The triumph of Curiosity
Published by the Visayan Daily Star Publications, Inc.
|NINFA R. LEONARDIA|
Editor-in-Chief & President
NIDA A. BUENAFE
MAJA P. DELY
ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA|
The Curiosity rover of the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration completed its eight and a half month, 352 million mile journey from Earth yesterday and successfully touched down on the planet Mars. Curiosity is the size of a small car and is the largest and most advanced machine scientists have ever attempted to send to another planet. The robot is a roving geochemistry laboratory, equipped with a suite of powerful instruments and capable of vaporizing rocks and ingesting Martian soil. The mission is expected to revolutionize scientists’ understanding of Mars by scouring an ancient meteor crater and a mountain for the building blocks of life in an effort to determine whether the planet is or was habitable.
Charles Elachi, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that is managing the $2.5 billion Curiosity mission, turned to the words of Teddy Roosevelt during the final hours of flight: “Far better it is to do mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
Judging from the successful touchdown and the initial images of Mars sent through the rover, Curiosity has, so far, been a glorious triumph for NASA, the United States, and even mankind. We wish the mission the best of luck and hope that it can pave the way for further breakthroughs, explorations, and hopefully even make it possible for humans to set foot on Mars.
We in the Philippines may be nowhere near capable of achieving a similar feat soon, but we cannot forgo this opportunity to marvel at the things made possible by science and remind ourselves of its wonder and importance to a nation, especially in a place where such a subject and a vocation has not gotten much attention from either the government or the private sector. Technology is constantly improving and the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars proves that boundaries are still being broken.
With the proper support, the Filipino scientist can still shine and contribute to future breakthroughs and discoveries. But until we empower our present and future scientists with the education and the means to continue their studies and research, our brand of science will always stay in gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.*