Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Rovers That Pay For Themselves

So I am reading the Samizdata post on the Beagle 2 Martian lander, and I read about how Mars is going to be crawling with landers in the coming months with the arrival of Opportunity and Spirit in January. Beagle 2, for those of you who don't know't, is a European probe, and Spirit and Opportunity are American landers. So I look at the artist rendition and I think of a bunch of robots tooling around on the planet of Mars, and immediately I think:

Wouldn't it be cool if, at the end of their lifecycles, the landers fought it out like Battlebots?

And then I think I am onto something. I mean, think of the possible commercial possibilities that could underwrite part of the cost of the voyage! A pay-per-view spectacular, wherein the robots duke it out in a hostile environment on another world? Dudes, I'd order my first pay-per-view event to see it! Maybe a couple of corporate logos slapped onto the landers, a special camera lander to transmit live video, and bam! You've got enough capital to lift the things at more than seven miles per second, werd.

Picture it. After NASA and the European Space Agency have had their time with the landers, accumulating and transmitting data back to home base, imagine the two rovers rearing up and exposing whirring blades, great spikes and drills, and articulate claws to rend the other into space junk. Because ultimately, that's what they are, junk and refuse and detritus from our exploration. At least we could have some fun with it.

Picture the Beagle 2 and Spirit going at it on the red sands of Mars. Imagine a couple of landers doing battle on the ice of Europa, among the volcanoes of Io, or the hazy surface of Venus. I'd buy the DVDs, dammit.

So get to it, guys. Who needs the X-Prize when you can have the Solar Battlebot Championship Tour? Am I onto something, or just on something here?

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."