Sunday, January 04, 2009

Yankee Ingenuity - American "Can-Do" 

When teaching my class, I get torn between feeling sorry for students who don't learn the great-
ness of the US, its ability to create and think "outside the box" and frustration with them because there appears to be so little appreciation for all the advances we have made.

A great example is this article about the Mars Rovers sent to Mars in 2004 by NASA, the US' National Aeronautical and Space Administration - the agency that put men on the moon. The first rover landed on Mars five years ago. It was named "Sprint" and was expected to last three months. It is still going strong - well, sort of. Now it can only travel backwards because of a jammed wheel but it still sends data back to earth. Its buddy, "Opportunity," has a glitch in one of its arms because of an electrical short. Sometimes their power runs low because of dust covering their solar panels. Regardless, they're still operating - an amazing achievement.

Together, the rovers have driven more than 20km, and returned more than 36 gigabytes (36,000,000,000) of data. This has included a quarter of a million (250,000) images.

This project, along with other Mars robots, show what Americans are - the "can-do" people who do not need someone or some entity to tell them "no!" Our space programs provided so many benefits to all, from light weight metals for wheel chair racers to powdered beverages. Nothing is in isolation. If we regain this curiosity, asking "Why?" "How?" we can solve anything.

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