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[personal profile] krpalmer
When the InSight probe landed on Mars, I said I ought to try and keep better track of what's happening with it than I've seemed to do for previous missions, and I have been looking at the official NASA site every so often. The news the probe's seismometer, still sitting on its upper deck before a robot arm lowers it to the Martian surface, had recorded vibrations converted into "the sound of the Martian wind" did spread beyond there, and it got me thinking back to impressions I'd seen a book by Arthur C. Clarke from the 1960s proposing a first Mars lander might not be able to send pictures back from the surface, but could well have a microphone attached. I picked my copy of his The Promise of Space off my bookshelf, but couldn't find that there. After a moment's wondering just where those impressions had come from then, I thought of something else all of a sudden and hurried downstairs to find a copy of Man and Space from the Life Science Library, which Clarke had written the text sections for just before starting to work with Stanley Kubrick on "the proverbial 'really good' science fiction movie." There, I found the description of the first microphone on Mars, all the way up to the possibility of it capturing "a sound that grows louder and louder, closer and closer," building to "clangings and bumpings and rattlings, all ending suddenly in a grinding crunch and the abrupt cessation of the radio signal." Certainly, I'm not expecting that in a further update from InSight, but Clarke could have been forgiven his optimism for having written that before Mariner 4 reached Mars.

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