Take a look at the incredible images coming from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. These images are not so incredible for their inherent beauty but because of the technology that makes them so.
Scientists and engineers had to target this small craft to reach the surface of Mars after traveling 300 million miles — not a misprint. One scientist noted that not only was the launch of the initial vehicle important but so were issues like the molten lava at the center of Earth, plate tectonics, and how “plasma in the atmosophere delayed radio signals to and from” something called the Deep Space Network, a series of antennas that connect interplanetary ships to the folks in “Houston.” The craft itself, entering the Martian atmosphere, will be as hot as the surface of the sun, yet it does not melt. It’s all incredibly sophisticated science and it makes the wonder of the Web, my usual concern, seem almost feeble.
The truly beautiful imagery available on the same site is that of the graphic artist who illustrated how the craft made it from here to there. Look at this one and this one, for instance. Is it odd that the digital work of the NASA illustrator is more fascinating than the near realtime photography of the Rover robot? I think not. The engineering behind the wondrousness of the project is what is astounding. In the end, the beauty of Mars is only as deep as its human counterparts.

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