Sunday, January 31, 2010

Martian Media

This final weekend of January 2010, we have enjoyed a so-called Wolf Moon. This occurs when the moon is at perigee – its closest approach to earth in its elliptical orbit – and is full at the same time. It usually happens once a year. Sometimes it happens twice. This weekend, Mars also is easier than usual to spot, since it shines brightly and ruddily just to the left of the moon.

Looking at the objects Friday reminded me of the Phoenix Lander, which NASA has been trying to wake up for a couple weeks. Phoenix sits near the north pole of Mars where it has conducted geologic (areologic?) studies for the past two earth years. With the arrival of the Martian winter 5 months ago, the lander’s operations were shut down. Phoenix wasn’t expected to survive the winter, and apparently it hasn’t. NASA will continue to send instructions for a while.

The craft did the field work for which it was designed. What is more, it took the opportunity to say “Hi” to the Martians. Yes really. On the photo of the lander, what is the object to the left of the little flag that looks like a DVD? It is a DVD. It contains science fiction stories and artwork with Martian themes, as well as the names of a quarter million humans (without their cell phone numbers, which seems to me an oversight.)

One only can guess what the Martians will make of their depiction in the Terran media. Let’s hope they’re more amused than insulted. Perhaps the next DVD we send (high def, of course) should be more about earth. I wouldn't advise including any cheesecake photos though. I saw Mars Needs Women (1967) and know what can happen.


1 comment:

  1. That's great. A DVD for the Martians. Maybe they will be miniature, like the ones in "The Phantom Planet".