about to get“How to Survive Anywhere,” married. Nicholas put some gold into the stockings which“Guide to Wild Foods,” and other the girls left by the fire to dry. This, apparently, is the originbooks. Information about his of hanging up stockings on Christmas eve. Nicholas was also 
books and classes is available well known for the gifts that he gave to newly married couplesat www.SchoolofSelf-Reliance, or Box 41834, Eagle Rock,CAduring the already established Christmas season.
90041]And so it goes. Nicholas was a complex man, part of the

A few years ago, I recall a Christian woman complainingnew Catholic tradition which celebrated the birth of Jesus on 
that Santa Claus has gained a more prominent role during thethe already-observed winter solstice. (Early Judeo-ChristiansChristmas season than the Jesus child. She argued that thisdid not celebrate the birth of Jesus, a date that has been lost to 
was a sign that “we” have allowed secularism – and maybehistory. Some historians argue that the birth of Jesus occurredeven paganism – to creep into the Christmas tradition. Really?in either May or September, but everyone agrees it was not

So, who is Santa Claus? Isn’t he just a fictitious jolly man toDecember 25.)
make us feel happy during the dark of December? Not really.He died on December 6, 343,which is to this day knownThere actually was an historical figure, upon which “Santaas “Saint Nicholas Day.” Upon his death, he was buried in the 
Claus” is based. cathedral of Myra. He is revered as a saint in most sects of 

Nikolas of Myra was an historical 4th century Bishop in theChristianity and is especially honored in the Eastern OrthodoxCatholic church of Asia Minor (modern-day Demre, Turkey).Church. 
He was born on March 15, 270, in Pataya, Lycia, in AsiaBy the year 450, churches in Greece and Asia Minor were 
Minor, what is now modern Turkey. At that time, however,being named in honor of Nicholas. He was officially honoredthe area was culturally Greek, and was politically a part of theas a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church in 800. December 6 
Roman diocese of Asia. He was the only child of wealthybegan to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France byGreek parents, who both died in an epidemic when Nicholasthe 1200s. 
was young. Nicholas inherited much from his parents, andAs time went on, when ever someone received a mysteriouswas then raised by his uncle (also named Nicholas), who wasgift, it would often be attributed to Saint Nicholas, whicha Bishop of Patara, and who trained young Nicholas into helped to grow his mythology.
priesthood.The Dutch called Saint Nicholas “Sinterklass,” which is the 

Nicholas was said to be religious from an early age, and hemost likely manner in which the name Saint Nicholas graduallyalways fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays.evolved into “Santa Claus.” Along the way, Saint Nicholas was

Because of his outspoken beliefs, he was persecuted bygiven some of the attributes of Odin, the Norse God, who couldthe Romans and was imprisoned during the persecution of travel through the sky and who had a secret home somewhereDiocletian. around the north pole. Come to think of it, even the Superman

In case you never heard of the “persecution of Diocletian,” story borrowed from Odin. Remember how Supermanit was the Roman Empire’s most severe of the persecutionssometimes goes to a secret cavern in the Northern coldlandsagainst Christians, simply because they were Christians. It was and converses with his ancestors via ice crystals?
also known as the “Great Persecution.” In 303, four emperorsThe image continued to morph over the years, with theissued a series of dictatorial laws which essentially did awayCoco Cola company giving the world a somewhat sanitizedwith any legal rights of Christians. The edicts demanded that and plumper Saint Nicholas / Santa Claus with their early 20ththe Christians comply with traditional Roman “religious”century ads. There we began to see the fatter bearded man inpractices, meaning, giving sacrifices to the various Romanthe red suit. 
gods. The implementation of these edits was weakest in theToday, the man you see in the mall is the modernBritish colonies where the Empire had the least sway, and thecondensation of fact and myth, embodying the generosity ofmost severe in the Eastern provinces, where Nicholas Catholic Bishop, the good will of all who gave gifts in his

Since Nicholas refused to worship the Roman gods, he wasstead, and bits of the mythology of Odin. And I was reallyimprisoned, and suffered hardship, hunger, and cold for aboutfeeling good about that, thinking that the mall is at least one last5 years. Then Constantine came into power, a man know forplace where you can go and take your picture with Santa for“Christianizing” the roman Empire. He nominally became afree – except, in most malls these days, you can’t! Yes children, 
Christian, and ended the persecutions in 313, and Nicholaseven Santa has to make a living. 
was released. Constantine is known for “Christianizing” theRoman Empire, and re-naming all the Mythraic and so-called

“pagan” holidays so they could all now be regarded as Christian

that maybe I should go on a diet and I rebutted by


saying, “How in the world could I give up eating your

Shortly after his return to his homeland in 317 A.D.,

delicious food?” She smiled and never mentioned 

Nicholas became the Bishop of Myra.

going on a diet again.

