To celebrate my return to communication, I'll post about a loss of the same; namely, the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS). It recently celebrated its tenth year in space... from a mission designed for three.
It's kind of like the Enterprise, a five year mission that just keeps friggin' going. It also stands as a testament to what can happen when stuff goes right. The public eye has grown so jaded and selective as on to what it focuses that great successes that should be heralded barely manage a peep. Yet total failures earn as much coverage as Britney's most recent antics.
The fact that MGS lasted SEVEN years longer than expected, and if they fix the problem longer still, shows the grand dividends paid out from a prudent investment into science and discovery. There is no cost-benefit analysis that can effectively determine what can come from such investment.
I'm sure there were a number of insipid bureaucrats who whined about the cost of a mission set only to last three years, and yet here we are, ten years later. The dedication of those who love knowledge continually push projects beyond any expectations in this age of disinterest. I know that, in the future, it is they who will be honored, not those who complain about budgets, pinch pennies, and talk of no return on such massive investment.
An investment into the advancement of the human race returns not money, but instead something of such immense worth that it stands wholly beyond measure. I would rather know a single thing than have a million dollars in my pocket.
NASA struggles to contact lost Mars probe (Via NewScientist.com)