Monday was a real red letter day for NASA (You see what I did there?). Their nuclear powered discovery vehicle, the aptly named ‘Curiosity‘ has not only managed to land on Mars but it has sent it’s first pictures back. Pretty exciting stuff and it’s guaranteed to pique the interest of every ‘wanna-be’ astronaut and space scientist the world over.
NASA is also one step closer to building that ‘giant’ rocket that will be necessary to send bigger payloads up into space. With a projected launch date of 2017, it’s beginning to look like a manned mission to Mars might just happen in my life time.
It’s about time.
NASA, like everyone else, has suffered from the world-wide funding problems that plague us all. The space program has had some pretty devastating cutbacks in recent history and they are now moving ahead at ‘warp-speed’ to catch up.
With the world concentrating on the 2012 London Olympics and daily bad news updates of scandal, shootings and subterfuge it’s nice that outer space issues can still generate interest.
Most importantly, this Mars landing is a benchmark event. The next step will be, of course, a manned flight. If we can send folks to Mars and it turns out that we can use the planet as a ‘stepping stone’ to the rest of the galaxy, how wondrous would that be. We could literally explore, in person, the rest of the galaxy and the universe.
I can still remember the first moon landing in 1969. I was eleven and my brother was about three or four. We all watched this momentous event on my parent’s huge Curtis-Mathis entertainment centre. My father was, if you’ll pardon the expression, over the moon. He told us about one of his school teachers, Mrs. Jones.
She had told all her students that man would one day walk on the moon in his quest to conquer the stars. Needless to say, way back in the early 1940′s this was an almost heretical view. Man had only really come to grips with aeroplanes and jets were just making their appearance known towards the end of WWII. She was called ‘crazy old Mrs. Jones.’
My father said that she was fairly old (although to a child, anyone over the age of thirty is old) when he was a child, but he hoped that she had lived long enough to see the landing and to hear those historical words. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.“
I like to think that she saw and heard her vision come true as well.
It was ‘crazy old Mrs Jones’ that I instantly thought of when the Curiosity sent back her first low resolution pictures of Mars surface. I can only hope that I live long enough to see the first manned flight land on Mars.
- NASA reveals Curiosity descent video and new Mars photos (slashgear.com)
- Caught on Camera: America’s Curiosity Landing on Mars (cnsnews.com)
- NASA Sends First Images of Rover on Mars (nytimes.com)
- Images of Mars landing show “exciting ride,” NASA says (fox6now.com)
- Mars rover: Curiosity’s landing, as told through Twitter (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Curiosity Lands on Mars: NASA’s Behind the Scenes Images (mashable.com)
- Nasa Mars Landing: live blog (telegraph.co.uk)
- Images of Mars landing show “exciting ride,” NASA says (cnn.com)
- The World Reacts to Curiosity’s Mars Landing (pcmag.com)
- ‘Mohawk Guy’ of Mars mission has Seattle connection (king5.com)
- Curiosity Lands On Mars: 10 Amazing Facts – InformationWeek (informationweek.com)
- F*ck yes! Curiosity lands on Mars! (leilabattison.wordpress.com)
- Today, science willing, Curiosity rover lands on Mars. Here’s how to watch. (boingboing.net)