Sunday, July 26, 2009

Landfill on Mars

There is enthusiasm for manned spaceflight to Mars. I’m for it. It’s insane, but better than blowing up Pakistan. We can send our garbage (to Mars, not Pakistan).

So I’m sitting here looking at my Timmy’s chili cup, in its brown paper bag with plastic spoon that has been hermetically sealed in plastic that I can’t open so throw it away with the empty cup and the brown paper bag, and I think, where does this stuff go? Landfill.

Meanwhile, clever robots that are way past their expiry dates (Detroit take notice, if anyone is still there) are sending fabulous photos, some in 3D, showing huge EMPTY CRATERS. Perfect.

The Martian landscape leaves something to be desired. I mean, it’s pretty dull. Where are the Styrofoam coffee cups, the Timmy’s Timbit boxes, McDonald’s hamburger containers, used condoms, dead syringes, ejected machine gun bullet casings from Afghanistan, and paper napkins from Denny’s? Nowhere. This is a sterile landscape. It needs a bit of life, and we can add that by crashing huge containers of garbage at selected sites, and then paving the whole thing over with asphalt products found on the Moon and freighted to Mars at reasonable expense by Halliburton, who by chance have funded a National Institutes of Health Research Initiative: “Sharing the Wealth: How human garbage recreates the possibility of life on Mars.” It’s a win-win-win situation.

Elsewhere, neurosurgeons in Calgary are figuring out how to repair cerebral aneurysms during interplanetary flight, which will be important so as not to crash the garbage at sites that are not landfill, but destined for human habitation. I mean, how would that look? “That’s one small step for man, and a giant step for….” WHAM! …. a container of used Styrofoam, partially decomposed vegetable matter, and the scrapings of two gazillion left over pizza boxes obliterates a poetic human moment.

Obviously, although we can do neurosurgery by robots, we need a human explorer to carefully select the sites at which garbage will be crashed, much like Neil Armstrong saved the day by carefully landing the lunar lander so nobody got killed, although the Mars Viking landers didn't kill anybody either, were cheaper, and much more interesting than Apollo, apart from the human interest side which was considerable.

“Good morning, garbage. This is your captain speaking. We are expecting a smooth flight to Mars, lasting approximately six months, and at your destination will be crashing appropriately. For your comfort and convenience, please consume whatever you find in your containers, or relax and just decompose at your leisure. In the unlikely event that emergency neurosurgery is required, the "neuron" sign will fire intermittently somewhere, and you should return to your container immediately and hope for a miracle.”

Only the most highly selected humans will be needed for Garbage Shepherds, Astronaut Swampers, to cleanse the Earth and prepare Mars for the Awakening, when life springs forth from Timmy’s cardboard containers and a new atmosphere is created that resembles smog, and the Mars rovers, indomitable little machines, finally expire in a wheeze of newly created methane and carbon monoxide.

Obviously, Dick Cheney should be there to supervise the whole thing, and a representative of the Hunt family, “one of us”, to make sure that “we” have things going the way “we” want, as well as George W. Bush to arrange the golf course on which he can play through without inconvenience. Al Shepard golfed on the Moon, and he lived in Texas. Why shouldn’t Bush golf on Mars?

So I’m also designing a golf course on Mars, next to the landfill. OK, it will be ON the landfill. That works. It’s environmentally friendly. There’s already a sandtrap.