I hope that another part of the legacy will be that the mission has been a source of inspiration for young people, encouraging them to pursue careers in science and engineering and technology.- Steve Squyres
In January 2004, I was in Europe with my brother for a couple of weeks and I was complete mesmerized by CNN International as it reported on Spirit on Opportunity. We were in Greece and there was all that great history to see, but it seemed difficult to impress upon people that we had put ROBOTS ON MARS.
Now, less than a decade later, it seems almost pedestrian to PUT A ROBOT ON MARS! How did the world learn about the success of the landing? The Curiosity rover tweeted it, complete with internet meme and hashtag: @MarsCuriosity "I'm safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL"
I have to admit it makes me sad how much focus we have on robotic exploration over human exploration. As much as we NASA is trying to anthropomorphize our little space explorer it is not going to have the childlike sense of awe and wonder that Neil and Buzz did. At this rate it will not be long before there isn't anyone alive who has actually been to the move. I want my tax dollars going to research that will invest technology to let me fly in space. Get with it!