So, I hope you watched the landing of Phoenix on Mars last night. I live for this stuff – I can’t think of anything more exciting than landing on another world. There was line in the script from the previous versions of “Outside In” when the script still had dialogue in it “A billion people don’t watch Mars Landings” – where a billion people supposedly watch the Academy Awards, Superbowl etc.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If the same effort, production value etc. were created around Mars landings, a billion people might just do that. The drama, risk and rewards of a Mars landing is much higher than any sports or award event – it’s just a matter of creating the hype, excitement, human interest and drama via TV.
But, despite the fact that it was not a huge event, media coverage was much less pathetic than with Cassini or other recent missions, perhaps back as far as first Shuttle after Challenger or the Viking landers. I watched the Discovery Science Channel live show but CNN and a couple of others also had live coverage. It was not the big story on a local frontpage, but made the top of “Quick News” sidebar on the front, so not bad. And the TV coverage was overall pretty decent.
My overall media grade is C+. Lots of room for improvement, but could have been worse as in Cassini & Huygens case in the US. Huygens especially got shafted.
There will be many great photos from this mission, but this is one of the coolest space shots I’ve ever seen. This is a photograph of Phoenix shortly before it landed taken by the HiRISE orbiter. First photograph ever taken of spacecraft landing on another planet. Wow. Read more here.