Dear Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity Rover,
It’s been fun to follow your Twitter feed and Facebook posts, and I’m pretty stoked for your landing in August.
My favorite part of your mission is the ChemCam, as I’m rather interested in the geology/chemistry of the planet (I’m a rock geek). Oh, who am I kidding, I’m really just excited that you’ll be carrying a laser(!) and will be vaporizing rocks on another planet.
I can’t believe I just typed that. It’s incredibly awesome. It’s a pretty good thing that I’m not in charge of the rover. I’d probably just drive around blowing stuff up. It’d be like a Sylvester Stallone movie. By the time I was done there wouldn’t be much left of the planet.
If I may ask, does the person who is in charge of the ChemCam laser have a special title? If not, they deserve one immediately. After all, they have the coolest job imaginable. Not only do they get to work for NASA, they also get to vaporize things on another planet on behalf of NASA and all mankind.
Of course, there’s only one suitable nickname for the operator of a laser on Mars: Marvin. An important question: can the laser operator do a good Marvin the Martian impression? If so, when they fire the laser for the first time, they should do so while doing a Marvin the Martian impression. You should record this and post it online. This would be huge on Twitter, I’m sure.
If they don’t do a good Marvin impression, mine is passable. I’d be happy to record an MP3 for them to use, either for that or for their ring tone/entrance music to a room.
Speaking of music, maybe you can resolve a dispute for me. My father and I often chat about space missions, as we’re both fans of astronomy, and I mentioned the other day that the Opportunity Rover has driven over 21 miles on Mars. He immediately said, “Well that’s a long time to be alone, I bet it’s humming as it’s driving along.”
While we both agree that this is likely, we disagree what it’d be humming. He thinks it opts for the dramatic: Strauss’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra from 2001 or Gustav Holt’s oh-so-appropriate Mars: Bringer of War. Given that the Mer Rover is relatively small, the size of a golf cart, that seems a little dramatic. That’s sort of like blasting heavy metal as you tool around in a Geo Metro.
I bet the rover is humming along to something more playful, like the “Manama” song from the Muppets or the theme to Super Mario Brothers. Which do you think is more likely?
Finally, I wish you the best of luck with the landing. I know landing on a different planet is a pretty tricky business, and I know you’re trying out the new landing approach—the sky crane. (By the way, that sounds a lot like a professional wrestling move.)
I hope all goes well and look forward to your dispatches from the Red Planet.