Get Your Ass to Mars

Didn't we do this in 1997?

Seriously, I'm as big a NASA supporter as ever, but at some point soon we need to advance beyond what was achieved 15 years ago -- with the little rover and the low-rez photography.

And it's a little weird that the ill-conceived Total Recall reboot opened over the weekend. Did they plan this?

UPDATE and CLARIFICATION. The point of this post wasn't to piss in anyone's breakfast, and it certainly wasn't meant to be a criticism of NASA which is working with dwindling budgets and increased competition from private exploration, etc. All I'm saying here is that after so much time, I feel like the space program should be doing more. I'm aware and appreciative of the science (I post about science and NASA here all the time -- to minimal response until I get grumpy, by the way) and I'm aware of the technology but in order to continue as a program, these missions have to produce something more spectacular or else austerity and lack of interest will continue to kill it and, at the very least, achievements will take much longer than was anticipated years ago.

Adding... Okay, this is a really damn cool photograph.

  • MarshallLucky

    Yes, let’s throw away precious time and money on glitzy showboat missions designed to impress politicians. Much better than actual science. Maybe we can even get some astronauts killed, as tends to happen when political pressure trumps sense and safety! That will do wonders for NASA’s budget!

  • Michael Schwartz
  • D_C_Wilson

    I agree with Bob that we should be prepping a manned mission to Mars right now, but we’re not there yet. This was the biggest and most sophisticated probe we’ve ever landed on Mars or anywhere else. It will, hopefully, gather even more data about the red planet than we’ve gotten from the other probes in the past. Getting it there with an untested landing system was a major achievement in its own right.

    If it were up to me, our next probe to Mars would include a habitat and fuel tank to await the arrival of the manned mission, following the Mars Direct plan.

    Oh, and I’d be sending a probe to drill through the ice on Europa to see what’s there.

  • Jay

    I know you’ve been very supportive of NASA, I just wanted to call you out on that a little bit. NASA did a good job of “selling” this mission to the public. The 7 minutes of terror video generated a ton of buzz online and was well done.

    They also have Cassini at Saturn, and a new orbiter on the way to Jupiter. They’ve picked a private company to begin the next phase of human exploration and that company has already docked with the ISS.

    Thanks for the correction/update.

  • muselet



  • muselet

    … at some point soon we need to advance beyond what was achieved 15 years ago …


    However, going to Mars isn’t like a road trip, you can’t just take off into the unknown with a few changes of underwear and some music. Space is pretty unforgiving, so wisdom dictates progressing in a stepwise fashion.

    Bob, I want my flying car and vacation home on the Moon just as much as anyone (they promised!), but for now this is a big damn’ deal.


  • Colin Berry

    Totally agree with you, Bob — I went to Europe once, for a couple of weeks. Why would I ever want to go back? What could I possibly see that I didn’t see the first time?


  • jmby

    I can’t agree less with you on this one, Bob. My husband’s uncle was not only an astronaut, but, in his 70’s, is still one of the world’s most experienced and busy aerospace engineers, who is currently working on a massive space project that will eventually lead to incredie scientific applications for everyday life – as happens with every space project.

    Commonplace things from mobile phones to dangerous weather pattern tracking to non-invasive surgery to George Cloony being able to track soldiers in Darfur with his own satellite to freaking Memory Foam have roots in the space program, and speaking for 30 minutes with our uncle and his colleagues is truly mind-blowing. Without constant exploration and experimentation, we’d not have nearly as many scientific advances as we have. Even those shaky, blurry photos taught scientists something.

    And no- we have not done this particular thing on Mars before.

  • KQµårk

    Bob once in a while you sound as ignorant as a right winger. Put it this way the first Mars rover was like putting a Model T on Mars while we just landed a state of the art Hydrogen ATV on Mars. The capabilities of the new rover are that much more superior.

  • Cermet

    Please, not everyone follows space missions and knows what is happening. So, cut the guy some slack. Yes, it is a big deal for most of us geeks or just smart people who like science. For the dumb-dumb about President Obama – well, he already was up and gave his congrats for a mission/landing so well done.

  • Jason Nabi

    ^^ Jay, Zep, and Jack… Bob needs a do-over this morning. Beyond the sheer sublimity of this achievement, Curiosity is also a triumph of science and of a governmental agency. Seems like Bob would be all over that.

  • iheartskywizards

    Obama hasn’t said it’s a good thing yet so Bob doesn’t like. Nosiree not one bit not until Poppa says it’s good. Btw, there’s no sense in using your critical thinking skills on this one Bob, research, exploration and new discoveries are so 15 years ago.

    • Bob Rutledge


    • Victor_the_Crab

      Make sure you wipe your mouth off with toilet paper, trolltard. Nobody likes seeing shit all over your face.

    • nicole


  • Bob Rutledge

    Yeah, not so little a rover:
    Sojourner and its flight spare [1997] 2 feet (65 centimeters) long in front.
    The Mars Exploration Rover Project’s rover, Spirit and Opportunity [2004] are 5.2 feet (1.6 meters) long on our left.
    The Mars Science Laboratory Project’s Curiosity rover a, on the right, are 10 feet (3 meters) long.

    I, too, would like to see manned missions to Mars, but this, for reasons others have explained, is indeed a very big deal.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    Awww, come on, Bob, don’t be a party pooper.

    Sure, we’ve landed stuff on Mars before; we did it twice in the ’70s. But (a.), never anything this big or this sophisticated, let alone with this much risk, and (b.) it’s still an incredible fricking achievement no matter how many times it’s done.

    If we hadn’t cut Apollo short and settled for low earth orbit with the space shuttle/station concept, we might have sent astronauts to Mars by now.

    I love this, and I love the enthusiasm for it that I’m seeing all over the place. Go NASA!

    • JackDaniel07

      Also consider that if the US National Budget was a one dollar bill, NASA’s share wouldnt even get to the ink from the edge! Considering we have a country where 50% of us still pray for rain in our SUVs during a drought, I think its pretty damn cool

  • Ken Johnson

    Sheesh! Who pissed in Bob’s Cheerios this morning?

    • nicole

      He’s damn well just as entitled as the rest of us to have a bad day.

  • Jay

    No, we didn’t. We have never done anything like this. We have never landed a 1-ton ATV on another planet. We have never sent a rover with its own power source capable of powering it for up to 10 years and enabling measurements at night and in the winter. We’ve never sent a rover that could handle rocky terrain and go (almost) where it wants. We’ve never used a parachute that large that deployed with those supersonic speeds. We’ve never used a sky crane. We’ve never sent a rover with 17 cameras, including HD. We’ve never sent a number of the scientific instruments that are on this rover to Mars.

    To sum it up for you, you don’t advance much further than this in one step, and this was a damn big one.

    • OsborneInk

      Yep, the rover that landed in 1997 was the size of a small dog. This one is the size of a sedan.