As you know I'm a big fan of space exploration, specifically our imminent colonization of Mars....because I'm a geek like that. With the Mars Phoenix, which touched down on the Red Planet over the weekend, NASA included all kinds of experimental apparati to determine the amount of recoverable water there, plus the garden variety space experiments. But then I read where they included a DVD for viewing.....
Attached to the deck of the lander (next to the US Flag) is "The Phoenix DVD", compiled by the Planetary Society. The disc contains Visions of Mars, a multimedia collection of literature and art about the Red Planet. Works include the text of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds (and its infamous radio broadcast by Orson Welles), Percival Lowell's Mars as the Abode of Life with a map of his proposed canals, Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, and Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Mars. There are also messages directly addressed to future Martian visitors or settlers from, among others, Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke. In 2006, The Planetary Society collected a quarter million names submitted through the internet and placed them on the disc, which claims, on the front, to be "the first library on Mars".
The Phoenix DVD is made of a special silica glass designed to withstand the Martian environment, lasting for hundreds (if not thousands) of years on the surface while it awaits discoverers.
Is the purpose of this exploration not to colonize Mars at some point? Maybe in our lifetimes? I could see sending a signal into deep space, or to attach a DVD on a deep-space craft in case somebody finds it, but we're going to be there in a few decades hopefully. I'm sure there's some environmental message warning the Martians not to pollute their planet because we want a pristine environment to rape and pillage when we finally get there.