Amazing Landing on Mars

This was a big week for NASA. The InSight spacecraft traveled 300 million miles to the red planet, slowed down from 13,000 mph to 5 mph and then gently landed on the dusty surface of Mars. Less celebrated but also technologically amazing  was the MarCO project. Two CubeSats, made up of 4 inch square cubes containing communications and other technology. When the Insight craft landed, a briefcase sized craft made from four CubeSats took a picture and then one of the CubeSats relayed the digital picture to Earth in real time. Quite amazing.

The $800 million dollar project has been in planning for eight years, and in the mind of some NASA researchers for several decades. The expected valuable results will take months to arrive. A seismometer will be placed on the surface by a seven-foot robot arm on the InSight spacecraft. It will measure seismic disturbances below the surface. Another instrument placed by the robot will drill 16 feet into the surface. Not only will the scientific discoveries made benefit the understanding of Mars, where some of our grandchildren may live in the future, they will also help scientists better understand the mysteries of the evolution of Earth and other planets.

I can’t resist a simple comparison. We can launch a spacecraft from California, adjust the course over a 300 million mile seven month journey, and land on Mars after flawlessly executing millions of precise instructions. Here on Earth anti-Internet voting activists don’t believe we can conduct secure, private, and verifiable elections with the Internet. The problem is not technical. It is lack of technological and political will.

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