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Model of Curiosity rover at Kennedy Space Center
Let's start with if.

I was a little surprised to find what I thought to be somewhat scarce attention to the mission from Kossacks. The story seems very political to me, potentially. I am totally gobsmacked at how fiercely and effectively this mission demonstrates the validity of things incessantly mocked by the GOP: 1. science and 2. the ability of our government to perform effectively. Equally clearly, the Curiosity mission shows how it is important for the country to have government capable of doing things that cannot otherwise be done, but need doing, a concept also reprehensible to most in the GOP.

Yet, while the Curiosity Mission has not been ignored on this site, it has been only a tiny part of our daily conversations. That seems, ahem, curious to me. I see in this mission lots of potential for political gain for Democrats. The Curiosity Mission gets in the face of the GOP's science skeptics and government naysayers. NASA, a government agency, has turned in a stupendously capable and cost effective piece of work. The mission gives us, the good guys, something to soften some of the GOP's strongest arguments, traditionally, to low information voters -- that government is inefficient and too costly. That can only improve Democratic prospects up and down the ticket.

For more thinking along these lines, follow me into the tall grass.

For this to work the Curiosity Mission must become strongly imbedded in popular culture between now and the election. The more popular attention the mission draws, the easier Democratic messaging becomes and the weaker Republican messaging becomes. I think that buzz is possible, even probable. Consider this:

I mean, isn't that cooler than a lot of stuff you've Tweeted or shared on Facebook, etc? There could be potential for the Curiosity Mission to be one of the Next Big Things. It could happen just when it's most useful politically for people who respect the proper and useful role of government and believe in science, i.e. Democrats.    

President Obama has already had wonderful things to say about the Curiosity Mission:

Tonight’s success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best – push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight’s success reminds us that our preeminence – not just in space, but here on Earth – depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.
As far as I can tell, Mitt Romney hasn't had a word to say about it. I even looked through the Press Releases and News Stories and speeches on Romneys campaign website, ewww, and there is no mention of the mission or NASA or space or science or anything. Over there it's all about Obama can't be trusted not to undo welfare reform and keeps lying about poor Mitt.

Someone needs to ask Romney what he thinks about the mission. I predict with 100% certainty that his response will be totally lame. In the meantime, right after the Olympics, Americans hoarse from screaming USA USA USA, can carry on cheering for the spellbinding images and other news that will start flooding back from the mission between now and the election. A positive national response to the success of the Curiosity Mission can only help Democrats in November. Do what you can to create some buzz about the mission.  

Originally posted to Delated on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:14 PM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and Community Spotlight.


Curiosity Mission?

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Comment Preferences

  •  At only 150% of the original estimate (68+ / 0-)

    the enormously complex, one of a kind, multifaceted design of the Curiosity Rover has been created and is being executed and operated as a model of efficiency that no business or group of them in the world could match. Romney would probably want to give all the credit to the contractors, but nothing but the government could have capitalized and organized those contractors, and the low cost is more in spite of, rather than because of the contractors in the typical case. In any event, at the price, the accomplishment is huge and the potential for exciting new discoveries on Mars in coming weeks looms equally large.

    The stain of Bain is wrecking Romney's name. h/t to Lerner & Lowe

    by LeftOfYou on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:07:27 PM PDT

    •  Military spends the cost of Curiosity (6+ / 0-)

      in like a day right?

      Still, I don't really see how this makes it more likely we can establish permanent human presence on Mars. So personally I'm "meh" on it.

      •  As I explained in a comment to my diary (25+ / 0-)

        Why we should celebrate NASA's Mars rover, when someone complained of the amount of money spent on space research:

        Thank you for the opportunity to once again
        explain the overwhelming importance of the development of science and technology. That so many good and decent people don't understand this crucial point is a symptom of how thoroughly dismal is the state of economics as a science and as a profession. And, I should add, how horribly this lack of knowledge affects the scope of politically plausible options required to save the human race.

        I do not exaggerate: the development of new science and technology is the most important economic activity any society can undertake.

        In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Jared Diamond examines how societies descend inexorably into collapse when they ignore environmental limitations and mismanage their natural resources. The key point that most readers of Diamond miss is that a society’s environmental limitations are defined only within a fairly specific period of time based on the prevailing technological mode of that society’s economy. Any society that remains stuck in one technological mode will eventually bump up against environmental limitations: what is considered a resource and how much of it is readily available and usable. Because all an economy really is, is how a society organizes itself to procure and process raw materials (natural resources) to create and distribute what is needed to sustain and reproduce human life.

