Tuesday, August 05, 2008

When Are You Visiting Mars?

Full-Circle Color Panorama of Phoenix Landing Site on Northern Mars, Polar Projection_*

[*Full-Circle Color Panorama of Phoenix Landing Site on Northern Mars, Polar Projection - courtesy NASA. ]

Exciting Times Lie Ahead

That water is available on Mars is now old news. The buzz that has all space enthusiasts agog is the rumor that the team monitoring the wet-chemistry experiment - which the clumsy robots are working on out there on Mars - has stumbled upon some ground-breaking discovery related to the composition of Martian soil. And this time they have chosen to rush, not to the press, but to the White House to brief the folks about it. All news is - uncharacteristically - being kept under covers, apparently till further analyses corroborates whatever it is they have come across. While the rumor is being actively sought to be squashed, a sneak peek is scheduled for today, August 5, 2008, 11 am PDT, at a teleconference organized by NASA for the media.


[*Uni. Of Arizona Video footage on the Phoenix mission.]

Expect the reports coming through over the next few weeks to oscillate between "Yes, the planet is hospitable for human life" and "No; the planet is not hospitable for us yet to go there, settle down, fall in love, get married and then get divorced, raise children and die". I am skeptical about the latter. Skeptical not about the settling/loving/marrying/divorcing/dying part, oh we are past masters at all this, but about the 'no' part. Going by our record of the past couple of millennia, if the planet is not hospitable; well, we will make it hospitable. If the environment is harsh, we will modify it to suit our tastes and comfort and lifestyle. We will create the right ecosystem where we can subsist and then do all that we always do... you know - the settling down, the falling in love, etc, oh no, no need to worry about non-hospitability.

After Rasping by Phoenix in 'Snow White' Trench, Sol 60_*

[* NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander used the motorized rasp on the back of its robotic arm scoop during the mission's 60th Martian day, or sol, (July 26, 2008) to penetrate a hard layer at the bottom of a trench informally called "Snow White." This view, taken by the lander's Surface Stereo Imager and presented in approximately true color, shows the trench later the same sol. Image and text courtesy - NASA.]

Wonder how we would react if one of these missions were to discover some living being stalking the planet? Surely, we have evolved, no?, from the time when we had fled from our homes upon listening on the radio that the Martians had landed? When we rushed to the churches to pray to the almighty to save the world as we knew it from the aliens, never mind that the world has already gone to the dogs, and ask for forgiveness and absolutions of our sins, since "we are all going to die anyways"?

Orson Welles_*

[* Orson Welles at work, delivering a running commentary of the events of the "landing of Martians" in Van Nest Park, New Jersey, on October 30, 1938. The warring Martians moved swiftly within the span of the next few minutes to lay siege to the entire United States. Poor things, they finally succumbed to the humble and unassuming bacteria pervading the air on Earth. Imagine, the humble and unassuming bacteria coming to the rescue of mighty mankind!]

'Martians, Go Home'_*

[* 'Martians, Go Home' - a science fiction novel written by Fredric Brown. ]

Evolved souls that we are, jaded spirits that we have become, this time around the first and foremost action we would do would be to rush to create a new page on Wikipedia to record for posterity the historic event! The paparazzi will leave the harassed celebrities alone for a while and strain with their cameras and listening devices to capture images of this wonderful being who is not one of us. Uh, they would be the first to catch the next flight to Mars! The TV, news channels, papers, internet, all the popular shows, will have for a few days nothing but the latest byte about the Martians.

image by clix, sxc.hu

The team in charge of the Mars project will become celebrities in their own right, with their spouses, kids, siblings, distant relatives and pals, even their pet dogs and cats getting full limelight. They will even have the opportunity to appear on Oprah Winfrey and Larry King Shows - the ultimate, I am told, in celebrityhood! And the blogs. Especially the blogs, will have their own take on the Martian, with every blogger worth their salt giving an opinion from all possible angles, three sixty degree and beyond, about what to do with this thing in our midst. We bloggers do not miss any opportunity to speak our mind on anything under the sun, you see.

image by svilen001, sxc.hu

Philosophers and sociologists and other intellectuals amongst us would present papers on the best way of establishing contact with this representative from a new and unknown society with unknown culture and unknown style of living. A new branch in anthropology will come into being overnight; and people will churn out tomes after best-seller tomes of absorbing content with Martian society as the theme. A new breed of "experts" would come out of nowhere, their beaming faces, arms folded across the chest, a halo please around the head, the mystical aura of a know-all Guru no less, looking at us from spanking new websites, giving us profound insights on what this all means to humanity as a whole.

image by tony26, sxc.hu

Suddenly, everybody would be busy! A new opportunity on the horizon, yet another way to make money and become famous! Martian trinkets and memorabilia, Martian music, Martian fashions... Let's cash in on the boom fellas, so much money waits to be made! Oh, what will I not do to be the first to shake hands - or whatever it is that they have in the name of "hands" - with the Martian, and have my photograph splashed all over the media!

image by zoofytheji, sxc.hu

Exciting times lie ahead. Let's get busy packing our bags for the next bus to the moon. So when are you coming?

image by isouthpawi, sxc.hu

Are you game for traveling to the moon? There is gold waiting for you out there! Here is another interesting take on the subject of celestial trips.

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