Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
Reaching Towards the Sky
Children are fascinated by the stars. They learn early on that these brilliant little specks are located at distances far beyond the imaginable. Despite that, they still reach, their small hands straining to touch the sparkling gems. The sky, they are told, is a wonderful thing, where warmth, light, beautiful rainbows, and the light trickle of spring rain come from. But they are also told that that sky may bring storms, winds of incomprehensible power, darkness and bitter cold. The sky has its own temper tantrums, its happy thoughts, its chilling fears. What could be so unpredicatable, so fascinating, and so powerful? What is beyond this great shroud of the Earth? What does the Master of the Skies have to tell beyond our thin veil, and out to the stars?
The Master has many stories to tell... In a great cloud of stars, one of many, there is a small yellow star, Mother Sol, who has nine children. Four of the children, though small, bear great sturdiness and strength. They stay near to Mother Sol, keeping her company, and receiving the fruits of her warmth, each and every day. The elder siblings, the titanian four, stand guard along the outer walls of the province. They are giants, superior, grand and mighty, all with their own brood to care for. And last, is the tiny baby, the runt of the family, who gallantly roams to and fro about his kin.
This is no foreign, fairytale family. This is our own. This is the Solar System — the birthplace of humanity — loving hearth.
Earth, the third sibling, has a very mysterious brother, the forth. Its name is Mars. He has many secrets, some of lively, dynamic times, periods of great uphevals, brimming reservoirs, massive impacts; some are of cold, desolate, arid eons. Mars holds his words closely, though, keeping the unabated young Earth at bay. He will not be so easily forthwith. Earth is not deterred, but graciously accepts the lent wisdom, for it is beneficial for the young Earth to learn about his kin and history — not as an etched slate of how to follow, but as a guiding vane to which one improves and sets new paths on.
On August 12th†, Mother Sol's third child, the Earth, will again set forth to uncover the mysteries of Mars. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, built by the voyageurs of today, will bring unprecedented knowledge to the peoples of Earth, tales of their past, images of their present, clues to their future. It will bring us back to the innocent moments, when we thought the sky was a grand, mystical place. The sky is not a place to conquer, but a place for us to be conquered, to make us humble, yet not to keep us stagnant and naïve. The Master of the Skies invites us to listen and learn from his stories, to appreciate what we have, what we are — our place in the universe. So let him guide us to our sibling Mars, so that we may become enlightened and humble, and try to touch the stars.
For information about NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit: http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/
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- 9 August 2005
11 August 2005
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