        So the most important economic activity a society engages in the pursuit of new scientific and technological knowledge that allows that society's economy to avoid environmental limitations and inefficient misuse of natural resources. This is one of those wonderful, mysterious paradoxes of life: basic scientific research has no measurable immediate payback (as measured by currently reigning accounting systems of costs and benefits) but nonetheless is THE most important economic activity that occurs in a society. It is well nigh impossible to precisely target basic scientific research to achieve the laudable goals you list, yet, without  basic scientific research of the type embodied in NASA's planetary missions, you simply CANNOT achieve those goals. Why is that? Because basic scientific research of the type embodied in NASA's planetary missions creates and maintains and rewards within society the fundamental inquisitive part of human nature. It is that inquisitive part of human nature that must be promoted and nurtured to create a cadre scientists, some of whom will eventually provide the solutions to the problems you list.

        Anecdotal evidence is perhaps the way to see this. Note, for example, that we would not know what we know today about global climate change without the assorted achievements of space science over the past three quarters of a century. Where would global climate science be without meteorological satellites? How would we have satellites without mastering the technology of launch vehicles - that were originally developed as weapons of war? What use would launch vehicles have been if some eccentrically curious individuals had not tried to understand the orbital dynamics of the moon around the earth, and the planets around the sun? All the science and technology that goes into one successful space mission is drawn from the vast reservoir of scientific and technical knowledge that humanity has created and maintained, reaching back to Kepler and Archimedes and much, much more.

        As another argument, compare the effect of shuffling a few billion dollars from space science to cancer science, to the effect of shutting down HUNDREDS of billions of dollars from Wall Street speculation, to funding a new, scientific revolution in ALL disciplines of scientific knowledge. You waste your righteous anger on such a small target, when the real problem of unrestrained predatory finance is destroying all levels of economic activity, including science and NASA budgets.

        Basically, it comes down to a question of the highest level of warfare: cultural warfare. Space science is the cutting edge of humanity's mover toward an age of science and reason, including the creation and maintenance of systems of government that promote the general welfare. USA Republicans today are the leading edge of anti-rational and anti-science superstition (i.e., the invisible hand of the market), and xenophobic provincialism, and the vanguard of the creation of new, anti-democratic oligarchies based on usury and extraction of economic rent.

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:19:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Important point from "Collapse" I've (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          freesia, Nespolo, oortdust, walkshills, BigOkie

          never heard. Critical to many discussions here re global warming and resource extraction.

          As far as space exploration is concerned: it has never been an easy sell to the American public. It had to be sold as a "race to the moon", to "catch up to the Ruskies", in other words, to beat the enemy. Once we got to the moon, we all were in awe, rightfully so. Once we had been to the moon a few times, meh. Apollo was shafted by both the left and the right. There are always "more important" ways to spend federal dollars. Space exploration via federal dollars needs a continual pr campaign to wow the public. Republicans would have no problem with Bill Gates colonizing the moon, as long as they received campaign contributions from the effort.

          Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

          by the fan man on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:08:31 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Selling PEACE-not-WAR works for people only - (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            the fan man, BusyinCA

            not so much for "defense"
            who always, always needs more and more crap to kill and control - with OUR $.

            Time for USA to grow up a bit!
            Re-join the Hu-man race instead of "divide and conquer" all the time, at everyone's expense.

            Politics may not be the world's oldest profession but the results are the same.

            •  Think so? :) One thing about being a (0+ / 0-)

              paranoid bully, it's hard to come down off that precipice, especially since there are former, future and current enemies that would love to each your lunch.

              Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

              by the fan man on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:26:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Aquiring knowledge about everything. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I think its the most important thing we can do. like, ever. I have a little thign I tell people that isnt wholly accurate but gets the point across.

          The Atom was first discussed theoretically in ancient greece. The idea of a fundamental thing that made up every other thing being a fairly easy to imagine concept. Im sure some thinkers thought the atom was real, some did not.

          But I'm betting not a single one of them had any idea what would happen when we got our hands on them. It took thousands of years for us to get useful function out of an atom. What might we find function in next?

          "Dethklok has summoned a troll." "That's impossible; there's no such thing as trolls." "Then how do you explain the dead unicorns?"

          by kamrom on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:13:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Captain Kirk said it well: Risk *is* our business (0+ / 0-)

            it's what brings us the rewards for which we strive -- knowledge, mostly, but incidentally it reveals human beings at our best. When we work together there's nothing we can't achieve.

