The 2013 Martian Chronicles

This week in February 2021 sees not one, not two, but THREE different missions bearing down on Mars from three different countries. The UAE and China orbiters have arrived and the NASA Perseverance Rover will land on the Martian surface at Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

Why this busy period? Essentially, this fits in with the best launch windows for getting to Mars, which happen every 26 months. The launch window for this cycle was July-August 2020 and the fuel efficient travel path results in similar journey times. This path is based on the Hohmann Transfer – there is an overview of the problem available here.

I haven’t composed anything for this months mass Martian arrivals, which don’t require a quarantine motivated stay in a hotel, but here is a video from the very heavily Bowie influenced song of the Martian Chronicles. The title is stolen from the very excellent collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury. It details the Curiosity rover, and was recorded live from Cambridge Bright Club in 2013 and augmented with lots of groovy facts and info from the NASA Mars Exploration website. It really is a fascinating repository of information.


It ain’t no goddamn small affair being a robot sent to Mars
You ain’t a girl with mousy hair; You’re a one tonne remote control car
Daddy told you to go and send back images of what you see
At Mission Control, they’re hooked to their silver screens

First came the Viking hordes flights are still being planned
No sailors in dance halls, these missions are all unmanned
Only half the flights launched, make it; Rule Britannia is out of bounds
The Beagle 2s innovative balloon based landing system had a bit too much bounce

You landed in the Gale Crater, cushioned by suspension and parachute
Run on your electricity generator, 32 plutonium cubes
You are your own navigator, six wheels and cameras help move
Now you’re up there gathering data, from the seat with the clearest view


You’re a giant robot rover of the surface of Mars / driving round, finding paths
remote controlled science car
Photographing scenery / rock sampling with chemistry
it’s amazing that you’ve gone so far

You’re a giant robot rover of the surface of Mars / driving round, finding paths
remote controlled science car
Spirit Opportunity / Viking Curiosity
it’s amazing that we’ve gone so far

No Norfolk broads, but lots of iron oxide rich soil
No Ibizan seas, but there’s more heavy water that you have seen
No mickey mouse or cows, but if there evidence for life around
You’ll find it / you’ll find it / you’ll find it around

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