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Greetings from around the world Martian InSight



northThe last and triumphant landing of a spacecraft on Mars by ASA should inspire us to revitalize our own capacity for wonder.

While many national outlets obediently covered The landing of the InSight landing of Monday (and this publication provided wonderful live coverage), I still do not have the feeling that the general public is excited, or even more than interested in it. This is, after all, the eighth successful landing of a human ship on the Martian surface, so the novelty has long since disappeared.

It is difficult for most of us to track what lander is doing what science, or why anything other than the search for water / life / little green men should worry us a lot. If the lander simply digs in the dirt instead of sending some R2-D2 type robot along the Martian dunes, it's simply not our interest, even if we allow ourselves too momentary pride as Americans. and humans know that we can perform such engineering feats.

However, maybe we should not be so indifferent about it. What humanity is achieving on Mars is truly remarkable. Three-fifths of the Mars missions have it has failed In its totality, and even more have been only partial successes. And no wonder: to be successful, InSight had to travel 301,223,981 miles of space, reduce the speed of 12,300 mph to 5 mph while withstanding a friction heat of 2,700 degrees, self-analyze where the flattest and safest place was in the landing area, deploy a parachute at the exact moment, turn to the correct position in relation to the ground, tap gently and then start sending detailed signals to the Earth.

NASA scientists will take another three months to use the same radio signals in deep space, carefully to configure the tools and research instruments that will allow InSight to drill deep beneath the Martian surface to conduct their experiments in the heat of Mars, its degree of "wobble" on its axis, and other information that will help men land and survive missions on the Red Planet.

These long-distance experiments will run for almost two Earth years. Other missions are on the way.

However, in spite of all this, I am afraid that many of us do not appreciate the amazing complexity of these missions, nor the tremendous triumphs that are successful. It was not always like that. In 1996-97, when the little Sojourner rover became the first human instrument to move on the Martian earth, I remember that many of us are paralyzed, talking about it in work lunches and tables, even anthropomorphizing a human personality. in that.

In the same way, or even more, when the Rovers Spirit and Opportunity He started traveling much longer distances through the Martian landscape in 2004, and then, almost miraculously, he kept going back and forth, the first months and then years beyond the expected 90-day lifespan: we encourage them as if they were brave small engines that could, as if they had their own wills.

While logic says that it is foolish to attribute personalities to machines, it makes sense to transfer those feelings of admiration and admiration to the humans who created them. If we lose this ability to appreciate the greatness of some human achievements, and the greater greatness of this incredibly large and mysterious universe, we will lose an essential element of our own humanity.

Like the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote, at our best we are determined to "strive, seek, find and not give in". That's what our NASA scientists and engineers do every day, and they deserve our deepest gratitude.

Quin Hillyer (@QuinHillyer) is a contributor to the Confidential Beltway blog of the Washington Examiner. He is a former editor of the associated editorial page for the Washington Examiner, and is the author of the trilogy "The Accidental Prophet" of recently published satirical and literary novels.

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