            Texas is no Bush league! LBJ & Lady Bird, Molly Ivins, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Drew Brees. -7.50,-5.59

            by BlackSheep1 on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 01:51:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  We do stand on the shoulders of giants. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I know where I am, tell me how can I get to where I want to be?

        •  Say what? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I never complained about the money spent. My statement pointed out that the DoD spent that yesterday. The implication is that complaining about the 2.5 billion spent on  mission is stupid.

          But I can't be personally excited about it because none of what's being studied seems likely to benefit the thing I directly listened. I didn't say it would have no benefits at all. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. I don't think they should have cancelled the mission and I didn't say they should have.

          Frankly to act like I said that is extremely insulting and hurtful. I'd appreciate an apology.

          •  Interesting point. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            But I don't think I would want to send a manned mission to a place that I hadn't already studied as thoroughly as I could manage with robotic labs. I would especially want answers to lots of very specific questions about conditions on Mars. Here's two: Was there ever surface water? If so, where is it now?

            The stain of Bain is wrecking Romney's name. h/t to Lerner & Lowe

            by LeftOfYou on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:17:55 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Human presence isn't everything! Knowledge (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, BlackSheep1

        of the planet is totally cool, especially the organics instruments. Perhaps it's b/c I'm old enough to remember the first images from Voyager that I realize how wonderful and shocking new information from the planets can be, and await this mission's findings with excitement. I am a total fan of robotic exploration - you can do tons of it for the price of one human mission, and learn tons of stuff without risking a human life. I'm a big fan of a (later) human mission, and I think we should be aiming there instead of for a return to the moon. However, note in the video: of 39 missions to Mars, 24 have failed. That is not a rate at which we are ready to risk people. Perhaps the fact that we actually landed something large is a major step towards human exploration.

        The first human being to set foot on Mars is already alive - isn't that a hoot? Wonder who it is :)

        "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

        by pixxer on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 08:18:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Human presence IS everything. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We're fucked on the planet pure and simple. Republicans have ensured it. We need to create something that can survive the Republican apocalypse.

        •  It would be interesting to pot those "failures" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          On a time axis to see if our rate of success is increasing.  Just stating that 24 of 39 have failed seems to ignore the possibility of a learning curve in a complex technology.  If our failures are not correlated to the progression of time (as a proxy for improved technology and science), then I agree the odds of failure are too great for considering a human mission at this time; however, I believe conservative estimates of a human mission is many years away--time to solve technical challenges.

          "The bass player is always right"

          by BigOkie on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:09:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Graphing the failure rate is certainly a good idea (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I was going to mention that the 24 might have been the last 24 (not quite, I know) in which case we're getting pretty good.

            I don't have anything against a human mission, I just absolutely love the robotic stuff. The science is a good enough adventure for me. In fact, a friend of mine is actively out there studying, working out, and advocating a human mission, and I know there are excellent arguments for it. I think I even said we should aim for Mars and not necessarily a return to the moon.

            You know, one thing we absolutely MUST do before humans arrive is do a thorough investigation of endemic organics. Once we arrive with our trilions of bacteria, the study of remnants of possible past life on Mars is effectively over, and that is too mammoth a scientific question to wipe out. Not that we're in danger of going all that soon :)

            "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

            by pixxer on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 11:07:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  excellent points (0+ / 0-)

              Do you remember when the Apollo astronauts came back from the moon and they were isolated in case there were any "moon bugs" they picked up?

              "The bass player is always right"

              by BigOkie on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 07:49:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  LOL! Yes, but I had totally forgotten that :) (0+ / 0-)

                Thanks for the memory!

                I'm more than intrigued by the clear evidence of flowing water on Mars. Yikes, if there was anything we thought was impossible... and I've been a firm believer that Viking's results were artifacts of an oxidized soil, rather than indications of life. But there still remains the possibility of past life on the red planet, and that would be as profound a scientific result as we are likely to see in our lifetimes. Unless the SETI people get luckier :)

                "Maybe this is how empires die - their citizens just don't deserve to be world leaders anymore." -Kossack Puddytat, In a Comment 18 Sept 2011

                by pixxer on Sat Aug 11, 2012 at 08:09:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  I wouldn't go that far. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Curiosity is certainly a strong case for what public-private partnership can achieve.  Lockheed Martin designed an aeroshell that uses an ablator originally developed by Ames.  The rover was built by a federally funded private entity managed by Caltech.  It was launched on a (as of now) inexpensive medium lifter designed and built by the United Launch Alliance (Boeing and Lockheed) with almost $4 billion in federal funding.  

