06 August 2012

56. Curiosity Mars Rover

Dear Curiosity Mars Rover:

Thank you.

Thank you for existing and being so cool that I stayed up way past my bedtime watching live internet video of the control room at Jet Propulsion Labs as the team of badass nerds who made you lost years of their lives to the stress of hoping you'd land successfully, then got those years back at the joy of knowing you'd touched down OK, and then gained some years with the excitement of seeing the first pictures of you on ANOTHER FREAKING PLANET OMG WTF BBQ? I mean, you had people on Twitter posting that they'd name a newborn Skycrane if they'd just given birth... well done, robot the size of a minivan, well done. (The last Mars rover had totally put a particular size and shape of interplanetary exploration robot in my head, so I was totally stunned by the full-size model of you at the American Museum of Natural History's Beyond Planet Earth exhibit back in December... yeah, I gotta go back and check that out again before it closes in less than a week... I could go on and on. Anyway.)

Thanks for being so very inspiring, Curiosity, and not just to me and this letter. I finally started writing after I saw today's XKCD comic about you, but Dinosaur Comics pretty much hit it out of the park: A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO TASTE LIKE PORK PUT CAR-SIZED ROBOTS ON FRIGGIN' MARS, HOW'S THAT TASTE? I say it tastes like winning.

Thank you for being deliciously good news in the face of a day that also included some jackass shooting up a Sikh temple for reasons officially as yet unknown but which are totally going to be reported as the act of an isolated individual rather than representative of an ethnic group (the shooter was a white guy, members of the unmarked category are allowed to have individual agency instead of standing for "their kind" — at best he's a "bad apple" but I doubt he'll even be labeled as such). Product of a society and culture that tolerates entirely too much hate and racism and access to deadly weapons? Nah, couldn't be. But I digress. Back to something awesome... you.

Thank you for being a use of technology on behalf of everything that's good about people — asking questions, learning, exploring, working together for causes greater than our own little petty selves.  Hell, I know it's not exactly like you had a say in the matter, but thank you for your name, which makes me a little weepy as I think about it in terms of everything that's good about my species.

Thanks in advance for whatever you find out there, Curiosity, you state-of-the-stuff mini mobile science lab, you. Thanks again for being just about as real as magic gets.

Just... thanks.