Today, the space community has achieved something incredible with the cooperation of scientists and engineers from around the world. Mars Curiosity, the most technologically advanced rover ever made, has landed on Mars tonight with great success. The rover soon will begin it’s job of exploring the surface of the red planet.
More officially known as the Mars Science Laboratory, it left earth in November, and landed today, joining it’s cousins Mars Pathfinder/Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, who captured the admiration of people around the world when they not only landed in January, 2004, but came to be a symbol for the ingenuity, dedication, and perseverance of the human spirit when the rovers far out lived their planned lives on Mars, and to this day Opportunity still does the work we have asked of it. It was planned to live for 92 and a half days. It has now lived over 3000 days on the Martian surface.
If Mars Curiosity has anywhere near the success that Opportunity and Spirit, I am confident that we will learn a lot about the planet, about the universe, and the human willingness to seek out the stars. Much like when I was following Spirit and Opportunity in 2004 and as amazing photos came from the planet, tonight I am reminded of a quote that comes to mind every time there is talk about space exploration, and whether we need to look beyond out own orbit. It is a quote from Babylon 5, by actor Michael O’Hare playing character Jeffrey Sinclair:
“Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics and you’ll get ten different answers, but there’s one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years or a thousand years or a million years, eventually our Sun will grow cold and go out. When that happens, it won’t just take us. It’ll take Marilyn Monroe and Lao-Tzu, Einstein, Morobuto, Buddy Holly, Aristophanes .. and all of this .. all of this was for nothing unless we go to the stars.”
Thank you to all the folks at NASA, all the folks worldwide who worked on the many parts and systems of the Marsd Curiosity rover, and those who have long supported the idea of space exploration. You have made this step forward in human progress possible, and a reality. The one thing that is always amazing to see is how humanity can overcome obstacles to do the most incredible things. With so many setbacks for the space program, the entire Shuttle fleet being decommissioned, major budget cuts at NASA and throughout the space program, and more, the folks who work in the space industry have achieved a momentous thing. Thank you, NASA, for driving, helping, feeding, and fueling human Curiosity.
Curiosity Rover @MarsCuriosity: I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL