At 06:32 BST the unmanned vehicle weighing in at around one tonne, named Curiosity by NASA, landed on Mars safely and sent back its first images to the engineers and scientists who had laboured together for the better part of a decade to see this happen. It was an extraordinary moment as the efforts of these hard working individuals were rewarded and everyone took time out to celebrate, cheer, high-five and hug each other. Even Curiosity stopped taking photos for a minute to send a tweet, as it boldly announced “I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!!”
As if it wasn’t amazing enough that Curiosity is on Mars and beginning its two year journey to discover if life was once present on Mars, the fact that it has embraced social media from another planet is absolutely astounding. In all seriousness, while it may not actually be the vehicle itself with a Twitter account, it is pretty interesting that social media has such a stronghold on our society that even Curiosity has an account set up to tweet us about Mars. I for one have just started following the Mars Rover and highly recommend you all do the same.
It is an exciting chapter in human history, where mankind has created and sent a craft to another planet on which it has successfully landed and sent back pictures. It is phenomenal what we can achieve when you consider that it was only a little over 100 years ago that the first human flight took place, and not much more than 50 years since mankind first took to the stars. What will we achieve 50 years from now? Our possibilities are truly limitless.
For now we must keep our feet on the ground and focus on what is in front of us but the success of Curiosity thus far in reaching and landing on Mars is inspiring. However, this source of wonder comes at a price. At a cost of $7 per American, which is a substantial amount when you consider how many Americans there are, this enterprise has certainly taken a significant chunk out of the Government’s budget. A lot of Americans are critical that this money could be better spent elsewhere but can you really attach a dollar value to the motivation and magnificence these kinds of experiments conjure across every continent? Keep it coming NASA, you’re doing great!