Topic: "Better Than Pong"
Two years ago the Mars Rovers commenced their ramblings on the surface of the Red Planet, that which is the fourth satellite in our solar system. Dubbed "Spirit" and "Opportunity," the remote-controlled cameras on wheels had sufficient battery power to operate for 90 days on the surface of Mars. Yet, two years later, they continue to operate at the command of the scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Frodo was watching the scientists operate the "joy stick" guiding the movements of the respective rovers. It was if a huge, long-distance video game were occupying their complete attention.
"Watch out, if you fall in that crater, you lose 10 points," said Frodo. Undeterred the pimply-faced PhD from Cal Tech explained that the frequent "dust devils" on the Martian surface evidently cleanse the solar panels on the rovers, thereby extending the solar batteries far beyond estimates, perhaps indefinitely.
"Well, if that's true, then how come the batteries on my digital camera don't even make it for 30 days?," queried Frodo. Professor "Generation Z" (whom we'll refer to as GENZ henceforth) added that the rovers have sent back "hundreds of thousands" of pictures, so many in fact that it will take a decade or longer to examine them utilizing our current technology. GENZ gave the "joy stick" a lunge to the right, and the rover ("Opportunity") did a "wheelie." "Cool," said Frodo.
GENZ grinned and said, "Watch this Mr. Frodo." Suddenly "Spirit" popped from behind a small boulder and accelerated. "Opportunity" was shifted into overdrive, and the very first NASCAR event in outer space was underway.
"Can I?," said Frodo. With that, Frodo took control of "Opportunity" and gave that sucker every inch of her solar batteries. "What a hoot, now eat some dust," shouted Frodo thoughtlessly, and the rover rumbled, bumbled, and stumbled toward an imaginary finish line. Just as GENZ wheeled "Spirit" from far behind to an almost parallel position, in walked his supervisor. In spite of himself, Frodo always seems to get kids in trouble.
As Frodo was escorted from the building, he couldn't help but think of Dr. Carl Sagan the over-sexed and charismatic voice of "Cosmos," and Professor of Astronomy at Cornell. Frodo has often said that had he walked into a Freshman Survey Course in Astronomy at Cornell, and had Carl Sagan as his Instructor, then Frodo would have become an astronomer. Good teachers do that to young minds.
"Roving Mars" is the next IMAX film, and it is currently in production. Frodo will watch "Opportunity" streak across the Bonneville Salt Flats of the Stratosphere once more, and you'll know it's him in the theater because he'll be the one making noises that sound like "VROOM, VROOM." Some things never change, do they Sam?