(in Martian years) since I last updated this blog. In Earth years, it’s been closer to five. I’m inspired to post on this blog again because of a job posting I saw online for a writer and social media maven for the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. I’m going to apply, though the odds are slim, because it looks like it would use both my desire to work in science communication and my developing MLIS skills. So there you are. Science communication — #SciComm — is a dream I continue to hold on to.
Last week I, along with many, many other people, watched NASA’s new rover, Perseverance, land on Mars last Thursday (18 February 2021 at about 1:55 pm PST). A couple of things about the landing program struck me.
First, there were a lot of women involved with the Mars mission. I didn’t keep track, so I don’t know for sure, but I was glad to see them. Also, of the three “kid scientists” I saw asking questions about the mission, one was a Black girl, one was Latina, and the third was a Latino boy. I loved seeing this sort of diversity in a program devoted to science.
Second, the end of the program featured a montage of children cheering in front of dioramas, pictures, posters, models, and so on, of Mars and various missions. I loved that. The choice of music that they played over the montage — David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” — was… odd. Even though the Perseverance mission is exactly about finding life on Mars, the song is, according to Bowie, about a young girl who sees the promise of a greater world beyond hers and is frustrated that she has no access to it. An odd juxtaposition, but I guess I understand the media team’s thinking. “It’s about Mars!”
But watching the landing itself was the highlight.
One of my favorite things to watch is a NASA mission control center when a mission is completed: when a lander lands on the Moon, or on an asteroid or flies past Pluto or lands on Mars. The ranks of scientists burst into applause. There’s such exuberance, relief, and even joy in that room that viewers can’t help share in it. Even if you weren’t in that room, if you didn’t participate in the mission, don’t even work for NASA or JPL, that’s something you can share in. Hundreds of women and men participated, but it’s something that we did.
I still get chills every time I watch the landing video. And I’m excited for what the new Mars rover will accomplish.