The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The first and sure-to-be-enduring images of Mars from the Curiosity rover look like something out of a post-apocalyptic novel. Dusty, mountainous, orange-tinged and deserted.
What the Mars landing means, however, is anything but. It's not about the end of civilization as we know it. It's about a new frontier.
President Barack Obama said words this week that can be uttered only once: "Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history."
What a proud moment for our nation. Landing the one-ton, plutonium-fueled rover in and of itself was exceptional. Now, the scientists and engineers involved in the project, including Raymond E. Arvidson, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished Washington University professor, get to use the rover to explore.
Arvidson, who has been poking around on Mars since 2004 with the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, will use Curiosity as an instrument to learn about Martian soils. He and hundreds of others are looking for carbon-based molecules and other evidence that life may have existed on Mars, or that it could sustain life in the future.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has used the landing to knock back suggestions that the space agency, created with aplomb by the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, had gotten old and creaky.
John P. Holdren, the president's science adviser, summed it up this way: "If anybody has been harboring doubts about the status of U.S. leadership in space, well, there's a one-ton automobile-size piece of American ingenuity. And it's sitting on the surface of Mars right now."
If that statement doesn't kindle a spark of can-do spirit, you've spent too much time listening to the naysayers and demagogues who would have you believe that the hope, promise and spunk of the United States is dead.
All we can say to that is, "Go get 'em, rover."
The following editorial appeared in the Orlando Sentinel:
It's been a while since we've seen a nail-biter like this one.
Not only did Curiosity have to travel some 350 million miles from Earth to Mars, the spacecraft then had to make a super-heated descent through the Martian atmosphere, deploy a parachute, dump the chute, then fire some rockets on a kind of hovercraft while a "sky-crane" gently lowered a car-sized rover to the surface. Are you kidding?
And yet, NASA pulled it off early Monday, demonstrating some of the old derring-do that once endeared the agency to the American public.
It was an energizing change of pace from the exhausting tar pits of American politics and the random massacres that seem to take place with alarming regularity.
Curiosity will spend several years on the surface of Mars, slowly and methodically analyzing its geology for signs of earlier life, and even occasionally zapping rock formations with an onboard laser. Pretty cool.
It's the kind of mission that should remind us -- and Congress -- why the American space program is worth preserving and protecting. Americans are a curious people, and exploring the heavens appeals to our better nature.
It should also serve as a reminder that the nation's space agency is at its best when its goals are audacious.
If the public can get so excited about an unmanned rover on Mars, imagine the reaction to human footprints on the Red Planet.