      On the other hand, we now have a set of companies that are going farther (using what came before, no doubt) while costing taxpayers considerably less.  SpaceX already has a 10 ton lifter that costs a third as much to launch as the Atlas V, and is evolvable into a heavy configuration (25 tons)--using less than $1 billion in public funds to get through a rigorous set of federally mandated milestones and receiving additional outlays on for services rendered.  SpaceX again already has a cargo orbital vehicle, and Sierra Nevada and OSC will join her soon in that department.  And all their vehicles can evolve into crew configurations.  All of this has been achieved on about half a billion dollars a year in a competitive, fixed contract basis.

      Most importantly, this public-private effort to reduce the cost of space access has spillover consequences for the real economy.  More people are going to be able to afford to put more stuff (and people) in space.  The implications for government space lift is almost obvious--NASA, NOAA and DoD can afford more flights.  The benefits to the space satellite industry are somewhat more complicated to assess due to the history of compromising satellite design with the large upfront capital cliff, but are still pretty blatant.

  •  Robot envy... (19+ / 0-)

    ...Curiosity doesn't have to interact with "you people"!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:26:11 PM PDT

  •  Anyone smart enough to appreciate (18+ / 0-)

    the political lessons of such a project already does.  The rest of the people either think it's an ivory tower toy for intelleckshulls whose funding should have all been delivered in buckets to some military contractor for an Acme weapons system to "defend" us against threats that don't exist, or else spent inoculating children in Cameroon and setting up gender studies scholarships.

    Republicans would rather live in shit than be seen working a shovel.

    by Troubadour on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:28:32 PM PDT

    •  Is There an Implied Equivalency There? (5+ / 0-)

      The Cameroonians and gender studies are genuine needs, not that one probe mission would seriously dent either problem.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:31:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To me, its just an illucidation of a couple of (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Troubadour, Canis Aureus

        very real mindsets.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:46:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sometimes it's more effective to deal with (9+ / 0-)

        one problem by solving another first.  Which do you think would be a faster track to making the third world a better place:

        1.  Continuing to try to guilt rich people into behaving responsibly and harangue the oppressed into organizing...


        2.  Continue increasing the economic, scientific, and technological resources of humanity in general, so that all opportunities increase across the board?

        Obviously these aren't mutually exclusive, but the question of which is more powerful has already been answered by history.  The cellular phone and social networking have done more for the Third World than all traditional charity and external politics ever have.  And space travel - even limited to millionaires at first - will do more for all of this world than any technology ever has.  I study the subject deeply, and I tell you that is my overwhelming conclusion.

        Republicans would rather live in shit than be seen working a shovel.

        by Troubadour on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:55:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yes! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Here's a link to Afrigadget, a site for technological solutions in Africa.  There are boatloads of these projects -- Troubadour, are there other good sites?

          •  I'm not that deep into the subject (6+ / 0-)

            I just know about major advancements that have been made in Africa through general science and technology sites like MIT's Technology Review and Scientific American.  

            The biggest deal is this: Cellphones, sat-phones, and GPS have allowed people in the Third World to circumvent the limitations of infrastructure by calling for services anywhere, and being able to locate each other anywhere.  People who had to wait several days for medical attention to arrive can get it within hours.  The costs in both time and economic value inflicted by poor road conditions and poorly-mapped territories have been drastically reduced.

            It's also profoundly increased the effectiveness of traditional charity and volunteer work, since they can get food, water, shelter, and medicine to needed areas from central depots far more quickly.

            Republicans would rather live in shit than be seen working a shovel.

            by Troubadour on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 08:23:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Just imagine it. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The lift market expanding into equatorial Africa.

  •  I had the same thought: a boost for Obama (15+ / 0-)

    This incredibly complex mission brought back to us old timers the exhilaration of the moon landings, initiated by John Kennedy and carried out with extraordinary courage and scientific/technological expertise.  Clearly, given adequate resources and the commitment of bright people, government can accomplish much.  The mantra of Ronnie Reagan that government is the problem was unfair to hard working public servants and has been extremely detrimental to the country.  The notion that only the private sector and corporatocracy can do things efficiently and effectively is right-wing nonsense.  Greed and profit are not the only motivators in this country and among the American people.  This was vividly demonstrated in the joy in the control room at NASA when Curiousity made its successful landing.  Bravo!

