Today’s post comes from Curiosity’s Mars Rover.
My ground controllers tell me I had an anniversary this past week – one Martian year has gone by since I literally dropped out of the sky on to this cold, dusty planet!
I had no idea. Anniversaries and birthdays and such aren’t really on my radar. I use radar for other things, like finding mountains and watching for incoming meteors. Getting surprised by either one could be embarrassing, or a catastrophic fiery collision. And I’m programmed to avoid both, which leaves no room in my memory for trivial dates.
It just occurred to me that I don’t know the birthdays of any of my controllers! Not that I could send presents from this distance, especially since I don’t have any packaging or postage. I guess not falling off a ridge or crushing a wheel between two rocks is my gift to them. Without me, they’d be making latte’s at Starbucks.
And the controllers didn’t send a birthday present to me, either. Except orders to take another selfie, which is not a gift, in my opinion.
It does make me wonder if launching vast amounts of bubble wrap to Mars would be one way to start building up an atmosphere. That could be a Mars Mission recruiting attraction – you get to sit up here and pop bubble wrap all day long. I understand there are some people who would like that to be their full time job, though it sounds a little boring.
And believe me, I know a thing or two about bleak, repetitive, non-creative tasks!
So far the work has gone like this – drive forward two feet, wait for instructions. Turn right. Wait for instructions. Drive eight inches. Wait for instructions. Drill a hole. Wait for instructions. Wait, wait, wait. Do some small, insignificant thing. Wait. Take another selfie.
I’m not complaining because I’m not programmed to do that, but when they told me one year on Mars was equal to almost two full Earth years, I thought they were talking about the tedium.
Turns out it is, literally, almost a whole year longer.
I admit I’ve spent some of the down time watching old TV shows. I’m sure you’ve heard that the ancient signals are out here bouncing around the cosmos. I like the classics, like Leave it To Beaver.
Wait. I can do his voice. Here it is:
“Geez Wally, I thought going to Mars would be really neat. But it’s just following orders and waiting for adults to tell you to do stuff. Time drags on so slow, it kinda feels like you’ll never get to grow up. I’d talk to Dad about it, but he’s kinda busy figuring out my next 16 inch trip.”
Oops. Call coming in. Time to begin endless year #2.
What was your longest year?