This week NASA said goodbye to their Mars rover, Opportunity. The rover’s last words to the crew were, “My battery is low, and it’s getting cold.” For eight months NASA tried to reach her, but this last week, as a last goodbye, they played Billie Holiday’s “I’ll Be Seeing You.”
I’ll find you in the morning sun/ And when the night is new/ I’ll be looking at the moon/ But I’ll be seeing you
“This is what’s great about NASA and it’s what’s great about people. These are world-class engineers. When they sent a rover to another planet they could have easily looked at it as just another scientific tool. But people don’t do that. We can and will get emotionally attached to the most inanimate of objects. We can and will anthropomorphize anything. And frankly Opportunity’s camera mast looks like a little face with eyes and everything, so why not?
So they started calling it her.
They nicknamed her Oppy.
They told her to take a selfie not long ago.
After 15 years of Oppy flipping the double bird to her original 90 day life expectancy, when a planet-spanning dust storm finally knocked her out and she stopped responding to the engineer’s wake-up messages, they started playing music for her.
And after 8 months and almost 1000 unanswered wake-up messages, when it was finally clear that Oppy was never going to wake up, the last thing these world-class NASA engineers did for their little rover on another planet.
Was play her a love song.” This text found here.
“gosh but like we spent hundreds of years looking up at the stars and wondering “is there anybody out there” and hoping and guessing and imagining
because we as a species were so lonely and we wanted friends so bad, we wanted to meet other species and we wanted to talk to them and we wanted to learn from them and to stop being the only people in the universe
and we started realizing that things were maybe not going so good for us— we got scared that we were going to blow each other up, we got scared that we were going to break our planet permanently, we got scared that in a hundred years we were all going to be dead and gone and even if there were other people out there, we’d never get to meet them
we built robots?
and we gave them names and we gave them brains made out of silicon and we pretended they were people and we told them hey you wanna go exploring, and of course they did, because we had made them in our own image
and maybe in a hundred years we won’t be around any more, maybe yeah the planet will be a mess and we’ll all be dead, and if other people come from the stars we won’t be around to meet them and say hi! how are you! we’re people, too! you’re not alone any more!, maybe we’ll be gone
but we built robots, who have beat-up hulls and metal brains, and who have names; and if the other people come and say, who were these people? what were they like?
the robots can say, when they made us, they called us discovery; they called us curiosity; they called us explorer; they called us spirit. they must have thought that was important.
and they told us to tell you hello.” This text was found here.
all this inspired - as often is the case - from this miracle of a woman.