    Is inheriting a fortune a form of entitlement?

    by djohnutk on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:31:19 PM PDT

  •  You have a great angle on this LeftOfYou (15+ / 0-)

    Earlier today, I was looking for an excuse to post a whole bunch of the cool space pictures released from Curiosity today, which I often used to do, under the "now for something completely different -- space news" justification.

    Just because they are super cool and fun.

    But, given how hot the election competition is, I chickened out remembering  some folks around here occasionally complain about the number of "non-Democratic Party-Let's win elections" posts.  

    I was trying to think of a reason of why I could say why posting these great Mars photos would help us elect "more and better Democrats" then got distracted by Santorum bursts out laughing at Romney's ACA debacle.

    Maybe I'll quote you tomorrow, suggesting that NASA research and exploration advances our technology, stimulates our economy, elevates our spirits, increases our national prestige, better educates our people, and demonstrates the competency and capability of government programs.    And, also provides us future places we might send Republicans for rehabilitation camps so they can be cured and returned as productive members of society.

    If anyone complains I'll refer them to you.  :-)

    Thanks for posting this.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:34:35 PM PDT

  •  Yes, once we agree that government can and does do (6+ / 0-)

    many great things that private industry can not efficiently do for itself, then it is a "no-brainer' to suggest that we ought to have Democrats who truly believe in government leading it.  Rather than this GOP obstructionists whose declared goal is to "so weaken government they can drown it in a bathtub."

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:38:10 PM PDT

  •  Unfortunately, those that got it there (14+ / 0-)

    are most likely outa there.

    The Inside Story on How NASA Invented Curiosity’s Insane Landing System

    Adam Steltzner spent nine years working to turn seven minutes of terror into NASA's finest hour since the landing of Apollo 11 on the Sea of Tranquility.
    Hopefully, many of these men and women will work together again. But it's still not clear what will happen next.  America may have shown the world that it still has what it takes to make reality the seemingly impossible. Nobody has the talent, knowledge and technological prowess to pull this kind of feat. The statistics are stubborn. But while NASA had one of the biggest success in the history of interplanetary exploration, the future is quite dark. Steltzner wants to go to Europa, the Jupiter moon where scientists believe there's life. Not fossils or traces of life, but actual life lurking in its oceans.

    But even while that mission would only cost another two billion dollars—all of it to be spent in the country's economy, not sent to space in bag—there's nothing planned. Nothing at all.

    Job done for many.  No budget.  Futures plans limited to "independent" companies supplying the Space Station.  

    Doesn't strike me as a way to rally anyone.

    I so wish this was not the case, we have lost our exploratory horizons..."to boldly go" and all that...

    FYI  Gizmodo will host a live chat with Adam next Monday 8/13 to answer your questions live

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:40:31 PM PDT

    •  First the sizzle. Then, hopefully some steak. (4+ / 0-)

      Kennedy had a lot to work with to get people excited. It was a space race against the Godless Communists in an age of testosterone fueled missile envy. Our modern field isn't as fertile as that, but then again, JFK didn't have social media, a 24/7 new cycle and a Worldwide synergistic pop culture. Enough of the right kind of buzz can mean more and better funding in the future. Giving up now has less potential. There is a lot to be excited about in Mars Exploration right now. That can't be bad for the good guys.

      The stain of Bain is wrecking Romney's name. h/t to Lerner & Lowe

      by LeftOfYou on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:48:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not that WE THE PEOPLE know of...anyway. (0+ / 0-)
    •  A gentle but informative summary. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Of Martian landing options.

      In broad, you can either orient landing propulsion below the center of gravity (legged landing) or above the center of gravity (drag, and suspending payload from the lift unit [crane is a specific case]).  That's a pretty reasonable closure on the space of options there.  Then you can combine with other options for killing your remaining unsafe kinetic energy prior to touch down: rigid legs, wheels on suspension, inflatable protection, etc.  

      I suspect orienting propulsion above is going to be the future for heavier payloads heading down to Mars, but there's so little certainty about the space of secondary configurations that NASA might do well to compete designs next time around.

  •  you think, in a couple hundred years.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou, Odysseus, BusyinCA

    when a major portion of Homo sapiens is living on other planets, they will finally shut up about gov't programs?

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:43:46 PM PDT

    •  They actually love government programs. (5+ / 0-)

      That's never been the real issue. As my favorite law school professor never tired of pointing out, what it's really about is whose ox is getting gored.

