It’s amazing that the Mars Rovers, which landed over four years ago, are still transmitting data back to earth about the Martian surface. After all, these two robots had a 90 day life expectancy but they have outperformed in a truly hostile environment for well beyond their inventors’ wildest expectations.
Next spring, just as presidential primary races are crowing a front runner, the Rovers will be joined by the Phoenix Mars Lander, which was launched from Earth just a few days ago. If all goes according to plans, it will be the first man-made vehicle to touch down in the far northern climes of Mars, in an area like our Arctic Circle. There, it will drill into ancient ice and dust–expected to be as hard as concrete–scoop up samples, mix them and bake them and measure the quantity of water and the types of organic matter that might be preserved in it. This dirt-digging machine will also measure the atmosphere thanks to new technology invented in Canada. (In fact this is a joint mission between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency).
The Phoenix Mars Lander was designed and built by Lockheed Martin, one of our nation’s pre-eminent space and aerospace manufacturers. Catch that word “manufacturers?” The only countries that can send something as sophisticated as this Lander to a far-off planet and have it transmit back incredible volumes of data are countries that excel in manufacturing, like the U.S. and Canada. Some NAM members have built components for these robots, including ACE Clearwater Enterprises in Torrance, California which has parts on the Rovers. Imagine a job where what you built is used in space exploration?! That has to be one of the coolest careers today’s men and women could ever imagine.
The picture above shows Lockheed scientists working on the Phoenix Lander.
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