Curiosity is a beautiful thing, and now it’s also a beautiful robot. The aptly named rover is set to land on the surface of Mars on Aug. 5, at 10:31 p.m. PDT. There will be a live broadcast of a dangerous landing on The Red Planet’s Mount Sharp, and everyone who’s anyone will be tuning in to NASA TV (or heading over to Times Square) to watch. But you don’t know anything about this, do you? We’ll make it easy for you, space age slackers. Here are six reasons you should care about Curiosity.
Because robots are scientists now
“They took our jobs!” — South Park
If Spirit and Opportunity were robotic geologists, Curiosity is “both a robotic geologist and a robotic geochemist,” says project scientist John Grotzinger. This Curiosity may not kill a cat, but it could be more successful than you: It’s on a mission to search for places that life could have evolved (but may not have) on Mars. How’s that cubicle feeling now?
Because space exploration is necessary for long-term survival
Star Trek might not be too far off. Space truly is the final frontier, and everyone who’s smarter than you agrees. Robert Zubrin’s book, Entering Space advocates for the creation of a spacefaring (not space fearing) civilization. And theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking warns, “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet.”
Because learning about the universe is super cool
Curiosity is truly the perfect name. Think about the night sky — the twinkling stars, the moon, the rare comet. The more everyone knows about science, space, our solar system, and the universe, the better. It’s fascinating, and it’s the past, present, and future. Let the Mars rover’s landing and exploration peak your curiosity.
Because it’s a Hot Wheels toy
That’s right. You can have your own Curiosity — without ever even wondering about a darn thing. Mattel is releasing a Curiosity action figure vehicle that’s 1:64 scale model. The kid-sized rovers will go on sale in September.
Because they’re broadcasting the landing in Times Square
And if that doesn’t make something news, there’s no hope for the future of the media arc. Tourists and New Yorkers will see it. Why shouldn’t you? Third Rock Radio, which is accessible through NASA’s website, and the TuneIn app will also broadcast the landing.
Because it’s good news
It’s an election year. A psychopath just murdered a dozen people in a crowded theater. Our soldiers die in armed conflict every day. 50 Shades of Grey is at the top of the bestseller list. But Curiosity is good news, and that’s worth caring about. Curiosity is about exploration. It’s about learning. It’s about, well, curiosity. And there’s simply nothing better than that.