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Martian memorial

I ran across a fascinating historical footnote in the May issue of Sky and Telescope I feel should be much more widely known.

The builder of the Rock Abrasion Tool (RAT) on the Spirit and Opportunity rovers was a small Manhattan company named Honeybee Robotics. The company offices are just a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, so it hardly bears saying the engineers were deeply affected by the events of 9/11.

They paid their respects in an unusual and touching way. With assistance of the Mayor’s office they acquired bits of mangled aluminium debris from the site. The engineers pounded and formed them into cable shielding parts.

Those bits of the World Trade Center have now been roving Mars for two years.

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14 comments to Martian memorial

  • lemmy

    That is fantastic.

  • Mike Lorrey

    Its a trend. The USS New York(Link) is an Amphibious Transport Dock that includes 24 tons of the steel from the WTC in its structure, and is used to support Marine assault operations.

    Her sister ships, the Arlington and Somerset, are named after the communities in which the other 9/11 airliners crashed (The Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field). While I’m not sure if metal from the Pentagon is going into the Arlington, I’m doubtful there is much in Somerset that will go into the ship of that name.

    Interesting that these weapons systems are having objets from their namesake sites integrated into their structures, and treated like holy relics being invested into the construction of a cathedral. Subtextual signs of a “Holy War” attitude among Americas warriors?

  • Nick M

    Those bits of “mangled aluminium” have now gone further than the wildest dreams of the Islamicists could ever reach.

    They really are primitive, atavistic baboons.

  • Ron

    Subtextual signs of a “Holy War” attitude among Americas warriors?

    No, just an example of the warrior ethos. While it can border on spirituality, it is quite different than a holy war attitude I’d say.

  • Dale Amon

    There is also the fact that many of our dead are unburied. They were atomized. The 9/11 wreckage is the grave of a large number of people.

  • Nick M

    On the thread about the Marine ships incorporating WTC steel someone made the comment that this was like soldiers of previous eras carrying into battle a lock of hair from their sweetheart. I guess it’s more like that writ large than a holy relic.

  • Dale Amon

    If you are the least bit into the supernatural, which a very large part of the public is, then a warrior on such a ship has the vengeful souls of the innocent victims, cast into the afterlife in a moment of terror and surprise, riding with them. There really is an feel of something very deep and ancient in our human psyche to this.

    I like it.

  • Brian

    Great story. A good example of how utterly superior the lib dems are in comparison to those totalitarian thugs.

  • Nick M

    Surely not the Lib Dems!

  • Brian

    ha ha definitely not!

  • Jeffrey

    But, don’t you see the IRONY?!?

    The courageous Third World “freedom fighters” destroyed a center of American economic hegemony, and now debris from that defeat is being exploited as America colonizes another world! Extraterrestrial empire!!!

    It can only mean one thing: the Martians have oil.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course the Mars rovers are not “weapons systems”.

    Although having metal put into a Navy ship is a great honour, I think that having metal put in to exploration of Mars is an even greater honour.

  • Andrew Milner

    I’m really excited by the notion of being a colonist on Mars. I’d volunteer like a shot, not that they’d take a nutter like me. The risk takers leave, the risk adverse remain. Think of it: Leave behind quarralling nation states and Christian and other religious BS, and work to develop a planet where science and technology is king. The laws of physics are non negotiable. You could re-write the measurement system to make it Mars relevant, male-female relationships could be based on different, more relevant criteria, and generally we’d all be on the same side. Global warning would be a desired goal and as the permafrost melted, plant life would turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. And over the millenia, new technology would speed the process. I always felt I’d been born 150 years too late, perhaps it was 100 years too early. Because right now sucks.

  • j.pickens

    Unfortunately, Mars is doomed, just as Earth is, by Global Warming. I forget, how exactly is Man supposed to have caused the melting of the Martian Ice caps? Something about burning fossil fuels, I think.