25 May 2011

Inspired by Spirit, inspired by xkcd, Inspired by Human Ingenuity

The news that NASA is giving up on the Mars rover Spirit made me a little sad this morning.  It's easy to anthropomorphize Spirit and her twin, Opportunity, considering that they have semi-autonomy when it comes to choosing their route yet conversely (am I using that correctly?) that there is a human looking through their electronic eyes, the soul of a rover driver tethered to the robot via radio signals beamed over tens of millions of miles.

It also helps in the anthropomorphizing that Randall Monroe over at the singular, insightful, and entertaining xkcd comic had posted this work (http://xkcd.com/695/) that a friend reminded me of when I mentioned Spirit's declared loss -- we know where she is, we just can't get her to talk back to us.  It's all in the first article I linked.

Saddened yet inspired, I wondered what must be going through the minds of the other probes we have launched into the cosmos, and no explorers so well-traveled as the Voyager twins.  So with apologies and thanks to Mr. Monroe, and in an attempt to return cheer to the hearts of space enthusiasts the world over, I give you the thoughts of either Voyager (and fine, Pioneer X, too) as they hurtle through space ever outward to the stars:

Oh to feel the interstellar medium flowing across my antennae


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