This morning, as I supped my cup of tea in West London, I watched the Mars Curiosity land some 56 million kilometres away on the surface of the Red Planet. The fact that I could do this at all seems almost too clever to be right. The event was live tweeted by journalists present in the room, and live-streamed by Nasa.Curiosity has his (her?) own Twitter account, allowing a check-in to Foursquare from the surface of Mars!
I continued to follow the story for a little while, and watched the early parts of the NASA press conference. I was amazed not just with the technology, but the whimsy which accompanied its presentation. The Mission Leader declared that he had looked up at the planet 90 minutes before landing was scheduled and it had “smiled at me”. One of his colleagues then took the stage and said:
The wheels of curiosity have begun to blaze a trail for human footsteps on Mars.
Could that really be described as anything other than poetry, I wonder? Maybe science is poetry, at its most profound – a rearranging of the fundamental building blocks of human knowledge so that we appreciate its startling beauty in new ways. Would love to know of other places where people have seen science and poetry work hand in hand like this.
Thanks to NASA’s generous and open policy, I am able to reproduce Curiosity’s first picture here. I hope it piques yours: