I love the Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and feel that we really got a major return from our taxes with these two robots. However, I have a request for NASA. I want them to send a robot that films its Mars roving adventures in HD at 1080p so watching the video will feel like walking on Mars. That means, the cameras need to be at head height, and the vehicle needs to move along at the same clip as an average walker. We could call it the Mars Hiker mission.
Oh, and I want sound. I don’t know if there’s much sound on Mars, but I want to hear what’s going on, even if it’s just the whir of the robotic motors. And while the NASA’s engineers are at it, provide readouts at the bottom of the screen for temperature, air pressure, wind speed, time of day, etc. Anything to help me feel like I’m rambling around on Mars. And it would be unbelievably cool if the rover actually walked like a man, and could climb up places that a rover couldn’t go. It doesn’t have to be a technical mountain climber, but I’d want the Hiker to visit places equivalent to hiking around Yellowstone Park.
I don’t know if it’s possible, but I’d love to see the night sky on Mars, and what the stars and Milky Way look like from such a dark planet. Another thing I’d like the Mars Hiker to do, is walk up to a Viking lander. For my final wish, I’d like to watch the robot build something on Mars.
I suppose we haven’t had videos from Mars, the Moon, Titan and other landing sites because the bandwidth is beyond what NASA can send back home, but we have a lot of Geek power on planet Earth, so I’m hoping tech wizards can solve that problem.
I don’t want robots to have all the space traveling fun. I understand it might be too expensive, dangerous and impractical to send humans on these missions, but I NASA could make their missions more of a collective exploration experience. I wonder if engineers could design a helmet to wear while communing with the Mars Hiker, so that we could have an even more immersing experience? I would have loved to have worn such a helmet during the recent Hubble repair mission.
I’ve resigned myself to never becoming an astronaut, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t treasure the vicarious thrill of remote viewing. It’s pretty pathetic to have robot envy, but hey, I’ll take my space kicks any way I can.
JWH – 6/4/9