Sunday, January 25, 2004

"Why Mars?" Well, why not!

I've been forgetting to link this fine op-ed about the "new space initiative" (which, in turn, comes via A Voyage to Arcturus) for about a week now. A representative graf:

It really is a good idea to go back to the moon and onward to Mars, for reasons so long-term that they barely get mentioned in the usual debates: the survival of the human race and contact with extraterrestrial life. The payoff on these two issues, if it ever comes, is probably at least several centuries in the future -- but they are still important issues.

I confess that I'm less convinced now that the President meant what he said two weeks ago, mostly in light of his failure to even devote a single sentence to the thing at the State of the Union -- if it was as important as he'd previously said it was, surely he'd have mentioned it to the Congress and the entire country. Still, here's hoping.

In other news from the Martian front, the Opportunity Rover has landed on the red planet and begun sending back its own pictures. (Maybe the operative verb there should be "bounced" or even "boinged"?) This one they put down in a place where the terrain isn't the rock-strewn flatlands so familiar from the Spirit, Pathfinder, and even the Viking missions. (This story, by the way, features a very goofy headline: "Rover Reveals Alien Mars". could there be anything but an "alien" Mars?)

And finally, if you want to make your very own Mars rover, the fine folks at Lego have you covered:

Just stir some red paint into the nearest sandbox, wind this baby up, and it's hours of fun for the whole family!

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