August 2, 2012

Curiosity


Were you aware that a robot will land on Mars this Sunday? I've been asking people this all day, and only my record store owner friend had heard about it. I learned of it just yesterday. As you may recall, this is the initiative Black Bush spearheaded when the heat was on about the the lies that lead us into Iraq (Mars, bitches!"). The robot took off from Earth in a rocket right around Thanksgiving last year, and it's just about to land. You can watch it land live on your computer, starting at 11:30 Eastern Time.

I wish everyone were talking about this. It's the most advanced interplanetary landing engineering feat humans have ever attempted.

They shot the rocket out of the flat swamps of Florida, and when it got up into the dark of space, it shot out a disk, sort of like a flying saucer, and the craft took off toward a spot in the Solar System where Mars would be, eight months later. At several points during the journey, scientists pressed buttons on Earth and jet blasts fired out of flying saucer's sides, nudging it in the right direction, so it would land in a crater, at the base of a three-mile-high mountain on the Red Planet. As it nears its destination, it will shed a disk of shiny solar panels into the vastness of space. Jet propulsion blasts will then push the robot vessel toward Mars and it will enter the planet's atmosphere at an angle and flames will engulf it, but the atmosphere will be too thin to slow it from full-on space-speed to safe-landing speed, so the robot will take over and unfurl an enormous, silvery parachute. But that still won't be enough to slow it, so the robot will detach itself from the flying saucer and, with rocket blasters, move quickly to the side and out of the way of the crashing flying saucer shell and the shiny parachute that trails behind. Then the rocket jets will slowly lower the robot toward the surface. But it won't land, because the blast from the jets would cause a dust storm. So the robot will detach from the rocket pack and drop slowly to the surface on a long cable, sever the cord as it touches land, and the rocket pack will blast off into space. Once on the ground, the robot will lift its periscope head and look around and move toward the mountains. It'll shoot laser beams into the rocks and scoop dirt and send messages and pictures back to Earth for two years.

The video above shows all this in unhurried, un-narrated and wonderful detail. It's basically an eleven-minute-and-twenty-second CGI avante garde sci fi cinema masterpiece. If you like things to be more sensational, try this one:

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