Headline Muse, 9/27

It’s a robot—not woman, nor man
And it’s doing the best that it can
Like its pictures, that showed
Where the water once flowed,
Making up an alluvial fan

Headline: Streams Of Water Once Flowed On Mars: NASA Says Photos Prove It

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

“You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan,” NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

No, no, no. They are missing the big picture.

I am alive at a point in history when humans have sent a fucking robot to fucking Mars, where it is doing experiments and taking pictures and answering questions that weren’t even questions until at most just a couple of generations ago. It was just over a century ago that the notion of canals on Mars was cutting edge science.

Everything about this is wonderful. Everything about this is cool. Everything about this is the future. Everything about this is making the science fiction of my childhood obsolete in the best possible way.

Again, I am forced to wonder, what will be next? Will this eventually be seen as the space equivalent of the Model T? Or the Mars equivalent of Apollo 11? Is this the beginning of much more, or a high-water mark not to be matched in our lifetime?

The choice, really, is ours.


  1. Cuttlefish says

    As one of my favorite people reminds me, we can’t be done yet–we have yet to have the first woman on the moon! (She wants to be that woman, and I cannot imagine a better.)

  2. rq says

    Why not by-pass the Moon and go straight to Mars? :)
    In all seriousness, it just needs to be done – the Moon, Mars, more of the solar system… (I almost said ‘galaxy’ but realized how large it is… But heck, why not? More of the galaxy, too!!!)

    I read this Mars water news in the local media and then read some of the comments. Didn’t know reading comments on science articles could also fry your brain (conspiracy theorists and religious freaks). I’m pretty sure none of them will ever enroll in any science program (good thing, too), leaving the wide expanse of undiscovered territory at the mercy of those who can and will. :)

  3. Crudely Wrott says

    Why go back to the moon? Well,

    It’s easy to get to and we already know how.
    It is a solid place on which a person can stand and build things in an environment that is essentially the same as empty space itself.
    It could be a useful staging area for more ambitious exploration.
    It has a side that faces away from the earth providing an environment free from earthly radio interference. Perfect for radio astronomy. The instruments can be more lightly constructed and supported in the low gravity.
    It is almost completely unexplored and therefore its potential usefulness is unknown.
    It has Lagrangian points that are easily accessible from the lunar surface.
    It has raw materials that are known to be useful for building things useful for living off earth. For that matter on earth.
    It is much easier to move mass from the moon to the earth than the reverse.
    Because its surface is exposed to the raw environment of space it is a perfect laboratory to research and perfect long term exposure to space without the confinement, maintainence and expense of constantly orbiting vehicles.

    Surely by now you could think of some more reasons?

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