      The World's Mitt Romneys love government programs that line their own pockets, like accelerated depreciation and loss carryovers and depletion allowances and the rest. But if the money is going to the 99% it's wasteful and inefficient, even though, when that happens, people spend it all right away and the whole economy improves, including for rich folks.  

      The stain of Bain is wrecking Romney's name. h/t to Lerner & Lowe

      by LeftOfYou on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:55:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i've been using it on facebook (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou, BusyinCA

    to combat the "you didn't build that" idiots, and came across this lovely editorial from sydney...

    in case anyone's interested.  

    i was just so frustrated that the same people who piss and moan when "their" tax dollars pay for frivolous things like teachers, and public works, were the same folks posting the 'eagle face in front of an american flag' memes with captions like "london hosts the olympics/we go to mars"...sigh...and so i have been trying to use the curiosity as a really good example of the value of education and public, tl/dr, yes, i agree...'we' should own this...

    "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say"~Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by 73rd virgin on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:45:15 PM PDT

  •  IMHO, the Prez election is in good hands (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, BusyinCA, neighborm

    and most of us are already helping.  Where the big push is needed is the down ticket races.  We need to buff up our Senate majority and attempt to take back the House.

    I'm not liberal. I'm actually just anti-evil, OK? - Elon James White

    by Satya1 on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:53:22 PM PDT

  •  Conclusive evidence of life on Mars (5+ / 0-)

    should shut up the creationists for all time, but in reality:

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 07:56:07 PM PDT

  •  USA only country doing interplanetary exploration (4+ / 0-)

    USA is the only country "going where no human has gone before..."
    The Mars mission could be very helpful to Obama's campaign; and it needs to be framed well.  

    I found it sad to see so little commentary on this site.  This was a great achievement.

  •  thanks for an interesting diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freesia, BusyinCA

    LeftOfYou, I think you'd be pleased to have seen the number of Kossacks who stayed up liveblogging through the entire Curiosity landing.   Meteor Blades has also introduced it as a topic into the overnight open threads, and there's been plenty of interest.

    Then, there's the Romney quote at this link supplied by LeftOfYou:

    "NASA really represents the best that American private companies can accomplish.  The President probably wants you to think that the government deserves all the credit for this, but we know better my friends. This landing," concluded the former Governor, "was brought to you by the free market."
    I think techies all know that guy:  the imperious, clueless spreadsheet ranger who shows up in the facility spouting nonsense like the quote above, not even understanding that his natty suit makes him an object of derision among the techies.

    Excepting the most rabid Randroids, I think that quote could earn Willard a fair number of instant enemies in the tech community.

    Kossack techies, what do you think?

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      this just in, BusyinCA

      the diary at that link was snark and the quote is ironic, not factual. So far as I know, as I said, Romney hasn't spoken up about the mission nor have his campaign or surrogates done so either. They have relentlessly been staying on their chosen messages of "welfare reform is in danger" and "Obama's people are lying about poor Mitt". Since Mitt doesn't hardly ever talk to a reporter who would bring it up to him, I doubt Romney will mention the mission, unless events introduce the idea of funding things like the Curiosity Mission into the campaign. If enough people start fixating on the mission, the media will follow suit, especially if breakthrough discoveries come in the next three months. The GOP stands no chance of making hay from a popular mission but that's not true of Dems.

      The stain of Bain is wrecking Romney's name. h/t to Lerner & Lowe

      by LeftOfYou on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 08:16:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I ran across this the other day (9+ / 0-)

    I was gobsmacked. What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory? There are Christians against set theory? Really? WTF?

    Turns out that, way back in 1874, Georg Cantor talked about different flavors of infinities and proved that some infinities are larger than others (that’s the short version). And apparently some Christians get angry and say “There is only one infinity, and that is God.” The author of the boingboing article goes on to explain that it’s really a problem with modernism. It’s a good article.

    The fundamentalists have a really odd attitude toward science. On the one hand, they believe in atomic bombs and internal combustion engines. But they don’t believe in climate change (so they don’t believe in real science). But they want to create their own science of creationism/intelligent design (so they do believe in calling things science if they’re based on the myths of 3000+ years ago). But they don’t believe in evolution. And don’t get me started on their economic theories (which I call Job Creationism).

    But the angle said to them, "Do not be Alfred. A sailor has been born to you"

    by Dbug on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 08:35:19 PM PDT

  •  i'm hoping they find evidence of existing life on (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tommy Jones the Band

    the Red Planet before the election.  be a nice kick in the teeth to alot of the young earth bible thumpers.

