Bonny Marcel writes from Houston: American space agency NASA has put a robot called Curiosity on Mars. They say it’s there to tell us if life once existed on the Red Planet. The whole exercise costs several billion Earth dollars. All of that going on confirming that no life exists on Mars. And probably never had existed.
Don’t they know I could have done that for $40 a day plus expenses? Maybe no one would have cared a bucket of rocks what I think, but tell me how many people are going to get all excited about what could have happened on Mars zillions of years back? If they actually believe it anyway.
Now I happen to know (because I read it in the Inquirer, I think) that Elvis lives in an abandoned B52 on the dark side of the moon (a great rock title there for someone?). I also happen to know (because I’m told on average authority that Spielberg was thinking of making a film about it) that Marilyn did not die but leads a quiet life learning a little Serbo Croat and doing marshmallow recipes just in the next crater to The King.
You see where we are? These are credibles. We all do credibles. NASA spends $billions and maybe no one says why? Now me, I’m excited by the imagery sent back from Curiosity via the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I loved the black and white picture of Curiosity’s front off-side wheel. Truthfully, I have never seen a robot’s front off-side anywhere, never mind on Mars. Did you know that NASA control at the JPL in Pasadena, California, had to upload computer commands to the spacecraft about three days prior to pressing the camera button? Well did you? I guess they must be using the same broadband provider as me.
Anyway, how do these guys plan to get evidence of any life? They say it could take two years? I’ve got a nephew whose mother says he’s a genius who for the past two years has not shown any sign of life other than constant texting. So I’m sure waiting to get patched into the technique.
But there is an upside to all this. I’m not sure that bit isn’t done. Did you know that Mars is sometimes 250 million kilometres from earth? I say ‘it’s sometimes’ because at other times it’s only around 60 million kilometres. Why, you ask? Because they are in elliptical orbits so they get close and then they go away again – or something similar. My point I suppose is that Mars is a really long way away and this little robot about the size of a family automobile weighing a ton has travelled millions of kilometres and taken months to get there and then is neatly parked some place called Gale Crater within two centimetres of where the Pasadena guys said it would be.
Now that makes me tingle. That’s not only clever. We are, as is broadly agreed, fouling up this planet Earth. Maybe our children’s children’s children are going to have to do what the founding fathers did: get out to some place new. Curiosity and the NASA folk say that’s doable.
All highly unlikely. Easier to clean up this place instead. But just suppose Elvis got it right. I trust his instincts. Maybe he knew all along that Kyoto wouldn’t work. Yes, I think he may just have done that. The Moon? Easy compared with Mars. The Dark Side? Pink Floyd said it was possible. Stay with it, Pasadena. Keep sending the signals, but take a tip from one who knows: best switch your ISP, okay?