This morning humankind made another amazing leap forward in the field of “look at our big brains” contest. NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, successfully landed on the surface of Mars. Curiosity is the most sophisticated roving lab ever to land on another world. The rover is the size of a mid-sized SUV with some of the most advanced technology available.
It was launched in November and finally made it to the Red Planet this morning. So that’s one hell of a commute. It’s designed to last two years on the Martian surface but might operate longer. Considering the successes of the 2004 rovers, Spirit and Opportunity; Spirit stopped working in 2010 and Opportunity is still functioning. So odds are pretty good that Curiosity will not be killed by the cat. Unless that cat is a mutant Martian monster who our rovers disturb from its billion year slumber then proceeds to wreak havoc upon the cosmos.
I find it fascinating that at this very moment there is a device made by the hands of men and women rolling around on the surface of a planet 352 million miles from Earth. It’s astounding. It’s monumental. It makes me proud to be a human being for once. Considering how awfully we tend to treat each other I think this dedication to the exploration of another world is inspiring. Also it’s kind of neat to happen during the Olympics.
It was ambitious and I think it’s something we’ve been lacking for a while, especially when it comes to the solar system and universe around our little planet. Our home is essentially a giant rock in space, luckily caught in the “Goldilocks” zone of the sun’s gravity. Liquid water can exist on Earth which allows for the promulgation and expansion of organic life to root and evolve. It’s really a celestial crap shoot to be in the butter zone of the universe.
I’m happy that there are scientists still breaking the boundaries of our little planet. I don’t think little kids want to grow up to be Astronauts anymore. I don’t think there are many explorer types any more. I miss the kinds of people that were only interested in the expansion of their own knowledge and the knowledge of future generations. I just don’t hear much about them. I’m sure they are out there, working at some dead end job for now and working on worm hole theory on the their nights off. I’m sure there are brilliant minds just itching to try out that Flux Capacitor or molecular displacement laser, a.k.a., Death Ray.
I respect these men and woman that devoted their time and intelligence to making something so fascinating possible. We have a huge robotic craft rolling around on another planet. In fact, we have two! That’s the kind of big brain stuff we need on Earth. I think we should put away all this petty squabbling about religion and politics and get back to what made our species the most dominant ever. Exploration. Discovery. Intelligence and perhaps a little profit.
I’m not advocating a whole Avatar thing and mining the resources from a distant habitated planet. (Seriously: unobtainium? C’mon). I do want us to stop thinking so small about our world and remember the universe is bigger than we can imagine. However, our collective imaginations do make it ever more reachable.