Wednesday, February 11, 2004

A Hole in One on Mars

It looks like the Mars rover Opportunity actually scored a hole in one. This photo shows that Opportunity floated down and bounced across a flat barren plain before finally landing in a shallow crater . . . one of only a few on an otherwise unbroken surface.

The end result is something far more exciting than a Superbowl halftime show and now that the rover has climbed over the rim of the crater you can actually see where the parachute landed off in the distance.

We can now get up close to the rocky outcrop and see with our own eyes if the rocks are sedimentary or not. You decide, here is a remarkable closeup look.

One unmistakable characteristic of these photos is that Mars looks inconceivably lonely. How much better it is to explore this forbidding place remotely. I feel like I'm exploring it directly without any astronaut middleman to disturb the solitude.

I'm sure I'm of the minority opinion but wouldn't having live people walking around this landscape and delivering pithy remarks sort of devalue the whole experience? I'm intrigued by the idea that no one has been here yet. For me the Moon holds no interest for me . . . it's been done. So has Mt. Everest and the Titanic and just about every possible square inch of land on Earth.

But Mars is still pristine. Even the garbage looks great. And each day is a new adventure with new pictures.

This is tax revenue well spent!

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