Today, on the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, it’s good to remember that both Mars Exploration Rovers were fitted with small pieces of the wreckage from the fallen World Trade Centres, as tributes to those who were murdered. Today, on Mars, Opportunity will no doubt, at some point, hold hers up against the pink martian sky in silent salute to the thousands of people who died on that terrible day. I also like to think of it as defiantly sticking up a finger at the scum who carried out the atrocities.
Opportunity, and her sister Spirit, are illustrations of how different people can be. On 9-11 ignorant scum chose to use modern technology to butcher innocent, terrified people. Today, on Mars, Opportunity, built by people who valued science, discovery and curiosity, is carrying a piece of the towers they toppled, proof that for all the evil and wickedness in some people’s hearts many, many more dedicate their lives to helping others and helping our species grow by exploring, by pushing back boundaries and by facing the unknown and the different with wonder-filled eyes instead of hate-filled hearts.
Give some people a box full of wires, circuits and other parts and they will make a bomb. Give others the same box and they will make an MRI scanner, a wheelchair or a Mars rover. And that’s the difference between us, and them. In a thousand years, when Opportunity is on display in the Museum of Mars, long after the fundamentalist lunatics have been forgotten, that small piece of the World Trade Centre will still be there for everyone to see – proof that no matter how cruel they are, how violent they are, how evil they are, people who carry out wicked attacks like that will never, ever, win.
Processing: Stuart Atkinson Original images: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell