Monday, August 6, 2012

The Romance of Mars

The Curiosity rover has landed safely on Mars, evading the "Mars Curse" that so often seems to plague spacecraft sent to that planet. Great news (especially at a moment when so much other news has been dreadful) and I look forward to years of new findings and images.

There was a time when it seemed as if the exploration of Mars, however exciting, had snatched away the romantic desert world of Burroughs, Brackett, Bradbury and others and replaced it with something barren and lifeless. I suppose Mars as we see it today still qualifies as "barren and lifeless," but once we started getting imagery of the surface, the romance started creeping back in.

Image taken by Viking 2 lander in 1976. Source: Wikimedia Commons
And then came these brave-seeming robotic characters -- Sojourner, Opportunity, Curiosity. They're not exactly John Carter of Mars, but they do inspire a sense of adventure. Good luck, Curiosity (and all the dedicated human beings behind you.)

EDIT: Removed hypertext link to Viking 2 image and added the actual picture to the post.

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