Twas the Night Before Mars-mas

An ode to the Mars Curiosity written by our very own Emily Dorrian who is an Associate Faculty Leader for Operations:

Twas the night before Mars-mas, when all through Gale Crater,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a gator;
Mount Sharp was piled in the center with care,
In hopes Curiosity soon would be there;

The rover was nestled all snug in its shield,
Polished, and prepped, and lovingly sealed;
And the heroes at NASA, their hour so near,
Had just settled down after nine months of fear-

When up in the sky there arose such a clatter,
The heroes sprang up to see what was the matter.
Off to the computers they flew like a flash,
All willing the MSL’s drives not to crash.

The sun on the breast of the clean, new dry ice,
Gave a welcoming glow to the foreign device;
When, what should the drop of the heat shield reveal,
But a bright parachute, and six off-roading wheels,

With a huge rocker-bogie, so solid and strong,
We knew in a moment we’d see it ‘ere long.
More rapid than eagles the memories came,
And we whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Viking! Now, Pathfinder! Phoenix up top,
“On! Odyssey, Reconn, on Spirit and Opp!
“To the top of the poles! to the craters - don’t stall!
“Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

And then in a twinkling, our breathing did catch,
As we watched the craft slow, and the backshell detach.
The rockets deployed and the nylon unwound -
Down the crane Curiosity came with a bound:

It was gleaming with new lacquer, whiter than snow,
To contrast the rusty red dust down below.
A bundle of instruments sat on its back,
In front of the nuclear battery pack.

Its lenses, they twinkled! its MastCam how merry,
Its cables like honey, ChemCam like a cherry;
Its six giant wheels, with their high-traction cleats,
Could turn a full circle in place to retreat;

The robot arm, long as an old jouster’s lance,
It pulled tight to itself at the crater’s advance.
The gold-plated Sample Analysis suite
Was packed up with tools, like a box full of treats.

It was ten feet across, a right warrior chief,
And we laughed when we saw it, in utter relief;
A twist of its mast and the Sky Crane it shed
Soon gave us to know we had nothing to dread.

It took not a rest, but went straight to its work,
And scooped up some soil; then turn'd with a jerk,
And, taking commands from down here, I suppose,
And spinning its wheels, up the great Mount it rose.

With the pow’r of plutonium dioxide decay,
Our bright Curiosity soldiered away:
And we heard in our heads, as it drove out of sight-
Merry Mars-mas to all, and to all a good night!

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