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August 10, 2012 at 9:01 AM

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How long did it take for Curiosity Lander to reach Mars?

I want the Mars landing by Curiosity Lander to be a bigger deal than it seems to be. The anonymous nature of the journey and landing suggest space exploration has become something easy to ignore. We don't know this stuff is going on, and we don't care. So sad.

Times science reporter Sandi Doughton wrote about the Redmond rocketeers who made the engines for the Mars mission. This sentence leaped out: "The Redmond team started working on the Curiosity project in 1998."

NASA spacecraft have made 13 trips to Mars, with seven landings. Curiosity cost $2.5 billion, and features lots of gizmos to look for the chemicals that support life as we know it. The lander set down where there are signs of water.

So much good work done in anonymous silence is a puzzle. OK, so it took 253 days to reach Mars. NASA needs to do a better job of building a constituency for its work, and launching the imaginations of the next generation of rocket scientists.

Maybe the word "ignored" carries a bit of slander. The work is hidden and denies America's elemental curiosity.

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