    When I die, I want to go peacefully, in my sleep, like my Grandpa did -- not crying and screaming, like everyone else in his car.

    by bnasley on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 09:26:12 PM PDT

  •  The Repugs will not see any value in this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, BusyinCA, prfb

    mission. They will use it to point out what they will perceive as wasteful government spending and a driving up of the defecit. We have GOT to learn to think about how they think and not view events through the progressive/intellectual lens. This mission is ammunition for them, if they are smart enough to even pay attention to it.  

    "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

    by rubyr on Thu Aug 09, 2012 at 09:52:51 PM PDT

    •  Repugs only want $ in THEIR pockets, not ours. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Therefore, since they see no payola in it for them... they wish to take those funds for themselves.
      Same old game.
      Time for CHANGE is NOW!

      The GOP says you have to have an ID to vote, but Million dollar donors should remain anonymous

      •  Well, not CHANGE, same. I believe if (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BusyinCA, Russgirl

        President Obama gets a second term with a 1/2 decent Congress, we will see some significant progressive forward movement.

        "Southern nights have you ever felt a southern night?" Allen Toussaint ~~Remember the Gulf of Mexico~~

        by rubyr on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 10:24:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good - THEN could we get these negative monkeys (0+ / 0-)

          off Obama's back?  You know, to be free to clean up the mess BushCo left behind?

          Progress is slow, but I do believe IS happening! ;)

          At first I looked for
          the pen of fate,
          and the tablet on which it wrote,
          and heaven and hell
          in the skies above.
          Then my teacher
          guided me, saying that
          all four lie within you
    •  You've got it right (0+ / 0-)

      Unless you can successfully translate "Mars Rover" into Stupid-Speak, it's just one more pointy-headed boondoggle to the FOX crowd.

  •  If Curiosity rolls up to Mt Sharp (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pistolSO, BusyinCA

    and finds banded iron formations and fossil stromatolites, I suppose a small fraction of the Republican base will experience major theological angst. (Roughly the same fraction of the Republican base who think that Adam rode dinosaurs.)

    But would that change the election? I seriously doubt it.

  •  The mission isn't a success yet.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BusyinCA, Parthenia

    ....there's still a lot that could go wrong. The mission has only just begun. Murphy's law applies on mars too i suspect.

    Yes, i'm excited about Curiosity and follow it closely. I believe that the rover may well venture over to the base of mount sharp, or to the edge of the crater, and find a huge discovery but, a lot of things still have to go exactly right for that to be able to happen.

    Conversely, if the rover's computer(s) decided to shut themselves down today, the mission would be considered a failure and the republicans would beat us silly with that until the election. So much rides on this mission.

    Carry on wayward son. There'll be peace when you are done!!

    If corporations are people, what am I??

    by suspiciousmind on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 04:26:26 AM PDT

  •  And your answer is: (0+ / 0-)


    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 05:23:11 AM PDT

  •  The Curiosity Rover does have a laser on it, so (3+ / 0-)

    if Obama declares, "we have successfully deployed the Curiosity-class autonomous combat vehicle on the enemy planet Mars, and have thus far met light resistance. Soon, the vehicle will conquer a nearby mountain, and raise the American flag there, Mount Suribachi style, and Mars will finally be subjugated to our rule!"

    --Then, and only then, will Republicans be impressed.

  •  I think it played well. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, BusyinCA

    I saw news of it all over Facebook and some general gossip sites I read.  There was interest in the guy who has a mohawk.

    It also is playing well with a set some of you don't see.  And that is school children.  The last mission to Mars Pathfinder was very interactive for kids.  These kids go home and excitably tell their parents (of any political preference) about the details.  That rubs off.

  •  I think @sarcastic rover (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trueblueliberal, BusyinCA

    might be even more significant.  I'm not a Twitter fan but it's charming, funny, and sneaks a lot of science positives in.  My daughter and I have already adopted "Let's do a science!"

    it's a brilliant way to both personalize science and make it interesting.

      It would be so perfect to cause the billions spent denigrating science and intelligence to evaporate, with nothing more than a clever Twitter account.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 06:02:19 AM PDT

  •  Romney got to Mars for free. (0+ / 0-)

    No Federal Income Tax for 10 years.  I see that side of the political.

    . . . from Julie, Julia. "Oh, well. Boo-hoo. Now what?"

    by 88kathy on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:10:52 AM PDT

  •  Look, we know science costs $$ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And that science is critically important.  BUT, the reason that President Obama isn't crowing about this scientific achievement is because of the cost, and overruns.  It doesn't matter that most of it happened under W, had a billion over budget isn't a drop in the bucket.  

