In a brief burst on NPR this morning between uninteresting blurbs, I learned that NASA's new Mars rover, Curiosity, is expected to touch down on Mars this weekend. From the Washington Post coverage:
It’s the most ambitious, the most costly ($2.5 billion) and the most high-stakes mission ever to another planet. It was also described last week by the agency’s top scientist, former astronaut John M. Grunsfeld, as “the most important NASA mission of the decade.”
I watched Carl Sagan's COSMOS religiously as a kid, and still revisit the show every few years. In the episode "Blues for a Red Planet," Sagan imagined a future where millions of people would be glued to their television sets, watching through camera eyes as robots explore Mars. Sadly, that hasn't come to pass - yet. I'll be keeping fingers crossed for Curiosity - I still haven't given up on the possibility of life on Mars. OK, so maybe no thoats or tarks or red princesses...but it would be cool if there were something there.
Here's a good article about it.