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CLAYTON RYE

By Staff | Aug 17, 2012

Now, wasn’t that some event a few weeks ago? No, no, not the women’s competition in sand volleyball during the Olympics. Well, that was some event, too, but what I am writing about is the landing of the Mars Rover on Mars.

The numbers are astounding. From here to Mars varies greatly but averages about 140 million miles and just getting there took eight months. That is not something you would put in your GPS.

This was accomplished while both the earth and Mars were orbiting which means they hit a moving target while moving. That is, “Nice shootin’, Tex.”

Then the rover lowered itself onto the surface, not only on the planet Mars, but in a specific crater that was chosen before it left earth.

Now it is sending back photos of the planet’s surface taking about 7 minutes for the radio signals to make it from there to here. It takes almost 14 minutes to send a command and receive a response and that is traveling at the speed of light.

At 186,000 miles per second, the speed of light is no slouch. The light from the moon, which astronomically speaking is just across the kitchen table, requires three seconds to reach the earth as it travels through space.

I find all of this amazing because when the Board of Trade opens each morning, I put a radio in the window at 9:30 and align it with an AM radio station about 250 miles to my west to hear the start of the grain market.

It has been a challenge to find what is happening with the grain market once a person leaves corn and soybean country. I remember being in Duluth, Minn., on the shore of Lake Superior tuned in to a radio station about 400 miles away in Des Moines, listening for the markets between the buzzing and cracking on the radio. It did not go well.

Visiting my cousin in Billings, Mont., I discovered the price of corn and soybeans does not even get a mention. Don’t these people realize how important this information is?

This summer we have traveled to southwest Colorado and finding a grain market is relatively easy. My wife has her cell phone that connects with the Internet and once I find an open wi-fi connection, even my e-reader brings up the markets on any commodity including the ones I do not want to know about.

It would not surprise me that the Mars Rover can get the grain markets where it is, although it would be with about a 7-minute delay allowing for travel. Don’t you just love technology?

My passion for photography is no secret and the Mars Rover is equipped with 17 cameras. I would say that is about the right amount for any kind of travel.

Equipped with communications and cameras, the Mars Rover is the ultimate tourist sending us electronic postcards of its travels, although I doubt any of them say, “Wish you were here.”

And while I am sure the Mars Rover could get the grain market anytime it wants, you know what it really wants. Yes, it wants pictures of the sand volleyball team, women’s competition.

Don’t you just love technology?

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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