What a piece of work is Man.
For the most part, human beings are terrible. Greedy, horny, messy, brutal, selfish, gluttonous, smelly naked monkeys, responsible for such disasters as the Western Front in WWI, the BP oil spill and every “Real Housewives of.” Like Agent Smith tells Neo, we’re not really mammals as much as we’re a virus.
But at the same time, we are capable of creating works of incredible beauty. Engineering marvels that seem beyond the capacity of the times in which they were built. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Great Pyramids. The Rose Window at Notre Dame Cathedral. The 46 Defense. And the Rover Perseverance, which landed safely on the surface of Mars today, might be one of our species’ greatest accomplishments.
I watched a show on NatGeo last night about the making of this miracle of science last night. And how the team which built it were in a race against time to perfect it for launch. Because it’s the first of three missions, if they did not hit their launch window, they’d have to wait 26 months for the next one. Pushing the other missions back and costing $500 million. But had they gotten it ready on time but it couldn’t perform all its functions, it would be much worse. No pressure, though.
If you can’t watch this whole video, skip to about the 8 minute mark whether it explains how this machine will take soil samples, place them into test tubes and leave them in a designated spot for a later rover to pick up and launch into orbit to be sent back to Earth. And how it comes equipped with its own drone. Which is no small feat since the Martian atmosphere is 1% as dense as our own. Mostly watch go see how, if there’s any sign of ancient life on the Red Planet, Perseverance will find it. And if there happens to be any extraterrestrial life watching, I think this rolling spacebot represents the best of us.
I was never cool enough in school to give any grief to the STEM kids. But if you picked on the mathletes, you owe them an apology.