I watched the preliminary reports of the Mars Rover landing with my 6 month-old and his bottle. My first thought was, considering achievements such as this, where would we be as a species if we did not feel it necessary to devote so many assets to our own intra-species self defense. On the brighter side, I wonder what awesome accomplishments my kids will see unfold while giving their children midnight feedings.

14 thoughts on “Amazing!”

  1. Has anyone esle but me noticed the irony of the successful US mars lander coming less than two weeks after a similar European mission ending in humilation. The juxtaposition of another American space triumph contrasted with the Europeans digging an X million Euro foxhole on the surface of Mars is just too juicy to pass up. Why don’t they put that money into defense rather than waste it on space exploration, and leave that mission to the pros at NASA.

  2. Those “Pros” at NASA really managed to screw the same pooch four years ago. If you’ll remember, that was when we lost two probes (Climate Orbiter, and Polar Lander), due to human incompetence. I’d make fun of the Euro’s problems, but at least their orbiters made it, which is more than we could say four years ago.

    NASA’s still another bloated government program, just like the ESA, and we spend a lot more on space than Europe does.

    Still, it was pretty damn cool watching the first pictures come in from the lander. And there’s nothing better than watching scores of nerds at JPL jump with glee.

  3. Yeah, at least one of those previous US failures mentioned by Capt. Mojo was due to a feet/meters unit mismatch.

    I’m very tired of the bloated socialist bureaucracy that is NASA pissing away my childhood dreams of space. Why the hell we continue to think that that is a valid way to do anything when we’ve proven over and over again in other fields that it isn’t is beyond me.

    Thank JFK for derailing the X-programs that were getting us there the right way.

  4. where would we be as a species if we did not feel it necessary to devote so many assets to our own intra-species self defense?

    Most of the technological breakthroughs that make the Mars Rover missions possible owe much of their existence to military conflict in the last century. From the Wright Military Flyer to codebreaking and targeting computers, radio and radar, the V-1 rocket, Sputnik and the Space Race, the microprocessor, DARPA projects like autonomous robots and the Internet, the list goes on and on.

  5. I’m no fan of NASA either, but the Shuttle and Space Station are far bigger wastes of money than the planetary program could ever be. Besides, it is fun to watch — I was in high school when Viking 1 landed, and clearly remember watching TV as the first pictures came back on the morning of Tue 20 Jul 76 (7th anniversary of Apollo 11!) — so I figure I’m allowed to enjoy it. And I helped pay for this one.

    Technically, however, the Stardust flyby of Comet P/Wild 2 was more impressive, having less precedent — and those pictures have a spooky/ethereal look, by comparison with which Mars looks downright normal.

  6. Regarding David’s comment that military research has led to a number of breakthroughs, that is certainly true, but isn’t it a broken window fallacy? If we didn’t have to spend money on military research for defense purposes, that money wouldn’t just sit there and do nothing. It would be spent on something else, and there is no necessary reason why this something else couldn’t lead to just as many interesting breakthroughs as does military spending.

  7. I do believe I was 3 years old when men first set foot on the moon. I vaguely remember it, although it’s an important memory for me anyway.

    Every time I think of how much time we’ve fizzled away dithering since then I get sad.

  8. When will the “Boyz” acquire a spacecraft for their arsenal?

    I found Zubrin’s The Case for Mars a convincing approach to interplanetary exploration. Basically, he asserts that a modular mission, sending separate vehicles for fuel creation on the planet, living quarters, return vehicle, etc.. would be far cheaper than a superfreighter type ship built in orbit.

    I’m really looking forward to the upcoming color pics. Maybe they’ll find a fossil? And if there IS life on Mars, don’t you think they’d be pissed off by now for all the 100 million dollar junk we’ve been slinging onto their planet in recent years?


  9. Friggin’ Martians shooting down our equipment.

    The last Gridley Wave broadcasts from the dying world came in circa 1940. They are kept in a secret vault in the Pentagon. They show that John Carter’s regime, which tried to impose unitary rule planet-wide to prevent final ecological catastrophe, did not succeed. The Jeddak of Jeddaks failed in the end to prevent the destruction of the Barsoomian polar air plant. He and Dejah Thoris died holding hands amidst the barbaric splendor of the Warlord’s palace, as the oxygen failed. So the twin cities of Helium are no more, the aero-fleets are forever swept from the (now nearly airless) Martian skies, all the banths and thoats and even the ochre moss are dead, the canals are filled with drifting sand, etc.

    But there are still a few dead-enders living in pressurized, underground cities — 18 foot tall, four-armed green guys. These remnants of the hordes of Thark and other former steppe-rovers, are all that remain, and even they are dwindling away. But these survivors still have expertise with their super-accurate rifles, with ranges of hundreds of kilometers, which fire small explosive shells. No doubt they were the ones who took out those two landers.

    They put their trust in an earthman once.

    Never again.

  10. I’m afraid that the range of their weaponry is much greater than “hundreds of kilometers.”

    Mars Observer was “lost” (well, that’s what they WANT us to think) three days out from the planet, which works out to 600,000 kilometers. A direct hit on the fuel line, from 1½ times the distance from the Earth to the Moon!

    This sort of thing greatly complicates our conquest of the Solar System. Mars may have to be bombarded by asteroids as a prophylactic measure.

  11. Regarding David’s comment that military research has led to a number of breakthroughs, that is certainly true, but isn’t it a broken window fallacy?

    Oh, I wasn’t saying that we should engage in military conflict to accelerate the rate of technological progress. Military conflict led to the Mars Rovers, but at the cost of over 100M lives and at the risk of global nuclear war. You’d have to be a barking moonbat mad scientist to say that was a net gain.

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