In a matter of hours, Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States of America. The world of science – and pretty much most of the planet, to be honest – is aghast that this has all actually come to pass for some rather obvious reasons, and plenty of them are saying a sad farewell to outgoing President Obama.
Far from being a shrinking violet, the Curiosity rover on Mars has decided to chime in on the goodbyes too.
When it landed on the Red Planet back in 2012, it was carrying an engraved plaque containing the signatures of plenty of America’s top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and the POTUS himself, Mr Obama. On the 44th Martian Day of its exciting mission – in honor of the 44th president, who has since childhood had a fascination with space – it took a selfie, which featured the plaque.
At the time, it was a nice salute to the ever-curious, data-driven, science geek occupying the Oval Office. Keeping an eye on events from the Martian surface, and possibly lamenting the inauguration of the reality TV show star from hell, Curiosity retweeted this selfie once more, noting that it “carried POTUS’s signature to the surface of Mars” with a fairly proud tone.
Spotting this tweet on January 12, President Obama tweeted back. Not being able to resist a good dad joke, he replied: “That is out of this world,” before adding his thanks.
This little exchange is a fitting send off from the Curiosity team to Obama, who has committed NASA to getting a manned mission to Mars by the 2030s.
“There are a lot of good things about being President,” Obama remarked last year, at the White House’s Annual Science Fair. “But some of the best moments that I’ve had as President have involved science.”
“I mean, I have shot a marshmallow out of a cannon directly under Lincoln’s portrait," he added. “I’ve learned about prototypes from six-year-old Girl Scouts who built a page-turning machine out of Legos for people who might be disabled.
“Most importantly, I’ve just been able to see the unbelievable ingenuity and passion and curiosity and brain power of America’s next generation, and all the cool things that they do.”
Obama at his final White House Science Fair. Obama White House via YouTube
There has rarely been an American president who has been so genuinely enthralled and engaged by science as the 44th. Trump has the most enormous shoes to fill in this regard alone.