Monday, November 10, 2008

RIP - Phoenix Lander and Miriam Makeba

Two obituaries today: Miriam Makeba, who brought "world music" to the west along with her arguments against apartheid, before either was particularly fashionable (indeed, while it was still illegal for blacks and whites to marry in many states in the US), and the Phoenix Lander that has brought us an amazing vision of Mars.

I'll put the inanimate Phoenix below the fold and start with Miriam Makeba singing "When I've Passed On" (circa 1966), which seems eerily suitable for today:

You should click through and look at some of the related videos ("The Click Song" and "Pata Pata" are her famous ones) if you are not familiar with her African music. Along with Hugh Masekela, she brought South African music to the US (and the world) in the mid 60s. It amazed me when I read that she still performing at 76. This video is one of a set recorded in Stockholm. She is backed by musicians from St. Thomas, the US, and Brazil. (Obligatory Wiki link is here. Bonus question at the bottom for any young folks who know who her husband, Stokely Carmichael, was.)

The Phoenix Lander on Mars

I written about Phoenix before, and have been meaning to come back to it to point out some of the amazing things it has seen since it slipped off of the national media spotlight. (Between the election and the attention span of the US media, even seeing weather on Mars never had a chance.)

There is a wonderful collection of images and related stories (along with lots of other information) on the Phoenix Lander web site. I'll select a few ? of my favorites here:

It was supposed to be a 90-day mission, ending on August 25th. Apparently they got regular reports until the end of October when low power caused the lander to go into a hibernation mode and have had only minimal communications through November 2.

You can read today's wrap-up news release here.

Not bad for a government project ...

Special bonus question:
Compare and contrast the apparent re-election of Sen. Ted Stevens to the election of Adam Clayton Powell to fill the seat vacated when he was thrown out of the House of Representatives for corruption. There is a pair for you!

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