Mars Polar Lander: Latest sci-fi blockbuster

If I had the NASA channel, I'd be glued to the screen for the next four hours. In just under two houses, Mars Polar Lander is scheduled to do either do what it is named to do, or it will become another examples of the Mars curse.

I am hoping for the first option, so that I may have a few minutes of secular enlightenment. After all, what good is spending billions for these science missions if there's no sense of human accomplishment to show for it? My imagination is sparked, as I try to explain to my four and a half year old son what Mars is, and why this is exciting. I just tried to demonstrate using some Play-Doh, but I couldn't get the landing gear right.

I would like to think these missions were the pinnacle of our society's interest. I'd love in 50 years for people to remember these obscure landings and where they were when they happened. I can remember where I was when the fate of at least some of the Mars missions were known.

I was bartending in Nashua, New Hampshire, when Pathfinder landed. No one else seemed to really be that excited at the time, but I was riveted by the coverage on CNN. I was in England when the Beagle 2 failed to show up, and the disappointment was sort of overshadowed by it being Christmas Day and all.

And, that's about all I can remember. But, I am immortalizing Phoenix's landing or crash, whichever, with this blog post, which happened on Henry's 2008 trip to America.

Follow on, good or bad, at the Phoenix project site. Or, as always, bookofjoe is on the case.

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