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WEEKLY WHINE

MRO yeah

Well, last week, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter inserted itself into orbit around Mars. It will now, like Mars Global Surveyor and 2001 Mars Odyssey before it, aerobrake for a few months to drop down into its science orbit. Then, once it does that, it will scan the surface with cameras, spectrometers, and other exciting instruments. The ultimate objective of all this, in addition to knowing more stuff about Mars, which nobody could possibly be against, except maybe Tommy Cruise, who probably thinks he's from Mars and already knows everything about it, is to examine potential landing sites for future missions.

As usual, this latest mission has got the public excited, except for those who said, "Duh... what?" Those who didn't wrote to us, with their words travelling directly into the GoobNet Mailbox. So prepare to be amazed at the astounding annoyance of astronomical awareness as we blow open the GoobNet Mailbox. And just to be safe, put this tinted plate glass in front of your eyes.

What is the objective of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter? – Carla Podenski, Bratislava, Slovakia

We just told you that.

What's your favourite Mars spacecraft? I liked Pathfinder. – Marie Ellen Dajambie, Brugge, Belgium

We're going to go with MER-A. You know, the MERs have some great flight directors.

Thank you. – Chris Lewicki, Monrovia, CA, USA

You're welcome.

How long is this mission going to last? – Grant Whenstrom, Portland, OR, USA

The primary mission is scheduled to last two years. But since so many spacecraft have been lasting beyond their design life, there's a good chance that MRO will be alive beyond that two year mark as well.

How do you kill a Mars spacecraft? – Tashauna Rice-Franklin, Tallahassee, FL, USA

I don't know. How do you kill a Mars spacecraft?

I don't know either. That's why I'm asking you. – Tashauna Rice-Franklin, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Okay, you were obviously expecting a joke from us, and we were expecting a joke from you. This is what we call a stalemated punchline. To resolve the stalemate, we'll open the board up for suggestions from other readers. Do you have a punchline for this joke? Send it in.

Leave out one line of code! Ha ha ha ha! – Paula Vastrynschka, Moscow, Russia

That's mean.

By setting the upper stage restart timer to 1.1 years instead of 1.1 hours! Ha ha ha ha! – Gary Wallenda, Houston, TX, USA

Shut up.

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