Wednesday, May 28


There was also an interesting piece in today’s Guardian by Colin Pillinger, the head of the Beagle II project, responding to Phoenix’s landing. The column comes across as pretty bitter and pessimistic. He still seems tormented by the failure of Beagle II and the promise it had to make some pretty important discoveries – discoveries that will now pass Britain by. And ExoMars, “if it happens,” might be obsolete by the time Mars Science Laboratory (NASA’s next rover) gets there in 2010.

Cheer up, Colin! Mars exploration isn’t nearly as proprietary as it once was, and all findings are available to all via NASA’s website. Britain’s participation is to be lauded, not mourned – Imperial has a presence on Phoenix and is playing a leading role in ExoMars. Besides, just because one rover makes important discoveries doesn’t preclude an equally productive mission from a successor. By wisely selecting a landing site, an entirely new set of questions can be answered. This global coverage is crucial if we hope to have anything beyond a cosmetic understanding of the planet and its habitability, past, present, and future.

In other news, got a call today at about 2 in the afternoon offering me a half price ticket to go see the US vs England tonight at Wembley! Should be incredible, and hopefully Landon Donovan and the boys will take care of business. Too bad my only football shirt bears Michael Owen’s name…

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