[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
When InSight, NASA’s latest mission to Mars, touched down at 2:54 p.m. ET/PT on Nov. 26, hundreds of scientists, engineers, exobiologists, and researchers breathed a big sigh of relief.
In just six-and-a-half minutes, the probe needed to slow from an orbital speed of 19,000 km/h to make a gentle touchdown at less than 8 km/h. When the dust settled and InSight phoned home with a selfie, planetary scientists and fans of space exploration all over the globe erupted in cheers. InSight’s systems, with its dozens upon dozens of automated sequential procedures, had worked perfectly.
InSight had beaten the so-called Mars Curse, which has seen at least half of all Mars missions end in failure.
Among those cheering were the three members of Green Day. Unknown to all but a few inside NASA, a little bit of Green Day hitched a ride to Mars by way of a “boarding pass” that was etched on a tiny chip inside the lander. It features the date of launch, the date of the landing, and the rocket — an Atlas V 401 — that boosted everything on its seven-month journey.
Green Day has thus become the first punk band with representation on another planet. One small step for punk, etc.
But Green Day isn’t the first band to end up with something of theirs on Mars.