Image of the Week #19, November 28, 2011:

From: The Long Hard Road to Mars by Caleb A. Scharf at Life, Unbounded.

Original source: NASA/JPL

A hopeful portrait of a new friend we’re sending to join the popular Spirit and Opportunity probes on the surface of Mars: Curiosity, in an image created by the (unnamed) artists at NASA/JPL. What’s stunning about this Image of the Week is that it reveals what Life, Unbounded author Caleb Scharf suggests, “we are already a space-faring species, we just haven’t quite realised it yet”. This digital painting of Curiosity on the surface of Mars is immediately recognizable to anyone who pays attention to the news. Thanks to past successes, as a society we can view this image and recognize the Martian surface the way we can recognize a redwood forest or Antarctic shore full of penguins. We can view a new probe and know that this robot is related to others we’ve sent to Mars, as distinctively as recognizing a Michael Bay Transformer or Star Wars droid.

The landscape of Mars and our ambassadors to it is now a part of our visual vocabulary, and the distinctive look of the probes sent there tells us there are wonders on the way.