Wednesday, September 05, 2007

PLANET CARAVAN

We sail through endless skies
Stars shine like eyes
The black night sighs
The moon in silver trees
Falls down in tears
Light of the night
The earth, a purple blaze
Of sapphire haze
In orbit always

While down below the trees
Bathed in cool breeze
Silver starlight

breaks down the night
And so we pass on by

the crimson eye
Of great God mars
As we travel the universe
Black Sabbath


Cliffs near the northern polar region of Mars as taken by ESA's (European Space Agency) Mars Express. Clearly visible in this enhanced photograph are ice, red rock, and sand. The darker colored regions are believed to be Volcanic ash.

For more about this photo and Mars Express...click here







I remember Dad showing me the "Man in the Moon when I was 4 years old and telling him I couldn't see a man but the was definitly a Rabbit up there.
Like most kids, I was fascinated by space and planets and the man in the moon.
In the 8th grade I was President of the Rocket club.
I wasn't geeky enough to be NASA material...that is to say I was not studious or smart enough, and Math held no big attraction.



My best friend Scott and I would get together and each build a Rocket every Friday night, staying up till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, riding our bikes up nto the 7-11 and getting an Apple Beer at 3:30.
It was while building those rockets in the deep watches of the night that I caught on to Rock and Roll and the Beatles.
Then we would oversleep till 7 or 8:00, having hoped to be up at 6:00, taking our launch pads and rockets and engines up to the School.





Anyway, I am still fascinated by the Universe. I have a very good Astronomy book that has fairly simple and basic explanations of the physical Laws that govern our universe and all that is in it.
I watched Barbara Morgan and the Space Shuttle "Endeavor" launch last week, beginning the completion of the mission that Christa McCollough began 22 years ago.
We, and all the wide eyed youngsters at last have a Teacher in orbit and involved "hands on" in space, working alongside some very smart people on the Space Station.



Mars has always been a source of intrigue and fascination. It is currently the only planet in the Solar System on which there is a strong possibility of finding life - past, or perhaps present. It is a prime candidate for future manned exploration, and even colonization.
I believe that this will happen.

NASA currently has two rovers on Mars. They have been in operation since January 2004.
The two rockets that took them there were launched 20 days apart. It took them each 6 months to arrive in orbit around Mars.
I remember doing the math at the time...Mars was 53 Million miles away at launch and traveling at 18,000 MPH it didn't quite add up...these spacecraft would be traveling 77 million miles, not 53 million.
Then I realized that since the Earth and Mars are both moving, they would have to travel more than 53 million miles because of that movement.
The level of difficulty was compared to hitting a golf ball in Los Angeles and hitting a coffee cup that was in motion in New York City.
The rockets carried a couple of remote control Dune Buggys called Rovers and like my old boat, they had a lot of High Tech equipment in them. Unlike my old boat, they are able to transmit data back from the surface of Mars.


What I find extremely remarkable is that the estimated life span for the two rovers was 3 months...and they have now been in operation for three and a half years!!! For the last several weeks they have been in danger from dust storms that keep the solar panels from providing power but as of 8/24 they are back in business!
The Spirit and Opportunity rovers were named through a student essay competition.
The winning entry was by Sofi Collis, a third-grade Russian-American student from Arizona.

"I used to live in an Orphanage.
It was dark and cold and lonely.
At night, I looked up at the sparkly sky and felt better.
I dreamed I could fly there. Thank-you for the SPIRIT and OPPORTUNITY"

8 comments:

GEWELS said...

Nice post- I, too, have always been fascinated by space. My Dad bought me a telescope for my 12th birthday and he and I would stay up at all hours just peering into the night. I keep saying that when I grow up I'm going to be an astronaut.
Been loving the Discovery channel(or is it the History channel)'s Big Bang Theory series that's been playing all week here.

Amazing stuff!

GEWELS said...

Love the poem- Nice job Stevie-O

Barbara said...

I love the story of naming the rovers. I have never fantasized about going to the moon or to Mars, realizing that I have never even seen the Grand Canyon or the coast of Alaska that Gewels keeps raving about. I have always been intrigued with thinking about life somewhere else out there. It would be so cool if we finally had some evidence of it.

Mother of Invention said...

Glad that neat little girl had the chance to name something significant.

Is it my imagination, or can we see the man in the moon way more than we used to? Sure seems to have bigger features now.

GrizzBabe said...

That picture looks just like the candy bar!

Dave Mows Grass said...

Sorry I'm a bit slow here. Grass fast; Dave slow.

I remember watching the coverage of the landing of the first rover. They showed the panels that enclosed the rover being opened up. They used the camera on the rover to make sure the panels opened on top of the deflated ballons that cushioned the landing of the whole issue. If I remember right, they got a new picture only once every ten minutes or so, but I stayed glued to the TV to see each one as soon as it came in. I remember feeling proud of humans in general just for being so damn inventive.

Old Lady said...

Then of here come the dirty thoughts!

Old Lady said...

One day I will be able to put ALL the words down that I think, it should have said

"Then of course, here come all the dirty thoughts"