by Dr. Don Rose

STARDATE: Feb. 19, 2004.  At the California Science Center's Air and Space Gallery, guests first watched a video detailing President Bush's Lunar/Mars mission vision (heavy on human presence, but did include a gecco-like robot that could climb any surface). A special Star Trek Voyager DVD plaque was then presented to Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), in salute of its recent achievements, including the Mars rover landings.

Several Voyager stars were in attendance, including Ethan Phillips, Tim Russ, Garrett Wang and Robert Picardo. Picardo, who played the holographic doctor on the series, told me his initial motivation for the character was to make him a satire of managed health care! Which, he said, explained why the Doctor seemed a bit impatient and sarcastic most of the time. (Although the holodoc certainly evolved during the show's run.)

Representatives from JPL were also present. One JPLer told me why their Mars Spirit lander was inactive for several tense days: its memory got full! (The period from launch to landing was longer than they ever tested it, so this scenario never came up.) Selective deleting from its memory fixed the problem. I also learned the rover's brain is not much different from a Mac.

(JPL, you do great work, but some free advice: PUT MORE MEMORY IN next time!  It won't dent your budget THAT much. And why not slap an Apple logo on the lander. Sell ad space! You can add Microsoft, Mars Bars and GEICO too. Imagine the revenue! Heck, you might even turn a profit!)

Several members of The Planetary Society were also in attendance, such as the bright RED ROVER kids -- youngsters from a dozen countries who help on the Mars missions (performing image calibration and other tasks).

Overall, it was one STELLAR event!  ("Star Trek: Voyager Season One" will be released on DVD on Feb. 24, 2004.)

Dr. Don Rose
Entertainment and Technology Writer
Writer/Editor, The Rose Review (the news/entertainment/tech magazine)
Writer/Reporter, Radio Parallax, KDVS FM
310 729 1683       [email protected]

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