Phoenix Descends

A Martian Moment Captured

Had to pass this on, which I saw at the Planetary Society weblog: The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter managed to capture a picture of the Phoenix lander as it descended to the Red Planet. In the words of the Planetary Society blog: “a speeding bullet photographed by a speeding bullet”.

I often find Phil “The Bad Astronomer” Plait’s skepti-geek rants a little tiresome and superficial, but on this one I appreciated his pure excitement at such a cool shot (Youtube video). Sometimes we become a little ambivalent about space exploration – but a shot like this makes us realise some of the spectacular things humanity has achieved. We have these machines orbiting around and landing on another planet. Maybe in a few centuries it might seem ho-hum and even antiquated (in terms of technological knowledge), but it will always be recognised in the future as a great historical era. We live in the time when humanity has learnt how to leave our own rock, and navigate space. That’s pretty damn amazing.