He was later invited to attend the First Council of Nicaea in 

Hoping she had forgotten about me, she turned

325, the famous council where much of the modern dogmaof the Catholic church was determined. Nicholas of Myra

to me and ask, “So, what was the best part of yourwas one of many bishops to participate in the Council at

Constantine’s request. He is listed as the 151st attendee at the 

Finally, a thought came to me, and I replied,

“Spending the year was someone like you.” I thoughtAt the Council, Nicholas was a staunch anti-Arian. Arius 

that would get me off the hook for a while until sheof Alexandria held the position that the Son of God did not

responded by saying, “What do you mean someone

always exist, but was created by the Father. Nicholas disagreed

like me?” 

with Arius, and defended the developing orthodox Christian

Sometimes no matter what you do or say, it’s not

viewpoint. According to stories told, Nicholas got so angry at

the right thing.

Arius that he punched him in the face! Really? Proto-Santa 

David knew something of this when he wrote, “I

Claus punches a fellow man of the cloth?

have considered the days of old, the years of ancient

Back in his homeland, Nicholas developed the reputation

times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I

of being a generous bishop. He inherited wealth from his 

commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made

parents, and he would sometimes give gold and other valuablesto those who he learned were in need. In one case, it is said that 

diligent search” (Psalm 77:5-6).
Nicholas tossed a bag of gold coins into a needy family’s yard,

Cherishing good memories makes the New Yearanonymously. Those who wrote about Nicholas said that he 

that much more exciting.
was a humble man, and didn’t want to be seen giving money

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God

to people, so he did it secretly. He was so famous for wanting

Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He

to give such gifts in private when he traveled the countryside,

lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at

children were told to go to sleep quickly or Nicholas would 

352-687-4240 or e-mail The

not come with gifts. This, apparently, is the origin of telling 

church web site is 


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder 


No time in the year is busier than the ChristmasAt first, I did not know what she was talking about
holiday season. Under normal circumstances, itso I asked her to repeat and explain what she was
would not be too bad, except for the fact that thetalking about.
Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in charge.“I can’t believe,” she repeated with a deep sigh,

Not complaining, mind you, but she is in charge“that another year has gone by so quickly.” 
365 days out of the year. Her battery never runsAfter a few thoughtful seconds, I begin todown and never needs charging.understand what she was saying. Another year has

I am glad she is like that because it gives me lessslipped by into the silence of the night to be seen no 
to do during such busy holiday times. She knowsmore. 
exactly what she is going to do and how she is goingAt first, it was a little disconcerting. I was havingto do it and when she is going to do it. My job duringfun, or so I thought, during the year. To see that gothe holiday season is to Stay Out Of Her Way.was a little bit disturbing and so I began sighing

However, the hustle and the bustle of the holidaydeep sighs. We formed a wonderful duet singing theseason is over and for a minute or two, we can relax. “Silent-Night-Sighing-Duo.” 

I never know when that time comes. Like I got upWith only a few more hours left of the old yearearly the other morning and heard from the otherI really did not know how to spend it. It goes by soside of the bed, “What are you getting up for? Don’tfast that it is hard for me to keep up. What could Iyou know Christmas is over?”do for a couple of hours that would make this year a

When we did get up, she fixed our morning coffeeremarkable year?
and we sat around the Christmas tree just enjoyingThen my wife challenged me with a verythe quietness. A few days ago, the whole room wassophisticated question. She certainly knows howalive with chatter and laughter. You might recognizeto interrogate a person and should be on the FBI’sthat as “grandchildren.” Of course, this was the firstpayroll.
year we had our great grandson with us. It was a“What was,” she said rather thoughtfully, “the onehilarious time of noise and activity.most important part of this year for you?”

What would Christmas be without that kind of What a question. How can you boil a whole yearcelebration? down to one thing? After all, you have 365 days, 52

Now it is over and we were sitting aroundweeks and 12 months, how in the world can you boilstaring at the Christmas tree drinking our all that down to one thing?
After-Christmas-Morning-Joe.“I’m not sure,” I said rather hesitatingly. “What

Not paying attention to anything that was goingwas your one important aspect of the year?”
on, just enjoying the silence I did not hear my wifeI thought I could deflect the question and get hersighing. It was a gentle sigh, so I did not hear it right talking about her year and forgetting about my year.
away.She had many things that were very important to

That is the difference between husbands and her during the year. Most of it had to do with herwives. My wife can hear what I am thinking sevengrandchildren. If there were an annual award for thedays before I even start thinking. A man, on thebest grandmother, she would probably win.
other hand, takes seven days just to hear something.Then of course, there were the thrift store 

It finally came to me what she was doing and so Ishopping escapades. She knows every thrift storeasked, “What are you in such deep thought about?”in the county and knows everybody working those

That brought another deep sigh and a momentstores. The most important aspect of this is, theyof silence and then she said, “I can’t believe another know her and quite well.
year is gone.” I would be failing in my duty as a husband if I did

not mention the marvelous cooking and baking shehas done throughout the year. She once mentioned

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