In this day and age, so many years after the first man in space, first moon landing, first supersonic flight, first test tube baby I forget that just once in a while, there is still the occasion when we manage to turn science fiction into science. I was reading BBC, and was reminded that Curiosity is to land on Mars, on I quote, “Monday 6 August, at six o’clock, 30 minutes and 13 seconds. British time” Britain and a good part of the world will be obsessed with that sports show the Oi-limp-icks which I don’t give a crap about since it’s all commercial anyways these days. I will be obsessing about the landing of Curiosity – wondering if those NASA boffins can pull this one out of their ass and get their complex landing system to actually put this Mini-Cooper sized robot down in one piece.
Consider this video – if you have not seen it, is well worth watching for it’s elegance in showing the complex nature of this robot’s transition from free-flight in space to being on Martius firma, all in six minutes, where every last planned event has to go off exactly as planned to get this 2.5 billion dollar 1 ton beast on the ground, ready for it’s next journey:
You could consider this a piece of science fiction, speculation on what might happen – someday. But that day is coming, August 6th to be precise, and if everyone converted their American Imperial to Metric properly this time, we might actually get to see the results some some extraordinary science being done for the very first time. Lest we forget, Opportunity is still doing amazing science, now beginning it’s 9th year of operation on Mars. Some people’s cars don’t last that long. This robot is our eyes on another world formerly imagined – now being seen from above and on the ground for real.
I hope that NASA can keep turning science fiction into science.