American scientists continue to prove the notion that the
U. S. government just wastes money
placing a machine on the surface of Mars that will rove around and take
NASA’s rover Curiosity touched down deep in a Martian crater early Monday after a picture-perfect descent and landing, beginning what promises to be one of the most ambitious planetary missions in history.
Jubilant NASA engineers and scientists let out a loud and prolonged whoop when the data came in indicating that the one-ton rover had touched down. It remains unknown exactly what shape the $2.5 billion rover is in, but the fact that it survived its “seven minutes of terror” descent was cheered like the grandest Olympic triumph.
Yes, it did cost $2.5 billion (and counting) but surely it was worth it.
The descent and touchdown were tracked by the Mars orbiter Odyssey, which allowed Curiosity to send black-and-white “fisheye” (wide-angle) images within minutes of the rover’s wheels on the ground. Two hours later, Odyssey passed over again and relayed other more highly defined images, including one that appeared to show the distant rim of the Gale Crater landing site.
Uh, The Dismal Political Economist is just as enthusiastic as everyone else about a federal government with a trillion dollar deficit spending billions on a space program with absolutely no value except to send back pictures from Mars. But really, black and white fisheye pictures. Look, for about $75.00 you can get a nice 10 megapixel camera at K-Mart that will take nice color pictures. Sorry NASA, black and white went out in 1967.
Okay, enough with the bitter sarcasm, what about the real scientific purpose of the project?
Described by top NASA officials as their “mission of the decade,” the just-delivered rover will search for the building blocks of extraterrestrial life as well as investigate how and why Mars turned from a wet and warm planet into the dry and cold place it is now.
Great, now millions of men and women can sleep soundly, knowing that the fundamental question of this generation, namely why did Mars turn dry and cold, may be answered. Is it too late to tell NASA that Wikipedia already had the answer, that Mars turned cold and dry because it went through a midlife crisis.