Big Weekend for NASA

Yesterday, the Stardust probe passed the comet Wild 2 (pronounced “Throat-Warbler Mangrove” “Vilt 2”) snapping pictures and taking dust samples. If all goes well, the samples will be returned to Earth for study in 2006.

Tonight, of course, the first of two NASA rovers will land on Mars. In light of the total failure of a Japanese probe and the failure to communicate with a British lander, it should be obvious to everyone that this is no sure thing.

NASA, which has suffered setback after setback in recent decades, needs these rovers to succeed. In the aftermath of the Columbia disaster, they need a success to run up the flag pole.

I’m pulling for them.