The Fourth of July, aside from being America’s boom-go-pow-fireworks birthday, is the anniversary of the Mars Pathfinder landing on the Red Planet.
On July 4, 1997, the Pathfinder touched down on Mars, demonstrating NASA’s ability for low-cost planetary exploration. The voyage also showcased NASA’s aptitude to create rovers, like the Sojourner, that could separate from a lander to roam planets doing science and shit. (i.e., tests on climate, atmosphere, geology, etc.)
Though the little Sojourner-that-could was only expected to last up to four weeks, it transmitted data to scientists for almost three months.
In the past 20 years, eight other NASA landers and orbiters have arrived successfully on Mars, giving the U.S. a dedicated research presence on the Red Planet. Their discoveries have provided our first steps to a human presence on planets other than Earth.
In a 2017 lecture called “The Future of Humanity,” Stephen Hawking predicted that a human base could be established on the moon in 30 years. Following that, within 50 years a Mars base could be established.
Given the current political administration’s atrocious stance on protecting Earth from climate change and pollution, those gateways to secondary planets are becoming more imperative.
Patty TempletonDGO Staff Writer