Looks as though budget cuts are forcing NASA to put one of the Mars rovers, Spirit, to sleep — possibly permanently — while the other, Opportunity, may have to go to half-duty. Sadly, both rovers are still very capable of operating and are still exploring and sending data, having far outlived their predicted three-month mission and beginning what would be their fifth year now on the red planet.
An AP article on this can be read here: “Cut Forces NASA to Park a Mars Rover”
I know there is much legitimate debate about just how much of the money going to NASA is well spent (“There are so many other more worthy/important/pressing priorities,” “Why are we looking for life up there when we are busy messing it up down here,” etc.), and I do not plan to weigh in on that debate here. If you wish to weigh in yourself in the comments section, please feel free — just be nice.
However, I must say that I was very enamored with the rover missions from the start and followed them fairly closely during the first year. My kids were very interested, too, and we built Lego models of the rovers and viewed many an animation and photograph on the Internet. I remember after hearing that one of the rovers (I don’t recall which) had traveled some particular distance (I don’t recall how far), I took a stroll outside our house that was roughly the same distance just to get a feel for it. The idea of walking along such a distant shore, if you will, was just fascinating to me.
Wasteful or profitable, harmful or beneficial, missions such as theirs — in my opinion — are products, at least in part, of the truth expressed by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:11 when he says, “He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
In fact, I think the rovers’ mission expresses both truths of that statement… There is a longing in man for something greater for himself, and a craving to find that something. And, yet, the fullness of the beauty of that “something” we can only know and find in part, until the day when the whole of it is revealed to us:
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12
I look forward to that day when I shall know just as I also am known.