Yesterday I switched back and forth between watching news of the Phoenix lander arrival on Mars and listening to an NPR program about detainees tortured at Gitmo.
In 1997 I was in Chile when the Pathfinder mission arrived at Mars. I'm not all that given to patriotic expressions, but the widespread fascination that the Chilean news media had with the Mars mission gave me a sense of pride as an American, something my country did that was admired globally. What a strange perspective yesterday, then, seeing the best and the worst of America being expressed.
I feel like focusing on the best instead of the worst. We might know within a week whether the polygonal cracks in Mars' polar surfaces have filled in part with ice, which could only happen if pre-existing ice melted and flowed into the cracks - in other words, proof of liquid water at the Martian surface in geologically recent time periods, and therefore a potential habitat for life.
We need more of the best and an end to the worst.
Counting down to the Mars Science Laboratory liftoff next year....