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Curiosity Mars Rover: Waste of Money?

Congratulations on wasting $100 million landing a remote-controlled buggy on Mars. Not sure how this helps us poor people here on Earth, but great job.

Nope. These aren’t my words. It’s just a turdy bit of meme humor oozing its way around Facebook. I fixed the punctuation because -- well, it drove me crazy the other way.

But not as much as the vapid message. Yeah, I know – it’s a sarcastic eCard. It’s supposed to be funny, biting commentary to bring us back from the heady excitement of the latest Mars rover. But I absolutely loathe it. Because some people agree. And they see validation in the caustic message.

Tell you what. If that’s the way you feel, I’m here to collect all the technology that came from the space program. You know, that stuff you use every single day that doesn’t help "us poor people here on Earth."

First up, gimme your cell phone. In fact, give me everything that uses rechargeable batteries. Yep, that includes your cordless drill. Oops, I see a bunch of Velcro (or hook-and-loop fasteners, if you don’t like the brand name) on your clothes. I’ll take that. And if you ever wind up in need of a new heart? Sorry, but you don’t get an artificial heart while you’re on the transplant list. And no CAT scans for you, either.

Oh, and cough up your bicycle helmet. Guess where that came from? Yep, the “wasteful” space program. Hey, that’s a great show you’re watching on your SATELLITE FREAKIN’ TV DISH! Hand it over.

And there’s plenty more that I don’t have time, room or inclination to mention. Educate yourself instead: Google the term "technology derived from space program". Better yet, read this great post by Jason Torchinsky on Jalopnik.com. And get a clue.

Let’s not forget another side benefit of the space program and projects like the Mars rover: inspiration. I hope your kids watch the exploits of Curiosity and every Mars rover to follow -- and wonder what it would be like to expand humankind’s knowledge of the universe. Maybe they’ll study hard, get a doctorate, become a test pilot and be the first person to leave a human footprint on Mars.

God, I hope so. Kids need that right about now. I drive down the road and see empty storefronts, people making money by twirling signs, a proliferation of cell phone shops. If we can kindle some interest in the sciences, that can change. The Mars rover can help.

One last point – if you think the space program is a waste of resources better devoted to helping people on Earth, answer this: What’s the last thing you did to better the world around you? And how does it measure up against the people who put Curiosity on Mars?