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How to COMPLETELY miss the point…

It’s not often that a story on a website makes me want to hurl my laptop through a window in rage, but JPL’s Veronica McGregor just highlighted one in a post on Twitter…

NASA Run by Children [PIC]_1243620122712

Oh hahahahaha, you’re soooo funny mate! See? Satire IS alive and well! Laugh? I thought I’d never start.

Seriously tho, this guy is COMPLETELY missing the point – as well as having half of his story just about 100000% wrong.

For a start, the idea to use the rover’s “camera arm” to push it up and free it from its and trap isn’t going to be tried by NASA, it’s totally impractical. But it is a cute idea from a kid who clearly has a great interest in science and space exploration, and genuinely wanted to help. I think it’s fantastic that a kid of that age felt strongly enough about this to take the time to put his idea down on paper and send it to NASA!  All credit to him – and to the guys on the MER team who, I know, have responded to his suggestion generously and warmly. But that’s no surprise; they’re generous and warm people, and I’m very proud to call at least a few of them friends.

Now. The naming of the Mars rover… sigh…

I genuinely wanted to reach into my screen and grab this guy by the neck when I read his criticism of this. So, let me get this straight… NASA inviting children to get personally involved in one of the biggest, most ambitious, most exciting space exploration projects of the next decade is a BAD thing?!?! NASA actively seeking input from the people who pay for their expensive hardware is WRONG?!?! NASA helping kids to feel part of their work is a MISTAKE!?!

Slap.

My thoughts on the naming of MSL are pretty well known by now. I thought the shortylist of names was rather poor and uninspiring, and the one I wanted to win was “Amelia”, but I seem to have been the only person on the planet who did. They’ve one with “Curiosity” and already, in just a couple of days, it’s grown on me, and whenever I see a pic of the rover I now think of it as “Curiosity”, it’s embedded in my brain already. Criticising NASA for opening up the naming process to youngsters is ridiculous and pathetic, they should be praised for it.

Like I said, this guy is completely missing the point. Although much more is spent on things like junk food, cosmetics and the like, space exploration is expensive, very expensive, and many people question the amount of money spent on it. It’s only right that they should be made to feel part of what NASA does, and NASA goes to incredible lengths to try and make sure they are, with countless blogs, Twitter sites, open days and other things. NASA also lets people “sign their names” on spaceprobes heading off to distant planets, which is a brilliant way of making the people who pay their bills feel involved. Naming competitions, like the one for Curiosity, are a great way of increasing public involvement – and interest – in the space program.

So, Mr Miss The Point, get off your high horse, and instead of criticising it for being democratic, be proud that NASA opens itself and its programs up to the public. And as for Russia (“Russkies”? I thought that term died back in the 1980s and ROCKY V…) “winning the space race”… newsflash… there IS no “space race” with Russia, we’re partners with them in the ISS project. The next “space race” will probably be with China and the Asian countries, not Russia.

But apart from all those errors, misunderstandings and undeserved criticisms, nice article.. ;-)

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3 Responses

  1. I think you meant 1980s not 2980s.
    The rest is well said… :)

  2. Don’t worry Stu – some years hence there will be a young man named Julian working for NASA and then who’ll be laughing? That’s a cracking idea even if it isn’t possible – a few more 7 year-olds showing initiative like that and there may be hope for us yet!!

    As for Curiosity, it could have been worse and it’s growing on me too – let’s face it – Spirit wouldn’t care what it’s name was if it could go up now and pull her out of her hole! Now there’s an idea!! ;-)

  3. Very well said indeed, Stu. This Jack character is an obtuse mocking ass.

    Re “Curiosity”: We’ll get used to it. The outreach value of involving children during this era of exploration far outweighs the esthetics of nomenclature. (For that matter, it’ll always be MSL to the aficianados just as Spirit & Opportunity are the MERs!)

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