VOYAGER 2's spectacular tour of Neptune has completed a momentous chapter in the history of earthly life. For the first time since that life appeared, an earthly species has, in a real sense, visited every other major planet. This remarkable spacecraft has extended humanity's perception father than it has ever reached. Telescopes show, as best they can, what is happening at a distance. Voyager's instruments give us close-up views of planetary action.
These on-site surveys, plus the findings of other planet-probing robots, provide an awesome new perspective on our own planet Earth. It alone in the solar system provides an environment hospitable to organic life.
Preserving that environment is more than a moral obligation toward future human generations. It is a biological imperative. Organic life has no other place to go.
Moon bases and Mars colonies won't be self-sustaining for an indefinitely long time. The home planet will remain life's solar system stronghold. Protecting the ozone layer, preserving forests, nurturing a diversity of plant and animal species, curbing industrial - and household - pollution are in the self interest of us all.
Happily, this new perspective is reorienting humanity's perception of self interest. Environmental issues now are high on the international political agenda, and on many national agendas as well.
Voyager 2 has fulfilled a 12-year mission that enables scientists to carry out a full range of research in comparative planetology. This has already greatly increased scientific understanding of Earth's place in the solar system. The perspective this provides should also enhance the wisdom with which we deal with our planetary home.