Saturday, 26 November 2011

Life on Mars

Cricketers will have their eyes on other worlds as the latest scientific mission to Mars lifts off today.  The delivery of Nasa's Mars Science Laboratory rover, known as Curiosity, to the surface of the Red Planet is hugely exciting. The $2.5bn vehicle is by far the most sophisticated machine ever to touch another world. Curiosity will provide a wide range of critically important scientific information.  It should help doughty groundsmen answer that age old question, 'Is there cricket on Mars?'

Curiosity - the cricket exploration vehicle
Curiosity has a range of equipment on board which will allow it to analyse samples taken from the surface of the planet in numerous ways.  An environmental monitor will also examine weather conditions.  But most importantly for cricketers, the vehicle also packs a light roller and if there is evidence that cricket may have been played it will investigate how Martian wickets might have been prepared.  It will then deploy its bowling machine and explore the potential for reverse swing in the alien atmosphere.

The addition of the light roller to Curiosity has been a matter of some controversy within the doughty groundsman community.   Some doughty groundsmen have questioned whether it would have been preferable to send a heavy roller.  Others have pointed out that at this time in the season some scarifying might have been appropriate.  Others have said that this is a complete waste of time because only artificial strips have ever been observed on Mars.

A NASA spokes-doughty-groundsman said that the mission did not expect to find cricketers as such on Mars but was investigating whether conditions existed that could make cricket possible.  He said that telescopes had observed marks on the surface that could be bowling footprints and also scraped marks such as batsmen use to mark their guard, these were particularly prominent in the recently sighted Trott Crater.  There are also a number of red spheres which may be of interest to the cricketer.  However it was important not to read too much into these signs, for previous missions found no evidence of tea taking activities on the planet.

'But,' he added, 'we're pretty optimistic that Mars is a cricketing planet so we've loaded the light roller to ensure that play could commence at the earliest opportunity.'  

No comments:

Post a Comment