Three Hundred Million Miles Later

I remember many years ago when I were a wee laddy, that going into space was a big deal. Not up there with landing-on-the-moon-big, but still big. People used to watch Shuttle launches, I remember when we flew towards a comet to investigate that (I even remember I had a broken leg at the time!) and I remember where I was when Challenger exploded.

Today, it's almost sad that we send people up into space to spend months living on a space station, and no one bats an eyelid.  People, re-read that sentence. We are sending people into space. To live on a Space Station!

HOW can that not be cool, interesting, amazing and fascinating?!

So this morning, we managed to land on Mars. MARS. A whole 'nother planet. Granted, yes, we've done it a few times before - some amazingly well, some... erm... not-so-well. Today, we landed using a whole mess of technology and ingenuity and know-how, and went from something zipping through space at a thousands of miles an hour, to a complete stop in a few minutes.

And THEN we used a fricking interplanetary crane to plonk the rover on the surface without a scratch.

From several hundred million miles away.

If you don't get what I am saying, you need to watch this video, the Seven Minutes of Terror - and you have to watch it with sound AND in full screen:

I mean, seriously?! How is that not amazing?!

And yet, most of the eyes of the world seem to be on what is essentially a glorified sports day... A man ran really fast. Good for him - he's worked hard for it, he's gotten his body to the peak of physical excellence... But he's running. One hundred meters. Quickly.

Kellie said this morning, "surely the cost of sending this thing into space would have been better spent on medicine or homelessness" and I agree - the cost of sending this thing into space, through space, and onto the surface of another planet was $2.5billion. That's a lot of money.

The Olympics? As of last month, it was at $14.8billion.


For the cost of the Olympics, we could have gone to Mars almost six more times.

Some might ask what the point is... And that's fair enough. For one, if we're going to go to Mars, we need to know what it's like, so there's that. Second, the science that has gone into this thing is properly high-tech, and over the coming years, it will benefit us in whatever ways it is applied by filtering down. Just like Microwaves, Nuclear Power, Medicine - I don't know what will come of it, but it will be something.

If people are willing to scream and cheer human achievement in a physical sense - he ran fast, she swam strongly - then surely the great minds that have just landed on Mars should be screamed and cheered for also?

Personally, I am amazed that such stuff is possible, and can't wait to see what comes back from the little chap trundling around on the surface of Mars.

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One Response to “Three Hundred Million Miles Later”

InsomniacMedic said...

Dammit man, I'm still amazed that a Jumbo lifts off the ground, leave alone all the space stuff!!! :)