As anti-car protesters brace themselves for yet another vehicle on the surface of Mars, some lobbyists are demanding NASA sets a more responsible example to micro-organisms on the red planet.
“Mars gives us a unique opportunity to create a sustainable transport policy from scratch”, explained Jeremy Thwaite of the campaign group BRAKE.
“What sort of society would develop gold-plated, 6-wheel drive plutonium guzzlers, before inventing the Oyster card?”
Using money obtained from a ‘victim surcharge’ on fines paid by motorists caught eating crisps in traffic jams, BRAKE has scratched together enough money to launch a sophisticated traffic-calming mound of tarmac to Mars.
“Having to reach escape velocity has left some of us feeling a little conflicted”, declared Thwaite. “Fortunately we reached a compromise, and we’re using a rocket covered with VOSA safety slogans and reflective tape, they make it look a bit like a police car from a distance.”
Mars speed bump
The sleeping policeman will be placed near a popular tourist spot on Mars, the foothills of a 3 mile-high peak identified by scientists as having the potential to support organic life.
“Sure, ‘Curiosity’ may only be able to do 0.06 miles an hour at the moment. But as soon as another ‘bling’ explorer robot from a rival gang of scientists turns up, they’ll be racing up and down without a thought to the local residents, you mark my words”, insisted Thwaite.
“I don’t know how they can concentrate with their fancy radios on, either. You can hear that one 40 million miles away.”
NASA doesn’t think the speed hump is necessary, but has designed the Mars rover to negotiate hostile terrain, just in case.
“We were originally planning to send an electric moped”, admitted Dan Hurst, NASA’s fleet manager,
“It would have been exempt from any future ‘congestion charging’. But with night-time temperatures below -200 degrees Celsius, planet-wide dust storms and now a hastily installed traffic calming measure that has no prospect of being maintained, we thought we’d play it safe with an off-roader.”
Thwaite has accused NASA of hypocrisy, particularly as they’re planning to run the rover continuously until the wheels fall off.
“Tearing around in a poorly serviced vehicle sets a bad example to young drivers”, he claimed.
“NASA is used to making costly trips to hostile environments with no signs of intelligent life, which is why I’m surprised they’re so reluctant to visit a Martian branch of Kwik Fit.”