08/31/2012 04:18 pm ET

Table Talk: Neil Armstrong And Space Exploration

This week's Family Dinner Table Talk, from HuffPost and The Family Dinner book:

America lost a legend last week. On August 25th, Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, passed away at the age of 82. Armstrong said the famous sentence “That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" -- and is one of the pioneers of space travel and exploration.

As we celebrate Armstrong’s memory and his contributions to space research, it’s important to recognize that there are brand new space adventures going on right now.

On August 6th, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars after traveling 352 million miles through space. The tricked-out machine, which cost $2.5 billion to make, has lasers, 17 cameras and a “Chem cam” that can identify and measure chemical compositions from more than 20 feet away.

During its stay on the red planet, the rover will continue to send back amazing photos like these. It’s much more than an expensive camera, though. One of its goals is to discover whether Mars once had water like Earth does today. If scientists can understand how Mars became the dry, cold planet it is now, they can figure out whether it once sustained life -- and if, at some point, it could again.

The Curiosity rover will run out of power two years from now. Until then, every new day is a chance to learn more about our neighbor in the solar system. We owe it to Armstrong -- and his fellow space explorers -- to pay attention.

Questions for discussion:
  • What would you like the Curiosity rover to find out?
  • If you were in charge, what would the U.S.’s next project in outer space be?
  • Would you travel into space if you could?

In her cookbook, The Family Dinner, Laurie David talks about the importance of families making a ritual of sitting down to dinner together, and how family dinners offer a great opportunity for meaningful discussions about the day's news. "Dinner," she says, "is as much about digestible conversation as it is about delicious food."

We couldn't agree more. So HuffPost has joined with Laurie and every Friday afternoon, just in time for dinner, our editors highlight one of the most compelling news stories of the week -- stories that will spark a lively discussion among the whole family.