As The Wall Street Journal reported, “The one ton, $2.5 billion Curiosity is the most scientifically equipped probe ever sent to another planet. And when the robot rover touches down on Sunday, it will begin an intensive search” for signs of life on the 51st U.S. state — oops, I mean Mars!
The Mars-bound spacecraft has reduced its speed to 8,900 miles per hour as it nears approach, and is on schedule for touchdown on the Red Planet at 1:31 a.m. East / 10:31 p.m. Pacific.
TO GET ABRASIVELY POLITICAL ON YOU for a moment, since I am running for U.S. Congress, please consider:
- NASA’s budget is only about double that of the TSA, and NASA only has one-third the employees that TSA has… That’s right, one agency explores the deep reaches of our solar system with nuclear-powered robotic spacecraft, and the other agency gropes air travellers — yet the TSA gets three times the staff as NASA. Not right.
- America’s space program is not just a prestige project. It is a tremendous economic multiplier, leading to numerous other innovations in the private sector and keeping our brightest people gainfully employed— engaged in worthwhile projects other than investment banking and developing iPhone apps. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those activities, but 100 years from now they won’t be talking about Instagram in the history books. They will, however, reserve a space for the Mars Curiosity lander and whatever it finds.
- I’d prefer to see us build space probes instead of domestic spy drones. I think the space program is in keeping with our ideals and pioneering spirit, whereas creepy/expensive police state programs seem to be a misuse of America’s tremendous technological muscle.
If you are, like me, killing some time until the landing… be sure to watch this brief, beautiful homage to NASA:
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