Sunday, August 5, 2012

Seven Minutes of Terror (Mars)

Wisdom Quarterly (COMMENTARY)
America, intent on keeping complex multicellular life on Mars a secret, will land on the red planet tonight. Far from inhospitable, the fallen planet and what remains of its culture are inviting. But the shortest distance to its surface is driving to El Segundo where a nondescript building holds a portal in the form of an elevator -- but that is above top secret. JPL (the Jet Propulsion Lab) in Pasadena has an expensive distraction in its Mars "Curiosity" rover project. Pasadena's KPCC/ is all over the story. Rather than showing archeological features or the strange and dangerous creatures (as mimicked in "John Carter"), the scientists will be careful to land this rover in yet another desolate area, a meteoric indentation in a desert.

Car-sized Mars rover "Curiosity" roaming deep crater (

It will -- if it can keep from burning up during the "seven minutes of terror" as it passes through the atmosphere -- look for water, nutrients, and maybe even traces of cellular life. Will its mission be sacrificed to discredit NASA/JPL's efforts to get us to Mars? Or will it be allowed to "succeed" and reveal the remnants of a soupy primordial sea now all brine and microfossils with a subterranean water store? Tune in tonight at 10:00 pm (PST) to find out!
Imagine landing a probe in the Sahara then telling the Venutians, "See, Earth is mostly sand." What's a Venutian to think in the face of photographic evidence? Just so, what are earthlings to think of Mars? (AFP)
Joe Palca and Jessica Stoller-Conrad (NPR)
Boeing Space CraftA rover poised for a Mars landing late Sunday night will explore higher and farther than any before. It's loaded down with experiments designed to test the rocks and atmosphere of Mars. Question 1: Was there ever life there?

KPCC reporters have been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet -- Curiosity -- prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online

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