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Blown away by Mars mission

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Scripps Howard: The landing of the Mars rover Opportunity in a crater very nearly perfect for its mission, says Steve Squyres, is a "300 million-mile interplanetary hole-in-one," and the chief scientist for this NASA project doesn't stop his enthusiasm there.
He says he is "flabbergasted," that he is "astonished" and that he is "blown away" by the "bizarre alien landscape" that Opportunity will explore when it comes off its lander. He says he keeps thinking that all of this "can't possibly get any better, and it does." Opportunity's quest, he says, is "going to be a wonderful adventure."
Opportunity, plopping down a half planet away from where its sister rover Spirit landed three weeks ago, is in the presence of soil and bedrock that just could provide evidence of water on Mars and give further hints of whether life ever existed there. Science seems sure to learn an awful lot. Even if the discoveries are something other than expected or hoped for, the knowledge could have enormous consequences for our understanding of this universe in which we live.
Justified excitement
Squyres' excitement then is absolutely justified, and then some, for isn't it a major part of the mission of the rational form of life that exists on the Earth that we aim endlessly to increase our comprehension and awareness?
And isn't there a certain nobility in the fact that the United States is doing this thing, that this high-tech industrialized nation is investing in this scientific investigation and doing it so well?
Doesn't it just blow you away?