Those pictures of Mars are stunning – and what a relief that they downloaded successfully.
You wouldn't want Curiosity to have gone all that way only for someone at Nasa to say: "Hey guys. Are they using a Mac up there or something? I can't open these pics." Or the alternative: "Hey guys. Don't tell me they're on a PC up there. These files are rubbish. Jeez ..."
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The resolution on the images is superb – such high definition that you almost expected to see a Paralympian shoot past in one of those cool wheelchairs with the angled wheels, every last mote of sweat (see – there is water on Mars!) caught by Curiosity's HD lens. Or to be delighted by some smiling figures sashaying by in national costume, a pretty woman holding up one of those curiously old-fashioned signs saying "Azerbaijan" or "Burkina Faso".
Oh come on. You didn't think the Opening Ceremony had finished did you? There's loads more countries to go yet!
The question remains, though, is there life up there? Well, if two Martians were discussing whether there was life in outer space, we know that the answer, from their perspective, would be resoundingly yes. It all depends where you're standing. Frankly, we're tempted to yell: "Co-ee! Over here!" Yes, yes, we are effectively doing that with Nasa's SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) initiative, which has been beaming out signals for years. But how do we know it isn't using some old version of Word that no-one can open anymore?
Thing is, just because Curiosity hasn't caught any one on camera yet, doesn't mean they're not there. The real issue is who, or what, is just off-camera? When Curiosity moves slowly to the right, how do we know there aren't a couple of Martians doing that classic following trick from black-and-white movies where they shadow the person in front, stopping when they stop, then slowly moving around with them as they turn around. And who's on top of Curiosity anyway?
While we're on the subject, look closely again at those pictures of Mount Sharp. Keep looking. See how it seems to quiver ever so slightly? Surely what we're seeing here is the Martian equivalent of Diversity. They're all standing on each other's shoulders, holding up photo panels that together make a giant picture of the mountain. Folks, I have much more to say on this, but it's time for my medication now.
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