Kage Baker sang of Mars. Domestic ballads, mostly; folks songs. People mattered more to her than machines. Usually.
But she never met a Mars rover she didn’t like. She watched Spirit and Opportunity land, cheering with a star-spangled umbrella in her rum and coke. She followed their careers as closely and affectionately as if she were their Auntie. They inspired her personally.
Today, if the gods of going are kind, Curiosity will land on Mars. It will be only the 4th US rover to succeed, though we’ve sent nine. Mars eats observers, it appears. The Russians have tried 19 times, and never made it once. There are various theories – some funny, some blackly superstitious – around JPL, concerning just what it is that repels our spacecraft when they approach Mars.
But we never give up! And today, Curiosity lands! So go to your computers or your HD tellies tonight and watch the grand spectacle. NASA TV is broadcasting all day, and it’ll heat up a few hours before the anticipated ETA of 10:30 PM.
Be there! Be witness! This is one of the steps that leads to Mars I and Mars II, not to mention Mars 3 through ∞. And others: Marsport, Lake Lowell, Percivalville and that jewel of Barsoom: Helium.
I lay this geas upon you, Dear Readers: sit and watch, with me in spirit, while Curiosity lands on Mars tonight.
Bingo. It’s landed! Yay!
In truth, I hadn’t the heart to witness whatever may have happened last night, real-time. Must be a left-over nerve from my Lockheed days.
I raise my coffee mug and salute Curiosity!
Hummm … that could be a t-shirt, or bumper sticker: “Salute Curiosity!”
Excuse me while I grab a fine tipped sharpy and a clean, blank t-shirt.
I watched. It was awesome. I couldn’t get to sleep until I roughed out a blog post about it, which I finalized and posted this morning. In terms of the Olympics, Curiosity totally stuck that landing.
It was the most perfect landing i can recall – even with that crazy sky crane, which even the engineers who designed it thought was an insane idea. And getting that first picture back within mere minutes – just astonishing. I’ve been watching the Olympics (from time to time) and seen truly remarkable feats of human strength – but this, THIS, is bigger and more important. And for the ages.
As my friends and relations range down in range to not quite a year, I have hopes that someone I know will yet walk on Mars. As I have always wanted to do.