by R. J. Forman
Remember when people got excited about space exploration?
If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a little too young to remember those days.
However, there was a time when a landing on the moon was the top of the newscasts.
Those days are gone.
It’s an ugly day in the news.
It’s an ugly day in the news every day.
Even when the news wires seem bereft of ugliness, the media go ahead and turn anything they can ugly for the monetary benefits of spectacle.
Lots of ugly stories about just how terrible the human species can be to each other and other earthly creatures crawling across the headlines: death, torture, politics….
But in space things are pretty cool.
For instance, NASA announced Thursday, Sept. 18 that it is extending the Phoenix Mars mission.
That little space craft is up there on Mars digging trenches near the Martian North Pole.
Good for Phoenix!
The three-legged spacecraft has been at it since May 25th.
Phoenix was supposed to wrap up at the end of this month but NASA Spokesman Dwayne Brown said the space agency will invest about $6 million to keep the exploration going through December.
The spacecraft is digging through the dirt to see whether the site could have been favorable for microbial life to emerge.
When Phoenix launched for and landed on Mars it got a small mention on all the television newscasts. We haven’t really heard much about the probe since. So I’m telling you now, it’s up there plugging along and they’re going to keep him digging for awhile longer.
Phoenix is the first craft to touch Martian ice with its robotic arm.
So let’s take a moment away from the ugly, look to the sky, and celebrate Phoenix and its extended time on Mars…where the space probe will eventually retire and turn into a weather station.
(The graphic is an artist's rendering of the Phoenix Mars Lander descending; the graphic is from NASA and therefore in the public domain. To see a short video of views of Mars from the Phoenix, please check below.)
Phoenix Mars Lander
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by R. J. Forman