Science fiction is quickly becoming science fact. NASA accomplished an amazing feat of technological achievement by conducting a completely autonomous landing on the distant planet Mars. After a harrowing seven minutes of atmospheric entry, the Curiosity spacecraft slowed itself down to hover some 40 feet above the Martian surface. There, the spacecraft’s sky crane lowered the one ton rover gently on to the Red Planet.
NASA’s latest success is a reflection of so much that has been accomplished over the last few decades. Consider the technological accomplishments of just the last 25 years: Internet, the world wide web, laptop computers, CDs, DVDs, digital cameras, cable TV, GPS, smart cellphones, cloning, cancer curing drugs, etc. The list is almost endless. Everyday technology impacts our day-to-day lives.
The importance of these changes is that no longer is technology just a solution to a problem; but it is actually altering the way the inhabitants of this planet think and act. But change is in fact, even more fundamental. Societies are actually restructuring due to the changes brought about by technology.
So, hats off to NASA. The Curiosity landing is much more than a technological achievement. It is much more than a success for engineers. And it is more than just an advanced rover exploring our planetary neighbor. It is a technological accomplishment that affirms a fundamental belief that we continue to dream; and that we dare to achieve all we can dream of doing. What frightens most people is the prospect of failure. In reality, what should frighten us is the prospect of all that we can achieve.