Thursday, November 23, 2006

Giving Thanks for MGS

Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.
~ T. S. Eliot

As duly noted in Gog's Blog, I have entered into a period of intense goofing off (which has involved doing a bunch of stuff instead of properly lying around watching football), so I intended to just wish the occasionally readers who pass through this spot a Happy Thanksgiving and leave it at that.

But, I can't let the day pass without a kind word for the
Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) which may have sent its last picture post card to Earth (as I recently noted). NASA is about ready to concede that MGS may no longer be reachable. MRO's younger but more powerful sibling, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has looked and looked but has been unable to locate the silent satellite. Without knowing where MGS is and what its condition is, controllers have very slim chances of ever regaining contact.

Well, it's not like MGS has been goofing off. It's sent around 240,000 photographs back that will keep planetary scientists busy for years to come. Only the rovers Opportunity and Spirit approach it for success in exploring Mars.

MGS will hang around in orbit for some years to come before atmospheric drag causes it to drop toward the Red Planet. Given how thin the Martian atmosphere is, it may well reach the surface, creating a small crater. If it does, maybe someday Martian explorers will locate it and say a few words over this device that paved the way for them.

Thanks for a job well done, builders and operators of MGS.

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