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 07:22:05 AM PDT

  •  Team Obama rigged the schedule (0+ / 0-)

    Clearly Team Obama rigged the orbits of Mars and Earth to align on schedule for the presidential election.

    Seriously, I believe space science missions are vital to human advancement, and the Obama policy of privatizing manned exploration of space to commercial enterprises, while keeping scientific missions public is exactly right (if that policy can actually be implemented over R objections).  But this is probably too arcane to influence electoral politics, other than getting a few headlines from mission success.

  •  A Democratic "Oh Look, a Duck" option exists.... (4+ / 0-)

    ... and in a good way.

    Using the hype and excitement over.... USA! USA! USA!... the great accomplishment and how much more we can do with some of the Stimulus II monies aimed at NASA and even greater future accomplishments.

    Hold it in reserve and spring this as a positive Oct surprise.

    Personally I want $Trillions spent on space efforts. It kills two birds.... stimulus, and keeping the military contractors and skilled workers employed building constructive rather than destructive machinery, peaceful endeavors' etc ....  while preserving our infrastructure for military manufacturing if something happens and the need arises.

    We need more space stations, we need communications arrays for Mars, We need to be cataloging and keeping an eye on asteroids/comets, we need ever bigger telescopes, we need more powerful interplanetary engines, we need a fleet of ships to travel to Mars and the asteroid belt for exploration and exploitation.

    It seems like "make work" yet remember, every dime ever spent by NASA has been paid back to society 10X through the technological breakthroughs and industries they create.

    •  Prospect Mars, but don't hope for much. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Jester

      At least hope for much that can't be extracted elsewhere in the Solar System at less cost.

      In the near term, while more powerful rockets (nuclear thermal, for example) for impulse transportation are definitely in order, we can also make great use of power-limited, high endurance engines (solar/nuclear electric) that accelerate continuously.  Once you start assembling spacecraft where they belong--in space--you have a lot of options for accessing the rest of the solar system faster and with greater frequency.

  •  Cheaper than a movie (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Russgirl, BusyinCA, Parthenia

    My favorite comment from the post-landing press conference was that this cost every American $7 - far cheaper than a movie - and that this movie would be running for a long time. The analogy demonstrates the incredible value of the mission and the beneficial power of taxation. Where it breaks down is that this mission brings far more than entertainment value. It could shed light on one of the most important questions we face as a species: are we alone in the universe?

    If atheism is a religion, then not playing chess is a hobby.

    by Max Wyvern on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 09:54:29 AM PDT

  •  I'm with you LOU this is spectacular! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We can all be proud, engaged for the long haul.  Yes let's give NASA more money. This is far better than a new bomber or tank.  Yikes maybe it is a new stealth tank for space.  Anyway I love it and think it is way more interesting than the Olympics and Romney and what he will or won't do.  USA USA.

  •  I don't know if it will have much of an affect (0+ / 0-)

    But probably enough to make the difference in an election like 2000.

    "Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is." - George W Bush

    by jfern on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 11:42:28 AM PDT

  •  Could Curiosity affect the election? (0+ / 0-)

    A resounding YES.  It's liable to stumble across the President's true birthplace.

    The "invisible hand" doesn't regulate the market - it wanks it. -- SantaFeMarie

    by Dinclusin on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 12:42:45 PM PDT

  •  Probably would have had a bigger effect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if it had failed: it's have gone into the Republican bin of 'government boondoggles' to beat up Democratic candidates, regardless of the facts in this case (like the initial stages of Curiosity's planning taking place way back in 2004.)   Candidates running on a promise to increase science funding would have a tougher time.

    But since it was a success, it's a harder sell.  It's exciting and awesome and as someone who wishes we were spending more on science research, I couldn't be happier.  I just don't expect much of voters who are already inclined to complain about government spending.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 01:56:23 PM PDT

  •  You are correct (0+ / 0-)

    this whole thing has been just plain awesome and some really think that it was just okay, makes me want to strangle them.  We have had success and failure in our space programs and one of the biggest mistakes was to take our ideas off the table for means to get to the space station and to hitch rides there and back with what Willard Romney calls, out biggest threat.

    So, here we are, a huge step into more knowledge about us and how we can continue and nothing much from anyone about what this actually means and how it was financed and done.  These folks did a fantastic job of just getting it there, but to land it and to get pictures and much much more, priceless.  I agree, more needs to be said about this partnership for the good of all.

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