The pursuit of Curiosity

  • March 08, 2016 | Stuart Buchanan

In our day-to-day lives, we tend to take a lot for granted. Take this very blog post, for instance. The fact that you are reading it on a computer or mobile screen from anywhere in the world, thanks to the internet, involves wondrously-complicated technologies that just quietly work without us thinking too much about it.

At Maropeng, we get to take a longer view on history and our changing world. When we look at cutting-edge technology and imagine what the future holds, we can contrast that with what we know about our ancient, and very humble human origins.

Which makes this next image all the more impressive:

You are looking at the latest 360-degree video from the surface of Mars, 54.6-million kilometres away. It is in high-definition, and you can click and drag your mouse around to look up and down, and explore further (use the fullscreen button in the bottom-right to get the best experience).

It is a truly incredible image. It shows the downwind face of the "Namib Dune" on Mars, including a portion of Mount Sharp on the horizon. It was taken by NASA's Curiosity Rover, which can also clearly be seen above.

We went from crafting crude tools out of bone and rock in the African savannah to analysing the chemical composition of rocks on the surface of an alien planet using the most advanced space rover ever built – all in the space of some 3-million years.

That may sound like a long time to you and I, but in the history of the universe, it's the blink of an eye.

Who knows how long it will be before we are taking selfies on the Martian surface? In the grander scheme of things, it's just around the corner.

(Thanks to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the video)

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