The Mars Exploration Rover Mission was launched by NASA in 2003. Two rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, were to land on Mars and explore the planet in greater detail than ever before.
They arrived January 2004 and immediately began sending amazing pictures and data back to NASA. On March 23, 2004, NASA announced that the rovers discovered proof of past water on its surface. This discovery led NASA to want to explore more, to learn more, and to build the Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars last year.
The cost to get them there? $820 million.
The cost to operate? At least $120 million.
The value? Priceless. Not priceless because of the research or the photos or the discoveries. Not priceless because of the idea that humans were able to have a form of contact with another planet. Not priceless because these discoveries and experiments will one day lead to humans setting foot on the red surface. No.
Priceless because one the rovers drew a dick:
One small step for man, one giant dick for mankind.
This happened most likely due to basic programming and not because a NASA scientist on the driving stick decided to pull an awesome prank. The rovers were programmed to randomly turn in circles to test the terrain and discover safer routes.
However, that's a dick. A big ol' red Mars dick. And it brings a tear to our eye.
Sadly, no one is sure which rover drew it. But we want to believe that maybe the two rovers, brothers, sent up together to die a lonely, robotic death for the quest to expand human knowledge about Mars, somehow drew it together.
Spirit and Opportunity, we salute you.
- Mark (twitter)