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Human triumph on Mars

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Forget, for a moment, about Obama.

Forget about Clinton's latest gaffe. Forget about idiot Fox commenters and their "slips of the tongue". Forget about Bush, about the economy, about gas.

Just for a moment, forget about all that.

Instead, look at this picture:

2008-05-26-hirise_phoenix_chute.jpg

It doesn't look like much, does it? But what you are seeing is the Phoenix Mars lander, descending to the Red Planet's surface suspended under its parachute, just seconds before touching down. It was taken by the phenomenal HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which was in position to capture this once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Here it is in higher resolution:

2008-05-26-hirise_phoenix_zoom.jpg

This has never been seen before. Ever. It shows what we can do. It's a human-made machine, acting autonomously, falling gracefully onto the surface of another world. The picture was taken by another man-made machine, already circling that world, where it has for years been obediently and faithfully opening our eyes to the beauty and wonder of an alien planet.

This is what we humans can do when we try. When we persist. And when we learn from our mistakes. We can literally touch other worlds.

So now go back to the elections, to the squabbling, to the hatred, to the greed, to the selfishness. But remember while you do that we can be better than that. We have been better than that. And we will continue to be better than that.

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