Nerd Talk: Mars Is Far AF Away From Earth

You're gonna need a basketball, shot put, and BB gun...

February 14, 2019



NASA has officially declared the Mars Opportunity rover dead on the surface of our neighboring planet. 

We shot a six-wheeled science golf cart to another planet, landed it, and let it drive around with a mission of 90 days. It lasted 14 years longer than its primary target. Holy crap. That says a lot either about setting realistic expectations or incredible engineering outkicking its coverage.

Every time we get to talking about insane feats achieved by NASA, I think we do a poor job of making it relatable to people who don't really care about this type of stuff. It must be one of NASA's biggest challenges in keeping people interested but rarely do I see simple, concrete communication. So let's do that.

If you imagine that Earth and everyone you know or ever will know, every animal and insect, every drop of water and lava and ocean garbage were all shrunk down to the size of a basketball* then we'd have to take our dusty red neighbor, Mars, and all its vast sea of nothing and shrink it down to something about the size of a shotput. 

Imagine now shooting a BB gun from "Earth" to "Mars". In order to simulate the challenge faced by NASA, you'd have to separate the two balls an entire mile and hit a perfect bullseye with your one shot. Maximum pumps.

Look, I realize that the BB is still far too massive and that actual Earth gravity is way different, but the skill involved is still seemingly impossible. Just getting something to our neighbor in the first place is crazy. Successfully landing a craft that set the interplanetary driving record is a whole other can of snakes! Then keeping a craft powered up for 15 years on a planet covered in fine equipment killing dust is another level of insane.

Congrats NASA team, you deserve it.



*Ball sizes according to - yes, I visited and may have some explaining to do to IT later...


If we imagine that