Why NASA Mars Mission Matters

A while back, I wrote a blog post about the Apollo moon mission and how its real importance had only been understood years later.  As a kind of cultural rally cry.  A gold standard of human achievement.

“Well, if we can put a man on the moon, we can certainly do ____________.”  You fill in the blank.  Suddenly it became possible.  Landing a man on the moon put all other human endeavor into perspective.  With enough focus and energy and creativity, anything became possible.

So when LA’s most eclectic think tank MINDSHARE announced it was co-hosting a live, play-by-play of the Mars landing with two engineers from JPL, this was an event not to pass up.  About 300 of us packed into a movie theatre in downtown Los Angeles, only a few miles from JPL’s headquarters in Pasadena and watched it unfold on the big screen.

If you’ve only seen the headlines announcing their success, you’ve missed what an UNBELIEVABLE technical achievement this was.  This video will bring you up to speed on the NASA Mars challenge.

It was such a privilege being in this room when Mission control got confirmation of the landing.  I’ve seen superbowl games end with less emotion.  It was awesome.  This is nerd heaven:

Does it matter to you that we got there?  Probably.  The engineering alone has huge implications for consumer technology.

Does it matter to you what kind of rocks NASA and JPL find on Mars?  It might.  If one of them is a fossil.

But what really matters, undeniably to me at least, is that the exploration continues.  They adventure continues.  That our collective hunger to plunge into the unknown is never denied.

If we can finally put aside our crazy belief that we are the only life form in a vast universe – that would be bonus points.  But for right now, I’ll settle for knowing we’re at least the most curious.

Was it worth it to you?  We’d love to hear.