Something Wonderful: The Little Mars Rover That Could


Posted by rickl at January 29, 2010 6:33 PM

One more time. With feeling.

To Spirit

It was a big job to ask
of little gears and chips
and shiny foil.
To race alone through nothingness,
to taste the red dust
of a land no soul calls

But, like the little pill bug
that entertained an earthling
with his plodding in the rain,
you rolled on.

But if you stop,
burdened by the dust
or an unseen crack
in the cosmic sidewalk,
who is there to pick you up,
dust you off,
or place you gently
under a leaf?

Posted by Cathy at January 29, 2010 8:42 PM

There will most likely never be a human's bootprint on the surface of Mars; it's now way too expensive and too dangerous for humans to spend so much time in a vacuum full of cosmic rays, and by the time we have the resources and the technology to do it safely there will be no point; robots will have long been doing a better job of exploration, far more cheaply.

But the little rover that could has shown why that is no great loss. We're there with the little guy and will be with all his successors.

Posted by Brett_McS at January 30, 2010 1:38 AM

Brett: I respectfully disagree. Mankind has been dreaming of going to Mars for so long now that it's become ingrained in our psyche. I'd say it's almost inevitable that we will go there. I don't know whether it will happen in my lifetime. I'm 52, and thirty years ago I would have taken it as a given that we would already be there by now. We could have, if it weren't for toxic deconstructionist leftist ideology and shortsighted political leaders whoring themselves for votes by "spreading the wealth around."

Look at the history of aviation. People had dreamed of being able to fly for centuries, yet as late as 1903 there were serious, learned experts still saying that a man-carrying flying machine was physically impossible, or at least so impractical as to not be worth the effort.

Posted by rickl at January 30, 2010 8:18 AM

And there's more to it than mere curiosity or exploration.

The Sun is a main-sequence star, and like all main-sequence stars it is slowly burning hotter as it ages. It has been calculated that in less than a billion years from now, the Earth's oceans will have boiled away and Earth will be too hot and dry to support life.

In other words, life on Earth has mostly run its course. That is completely independent of anything man does to the environment.

So we, or our descendants, will have to colonize Mars, as a prelude to leaving our solar system altogether. In the long run, it's a matter of survival.

Posted by rickl at January 30, 2010 8:42 AM

Cathy, that was beautiful. Kudos.


Posted by jwm at January 30, 2010 9:38 AM

Sustainable space exploration will be done as a business enterprise on the basis of RoR in the future (as indeed most historic examples of exploration of the Earth were). In the case of space, that means robots. I wouldn't rule out some future multi-trillionare (adjusted for inflation) version of Richard Branson organising a manned mission, but it would be a once-off.

As for worrying about the sun ... the human species clock will be lucky to be still ticking in a million years, let alone a billion. Species have a limited lifetime because DNA accumulates croft over generations. We're already on the later half of that road.

Posted by Brett_McS at January 30, 2010 1:31 PM

This sort of thing makes me cry, you know.

Posted by Dr. Mabuse at January 30, 2010 5:35 PM

There's no doubt in my mind that humans will eventually walk on the surface of Mars. But they won't be Americans. My country no longer possesses the courage and will to do such things.

Posted by Sundog at February 1, 2010 10:26 AM

We'll set foot on Mars when we need to, it's as simple as that.

Posted by Crossie at February 1, 2010 12:26 PM

Meanwhile, in a parallel dimension, all of the Jews left Earth and colonised the moon. Their story here:

Posted by Dan Lewis at February 1, 2010 2:24 PM

"Do not anthropomorphize the rovers. They don't like it"

Posted by Chipotle at February 1, 2010 10:07 PM

I don't like personifying machines either. We did that with animals and it spawned the animal rights movement. Personifying machines can't end well.

Posted by feeblemind at February 2, 2010 8:13 AM

In spite of the fact that NASA is one of the few extracurricular entities of government worth investing our tax dollars into, wouldn't you know it, obambam's throwing it under the bus.
Schools that teach science and programs that reach for the stars have no place in obama's vision of America.

Posted by Cheezburgrrr at February 3, 2010 8:00 PM