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Mars: The discovery of disappointment

Image: Nasa

After NASA’s announcement of the Mars discovery, we here at TBS are let down by the outcome. We didn’t get the present we wanted.

 

“No…it’s great,” we say, forcing a smiled nod toward NASA as we stare at the now-unwrapped gift they’ve given us. Sure, this pair of socks, made of liquid water is what we needed but it’s the not the one we wanted.

Where’s our shiny green Martian bike, NASA?

Last night. Announcement-eve. I decided sleep was less important than history being made, so I found myself counting the minutes, as all the while, the present sat under the tree. The announcement was only a few hours away, but I couldn’t help myself. I started guessing what the shape could be. Aliens? Developed life? That Obelisk thing from 2001: A Space Odyssey?

I knew all this was against my better judgement, the unbridled childlike expectations. I had been burnt before and I couldn’t shake the feeling of another classic Christmas morning let down, courtesy of the smiling face of those parental boner-killers at Cape Canaveral.

Flowing liquid water is a big deal. It is the greatest clue of life on some level being possible. You told us so. But the Red Planet is also home to many reality checks.

In 2013, the Mars Curiosity Rover turned over evidence of water in the YellowKnife Bay area of Mars, and we all drew one collective shocked breath, which turned into a confused shrug. Microbes? That may or may not have lived 3.6 billion years ago?

Wow?

I know it’s a tough racket, NASA. And my head caves in at the thought of the science involved. But don’t lead us on. We all know you live in a world of maybes, and that “if’s” are all you have to go on. You’re taking the smallest of educated baby steps. You’re doing wonderfully with what you have. But we can take not knowing. Don’t leave us all hanging on announcement eve, for what could be the defining moment of our generation, to find that the discovery is mostly the start of the process. We like answers, not more questions leading into more questions. We know you’re excited; we are too. But “under certain circumstances” and “more humidity that we figured” seem to be a “you” thing. Come back to us when you know something concrete, something we can understand, something visceral. Leave us out of the loop until you can trundle out whatever gaseous ancient beast you found swimming underneath the (less) arid lake.

Don’t get me wrong, NASA. It’s interesting, sure. But we share your unbridled enthusiasm because you’re excited. To be honest, we’re a bit let down. The journey was more exciting than the destination and now we’re stuck with disappointing encounters of the worst kind. I suppose movies, cartoons and the advertising bends of the mid-1960’s coloured our expectations, and for that we’re sorry. But you’re guilty too, NASA, for prefacing your marvellous discoveries with a cosmic caveat.

There was that time you bombed the Moon. October 9, 2009, when you slammed a rocket into the Cabeus Crater at such a vicious speed it’d scientifically rip the toupee off the head of the moon, so we could all see inside. The rocket was said to have produced a volcanic plume of debris scattering into the atmosphere, releasing material trapped inside its lunar prison for billions of years. Wow!

We know this, because you told us this, NASA. Unfortunately, the cameraman spacecraft sent to document said plume was on a union break. So we all collectively sat down and waited for an explanation. Frozen water. S’good I guess…

The upshot of said bombing raid was that “maybe” the frozen water could “maybe” be purified “if” they were to “maybe” remove poisonous methanol that swum with it, and so fleetingly the cold war/Bond villain fantasy of Moon bases was retrieved from the back of the freezer and thawed, bung on a plate and frowned upon before reaching the back of the freezer again.

So…we knew nothing. No moon base, no moon water, no nothing. So we moved on.

Or, in 2010, when you warned of the dangers of us being fried by a “once-in-a-generation” space storm, concerned that out over reliance on electronic goods could render us all defenceless of the magnetic solar flare hell due to rain down on us, we were all aghast; but, unfortunately, it too never happened.

Tongues were collectively clicked in cheeks, dirt was scuffed in a childish mope. The massive doses of radiation escaped our grasp and, quietly, all the satellites were plugged back in.

You took away our treasured Pluto, because it wasn’t big enough. Is that all you care about, NASA. Size?

NASA, you are amazing. But you know you’re amazing. Which makes you a massive tease. But, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you can be misleading. I’m sorry.

Now you promise more news, in 2020? Yeah, we’ll wait for you.

 

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TBS Likes is a strange place where anything goes. Like International Waters, or Christmas morning after the shine has worn off and the booze has kicked in. May the ugliness commence.

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