Mars is dirty

Pax Arcana

NASA’s $420 million Phoenix lander finally landed this weekend and found what it was looking for — Phoenix.

Of course, this photo isn’t actually from Phoenix. It’s from a top-secret computer-enhanced photo studio in central Florida, bankrolled by an international cabal of tax-plundering neo-aristocrats whose membership includes no less than the Queen of England and German soccer superstar Michael Ballack.

NASA, adhering strictly to its fictional storyline, swears the photo is the first-ever taken from the surface of Mars — the planet so legendary they named a candy bar after it.

“It was better than we could have possibly wished for,” said Barry Goldstein, the project manager for the mission. “We rehearsed over and over again. We rehearsed all of the problems, and none of them occurred. It was perfect, just the way we designed it.”

At 9:53 p.m., there were more cheers as confirmation came that one more critical event, the unfolding of the solar arrays, had occurred without problem. And then the first pictures arrived: black-and-white images of the solar panels, of one of the lander’s footpads and of surrounding terrain, showing the polygonal fractures caused by repeated expansion and contraction of the underground ice.

Underground ice, huh?

Look, NASA, I’ll give you a freebie. If you want us to believe that you landed a space machine on some faraway planet called “Mars,” you’d better do better than this. Like I suppose the Martians just stick their ice in the ground to keep it cold. You ever see what happens when you drop an ice cube from your daiquiri on the ground? That’s right, it gets covered with ants. And dirt. And no matter how many times you lick it, you can never get all those ants and dirt off of it.

Give us some credit, scientists.

Mars Lander Transmits Photos of Arctic Terrain [New York Times]

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