Curiosity Can Create the Next Generation of Scientsts and Engineers
August 10, 2012 • 7:45AM

A scan of coverage, features, editorials, and active public participation since Curiosity landed on Mars four days ago indicates how mankind's future exploration of the Solar System is possible.

* British "Astronomer Royal," Lord Rees of Ludlow, responded to the Curiosity events, saying, "I believe, and hope, that some people living now will walk on Mars... Perhaps the cosmos teems with life; on the other hand, our Earth could be unique among the billions of planets that surely exist... Our tiny planet could then be the most important place in the galaxy. It could perhaps even be a seed from which life could spread through the entire galaxy. We may learn this century whether biological evolution is unique to our 'pale blue dot,' or whether the wider cosmos teems with life — even with intelligence."

* Argentine media are excitedly interviewing Argentine aerospace engineer Miguel San Martin of NASA, who headed up the engineering team in charge of guidance, navigation, and landing of Curiosity on Mars; his team designed the software for the automatic landing. He told one paper that the research associated with the project will take decades. "There is serious work to try to capture communications. It's not unthinkable that there is intelligent life, given how many planets and galaxies exist... The universe is so huge, and it can't be that there is life on only one planet in this immense galaxy... We're talking here about serious science." San Martin told CN23 that with the successful landing, scientists "are going to be able to investigate the history of Mars, through the information the robot provides." San Martin has worked for NASA for 17 years, and previously worked on the Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity rovers, and the Phoenix Mars lander.

* Time Magazine's cover for this week is simply "Mars," sporting a full-cover color painting of Curiosity roving on Mars. The author, Jeffrey Kluger, states that landing on Mars "is what smart looks like," while the collapsing physical economic infrastructure on this planet goes to ruin.

* A Baltimore Sun editorial on Aug. 6th, describing Curiosity as a "stepping stone to one day landing men on Mars," laments that the landing "couldn't be timed to coincide with the U.S. school year" so that students and teachers could be "watching and listening in rapt attention."

* An analysis of the online coverage of the Curiosity landing indicates that a total of 3.2 million people tuned to the live stream of the rover's descent through the atmosphere of Mars; this while the event took place in the middle of the night in half of the U.S. Curiosity has 862,365 followers on Twitter, where the JPL team posts updates in the rover's first person.