Rover returns views of
a mysterious land
Article Courtesy of The Arizona Republic
By Laurie Roberts
Posted January 10, 2004

This just in: After 33 failed missions, scientists have finally landed a probe in that vast, mysterious land that has long fired the imagination of those who look to the skies and wonder what manner of world lies beyond.

In a historic mission that could breach the 105 million-mile gulf between our two planets, the rover Curiosity has completed its journey and is beaming back astonishing three-dimensional images of this alien land.

The first pictures reveal a startlingly desolate surface, a rather bleak landscape marked by what appears to be a road sign that we can just make out. It seems to say, "Scottsdale and McDowell." 

We aren't quite sure what this means, but it is clear that there was once life here We are endeavoring to establish what cataclysmic event destroyed this place, but so far we are picking up only an echo of an answer that doesn't seem to make sense. Just the words "Steve Ellman," repeated over and over.

Disguised as a golf cart so as not to call too much attention to our presence, the rover has been able to move about in our study of this strange new world. Preliminary evidence suggests it is a place unlike any other. 

These Earth beings mourn the loss of a hockey arena that would have loomed over dwelling units and created traffic jams that we haven't seen since the rush to that hot new Disney theme park on Pluto.

They take great pride in considering their city the cool spot to be (hockey notwithstanding), yet so desperate are they to renew life here that they offer hundreds of millions in Earth money to get a low-end big box that we wouldn't touch if it were the last thing on Mars.

In this land, the students drive nicer cars than their teachers. In this land, they spend millions to build special fields for the rich ballplayers they worship while they charge Little Leaguers to use public parks.

In this land, they have taken a spectacular desert, one that exists nowhere else in the solar system, and plopped ever-more dwelling units in 120 shades of brown all over it. This, they call being environmentally sensitive. 

They live behind guarded gates in communities with names like Eagle Mountain and Whisper Rock, places where soon there will no longer be much of either.

They talk about private property rights, then they form something called an HOA so they can fine each other for painting their house the wrong shade of brown or daring to put up a basketball hoop.

But there is hope for these upscale Earthlings. Our thermal emissions spectrometer is picking up residual heat from the coming elections, which promise all manner of possibility for this place. A chance to change the way their representatives are elected. A chance to put a stop to that Wal-Mart madness. A chance even to save some more of that beautiful landscape before it's too late.

Plus there are golf courses here, and just as you can never have too many Starbucks, you can never have too many golf courses.

Further exploration has shown this is, indeed, a beautiful spot and one we could well recommend as a vacation destination (though we suggest rocketing in with your own rover, as the car rental taxes will kill you). 

Despite these Earthlings' best efforts, there is a magnificence to this place that not even the bulldozers have been able to extinguish. A sky so blue it nearly blinds you with its brilliance. The mountains at sunset would make you think you were home. 

It is heaven on Mars - or something like that.

Oh, at first sighting the people can be a little scary. They aren't your normal green, after all, but hey, we can't all be gorgeous. They appear friendly enough, as long as you don't identify yourself as being from the northern reaches of this Earth city. To hear the people in the south tell it, those northern creatures have spouted diamond-studded horns and tails.

Our studies tell us that's not really true, as the southerners might discover if they really took the time to find out about their neighbors. But hey, it's their planet.

There is one curiosity we have not yet figured out, though. We have asked several of these Earth aliens to take us to their leader. Always the response is the same:

What leader?