Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Mighty Mars Rovers

Steve Squyres was thirteen in 1969 when the first human set foot
on thr Moon. He found it exciting but thought it irrelevant to his
life. On the second point he couldn't have been more wrong.
In college Steve thought he could be a geologist. It wasn't
long, however, before space captured his imagination. Working on a
term paper for a class taught by a member of the Mars exploring Viking
team, he had an epiphany. Viking's problem was that it was
stationary. "Imagine you're a geologist and you get sent out to some
cool place where you've never been. They helicopter you in and say,
'We'll pick you up in a day.' And then they nail your boots down so
you can't walk around. The story is there to be read in the rocks but
you can't reach it."
That insight gave Steve a vision of what he wanted to do with
his life--a vision that culminated in the creation of land rovers
Spirit and Opportunity and their exploration of Mars. The story is
beautifully told in Elizabeth Rusch's The Mighty Mars Rovers. The
scientific facts are enlivened by the many seemingly insurmountable
challenges Steve and his colleagues had to overcome. The photographs
are amazing.
My favorite page concerns the naming of the rovers. A little
girl who was adopted from a "dark and cold and lonely" orphanage by a
loving Arizona family won this honor. This is part of her essay. "At
night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better. I dreamed I
could fly there. In America, I can make all my dreams come true.
Thank you for the 'Spirit' and the 'Opportunity'."
On a personal note, my church had a fund raising supper: chicken
casseroles, beans, coleslaw, rolls, and a variety of the most amazing
pies. Our choir director makes a strawberry pie so divine you look
around for angels since you think you've arrived at Heaven. Made over
A great big shout out goes out to all who worked on this worthy
endeavor for good stewardship and cheerful camaraderie, especially the
pie serving ladies who let me take a second slice of strawberry pie
since I was volunteering.
Julia Emily Hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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