My Favorite Self-Driving Car Is On Mars
I recently finished Andy Weir’s novel The Martian. The publishing story of this title is a fine example of how digital media is a great format in which to test new ideas. The drama started when no one was interested in publishing the novel and Weir opted to launch it in Kindle format almost for free.
The title hit the top of Amazon’s list of best-selling science-fiction titles, attracting the interest of the publisher that rejected it a few months before. The print version came to life and immediately hit the New York Times’ bestseller list. Now the story is an Oscar-nominated movie.
The timing of the novel could not be better, with everyone wondering about water on Mars and the possibility of putting a man on another planet for the first time, but Mars is not only a plan for the future. It is every day now, because we tend to forget that we have a car-sized rover driving around the slopes of Mount Sharp on the red planet. The guys from JPL made possible one of the most sophisticated landings of a probe ever, and the rover has been around for more than 1221 Sols.
Long gone are the days of the Pathfinder, a vacuum cleaner-sized rover delivering blurry red pictures. We now enjoy a first-class laboratory on wheels that is also delivering some of the most outstanding imagery we have seen from an alien world. This is not Utah or Morocco, it is more than 5 millions kilometers away, and it is spectacular!
Pictures by National Aeronautics and Space Administration/JPL