Planet of Robots

Looks like it’s not just the rain season but launch season as well. NASA- National Aeronautics and Space Administration launched their new website yesterday. It has been built using Horizon Design System – an atomic UX/UI I spent a couple of years building as a Director of Innovation with the amazing team at Blink UX. Dozens of researchers, designers, information architects and other specialists put their mark on this amazing new experience. You can read a bit more about my involvement in this and other NASA projects in my portfolio entry NASA: Spacetime Stories.

If you’re not yet off exploring NASA site, or back from doing it, here’s a fun fact of the day:

As far as we know, Mars is a planet entirely populated by robots.

At one point or another, you’ve most likely read or watched some kind of coverage regarding Curiosity rover or its younger sibling Perseverance. However, what many people don’t realize is that these missions were originally designed to last just one Mars year, roughly equivalent to two Earth years. Surprisingly, they have been going strong for over a decade!

NASA currently operates two rovers, performing science on Mars on daily basis. Better yet – since NASA is a government agency, all data collected by these remote-operated robots is freely available online. Perseverance by itself sent back over half a million photographs.

Want more? Mars helicopter Ingenuity was originally designed for 30 days of operation. Its initial mission was to test the feasibility of flight in Mars’ thin atmosphere. Now, almost three years later, Ingenuity is still going strong, having completed over 50 flights – often scouting ahead, as Perseverance rover follows.

In addition to amazing work teams at NASA put in operating these robots and sharing their data, there is also a great community of individual volunteers online who log, process and analyze the data – making it easier for consumption. My favorite one must be Dr, Steve Ruff, also known as @MarsGuy on YouTube. Every Sunday, he publishes a short 4 minute video on his channel featuring latest updates from Mars, 3D maps, photographs, video and analysis. It’s the only news-type channel I follow consistently.

Speculating about the future is fun and I love doing it. Sometimes though, it’s important to realize the wonders humanity is capable of to achieving today – be it through science, art, and… plain good humanism.

Postcard from Mars, June 15, 2023
Postcard from Mars, June 15, 2023