“Curiosity” Kills Life on Mars
3…2..1… Liftoff! This morning (11/26/2011) NASA launched a rocket into space carrying a nuclear powered vehicle bound for the planet Mars. This vehicle, about the size of a compact car, dubbed “Curiosity” will, if all goes according to plan, allow scientists to drive all over Mars, drill holes in solid rock, and maybe tell whether life ever existed on Mars.
Of course, if this new Mars rover gets too close to anything alive on Mars, that plutonium will kill it for sure. 8lb of plutonium is enough to kill every man woman and child on the planet, enough to wipe out the human race. All you need to do is put just a few atoms of it in each person’s lung. They could easily breath it in and wouldn’t even know it. But soon, lung cancer for everyone, guaranteed.
How would you do it? Well, say you put that 8lb of plutonium in a rocket, launch it, and when it reaches just the right altitude, blow it up. That would vaporize the plutonium and scatter it all over the world. As it slowly settled back to earth, people would unwittingly breath it into their lungs. That probably wouldn’t get every single human, but enough of us to make a dent in our population for sure.
Why on earth would NASA want to send a nuclear powered rover to Mars? The last two rovers they sent, “Spirit”, and “Opportunity”, both solar powered, far exceeded their expected life-span and mission goals. Year after year they kept driving these old jalopies around, taking pictures, doing donuts, and joy riding around on the martian surface for many times longer than NASA ever expected them to remain operational. If I got that kind of satisfaction out of a vehicle, I sure wouldn’t change brands when I finally did need a new car.
But NASA went with the nuclear option, and sent 8lb of highly radioactive plutonium hurtling through space towards Mars. How will this look to the Martians? I mean, lets assume some form of life does exist on Mars. It is still an open question after all. What will they think, next August, when this bundle of joy finally arrives at its destination?
They’ve already seen the two little solar powered rovers. These rovers had cameras, and a little pickup arm. They only operated in broad daylight, and aside from a couple of rocks, all they took were pictures, and all they left were tread marks. The martians probably thought they were tourists. Except for the fact that we abandoned the vehicles there, we probably haven’t made too many enemies yet.
Hell, NASA could abandon one of their solar powered rovers on my property any day. I’d find a use for those solar panels, motors, wheels and cameras. I wouldn’t hold it against them.
Some of the more paranoid martians must have realized that “Opportunity” and “Spirit” were spies, but without any evidence of weapons or ill intent, the rest of the martians probably thought of those first two rovers as nothing more than a novelty.
Now, however, we’re sending 8lb of plutonium, enough to make a nuclear bomb, and a drill that can bore through solid rock. Suddenly a planet that never embraced nuclear power, now has a nuclear waste problem. They already know that we abandon our cars wherever they break down.
How do you think life on Mars will feel about this? How would the US react if you, as a foreigner, entered the country illegally, carrying 8lb of plutonium, a drill capable of boring through solid rock, a chemistry lab and all kinds of high-tech surveillance equipment? You’d find yourself in a hot sunny cage overlooking beautiful Guantanamo Bay, in about three minutes. If you showed up in a military uniform, and all of that stuff had military insignia on it from say, North Korea, President Obama might have a few choice words for Kim Jung-Ill. He might call it an act of aggression. He might call it an act of war.
Certainly, it would present a foreign relations boondoggle, and rightly so. If you ever hope to have friendly relations with me, don’t send a rock-boring robot with an unblinking eye, that sends my Geiger counter off the chart, as your first ambassador. And, don’t abandon it in my front yard when you are through with it. That’s not my idea of an X-mas present!
This assumes everything goes according to plan on Mars. Say this nuclear powered dune buggy goes kablewee on the way down, scattering 8lb of finely powdered plutonium all over the surface of Mars. How would we explain this highly lethal “dirty bomb” attack?
“No, really, it was an accident. We were just going to use that plutonium for peaceful purposes. We didn’t mean to kill off the entire population of Mars,we just wanted to look around, and drill some comely rocks…”, we might say. A likely story if ever I heard one.
No, 8lb of plutonium doesn’t say “We come in peace.” 8lb of plutonium says, “Get the fuck out of my way because here I come! I saw some purdy rocks up here, and I mean to drill ‘em!” In other words, normal US foreign policy.
So, by August of next year, even the spiders on Mars will know what arrogant schmucks we have become as a nation, at least the ones “Curiosity” doesn’t kill first.