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Latarski: Curious about traffic on Mars
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The big brains at NASA are all giddy now that the Mars rover Curiosity has made the equivalent of an Olympic gymnast 10-point perfect landing.

Watching a room full of scientist jumping around hugging and giving each other high-fives like football players was entertainment in its own right. No doubt at least three of them did not show up for work the next day because they went out that night, had a glass of wine and partied until 8 o’clock. 

This is a pretty amazing feat and the fact everything has worked to perfection so far is more than just luck. About 7,000 people — from top scientist and engineers to guys responsible for keeping the floor clean — worked to make this happen. That’s a lot of jobs by the way.

It will be a while before we know if all the gadgets on Curiosity work because NASA does not want to rush things. Think of it as breaking in a new car.

NASA did test drive the rover before sending it up but thank goodness the test was not made in metro Atlanta. Curiosity would have been stuck in traffic and never made it to Mars.

And Curiosity could not use the express lanes because, technically, no one is in the vehicle although it does have multiple drivers.

Comparing Mars to metro-Atlanta and the rover is easy.

The first difference is there was no vote on T-SPLOST on Mars that failed, as far as we know. There was no need for the Martians to pass a T-SPLOST because the traffic on Mars is just not that bad, at least right now. Of course, that’s what a lot of people said about Atlanta a few years ago.

And it may be the Martians favor toll roads over T-SPLOST because toll roads are in our future. But if Curiosity cameras pick up a toll booth NASA is in big trouble because I’ll bet no one thought to make sure the rover has exact change.

And as soon as developers build a strip mall in Gale Crater we can expect bottleneck intersections and road widening projects that will take longer to build than it does to get from Earth to Neptune.

Mars also has better parking than Atlanta. NASA doesn’t have to worry about some fly-by-night outfit cranking out parking tickets in a profit-making scheme.

They also don’t have to worry about some shyster parking lot owner towing or booting their vehicle for no legitimate reason. Of course, Curiosity does have a laser beam that would make short work of a boot, which is something GM and Ford might want to look at as options on the next generation of cars. 

Since we do not know about life on Mars yet, NASA had better hope they didn’t land in the bad part of town and someone steals Curiosity and it ends up in a chop-shop behind Mount Sharp.

Chop up a $2 billion car and there’s a chance you could make a small profit on the parts if MARS has a version of Metropolitan Boulevard.

Water is a big deal in Atlanta and the same can be said for Mars. There is some evidence Mars has underground water that may sometimes erupt in a geyser and then quickly evaporates away due to the thin Martian atmosphere.

Afternoon thunderstorms can turn some Atlanta roadways into rivers and it’s easy to get stuck. Hope the NASA folks thought about this because it would be a shame to get stuck in the mud and, while Curiosity does have multi-wheel drive, NASA may not have thought about including a low gear.

Atlanta does have one advantage over Mars when it comes to riding around: if you breakdown on the side of the road and wait long enough, there is a chance a HERO truck will come by and render assistance. There is also a chance you will sit there until the next mission to Mars.

At least the folks driving Curiosity don’t have to worry about getting stuck in traffic needing to go to the bathroom. 




Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at