I know there are several of you who think you have the best child ever, but my 10-year-old bought this for my birthday, so your argument is invalid.
When people scoff at sending humans to Mars, and say that pictures of wheel marks on a red desert are not worth the trouble when there are so many things here at home that we could be spending money on, it makes me claustrophobic. It’s as if we’re trying, out of guilt or shame, to crawl back into the cave and watch the shadows on the wall. We’re trying to stay children in our parents’ house, knowing that the road leads to town, and then to another town. We’re saying, “Look, we made a really great toilet that flushes itself! Remember that printing press? That was pretty neat. We even made pyramids — those things are huge! Can’t we just be happy with making a great toilet even greater? Do we really have to go to Mars?”
But Mars is waiting. It spins now outside our human reach. We must realize that the work of growing up is not something we can cut when the budget gets tight. It is mission critical, for the intellectual life of the species, for the future of humans, not to stagnate, not to wither, but to stretch, and reach, and always to expand.
— Lydia Netzer
This is an awesome Op-Ed and all of you should go read it.
President’s Signature Onboard Curiosity
This view of Curiosity’s deck shows a plaque bearing several signatures of US officials, including that of President Obama and Vice President Biden. The image was taken by the rover’s Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) during the rover’s 44th Martian day, or sol, on Mars (Sept. 19, 2012). The plaque is located on the front left side of the rover’s deck.
The rectangular plaque is made of anodized aluminum and measures 3.94 inches (100 millimeters) tall by 3.23 inches (82 millimeters) wide. The plaque was affixed to the rover’s deck with four bolts.
Similar plaques with signatures — including those of the sitting president and vice-president — adorn the lander platforms for NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which landed on Mars in January of 2004. An image from Spirit’s plaque can be found at PIA05034.
The main purpose of Curiosity’s MAHLI camera is to acquire close-up, high-resolution views of rocks and soil at the rover’s Gale Crater field site. The camera is capable of focusing on any target at distances of about 0.8 inch (2.1 centimeters) to infinity, providing versatility for other uses, such as views of the rover itself from different angles.
There is now a 1909 U.S. penny on Mars.