Curiosity at Rocknest

A pretty stunning Mars photo from Rocknest was released by NASA a couple of weeks back. Here it is in the event you missed it.

This full-circle view combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, generating a panorama with 1.3 billion pixels in the full-resolution version.

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Of course, there’s also something distinctly gloomy about the photo, for it shows a rocky planet billions of years old that has probably never possessed a single multicellular life form, let alone so grand a thing as a tree. By contrast, below is an example of Earth’s embarrassment of riches, the Hooker Oak in Chico California. It was once thought to be the largest oak tree in the world. It fell in 1977 and was featured in the old Errol Flynn 1930s Hollywood version of Robin Hood. The director, rather than filming at Nottingham’s Sherwood Forest in England, used Chico as a set substitute.

File:Hooker Oak.png

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According to Wikipedia:

The gavel used at City Council meetings by the mayor of Chico was made from the Hooker Oak. The public benches in the lobby of the Chico City Council Chambers were made out of Hooker Oak wood by local artist Paul Atkins.

The location of the tree is registered as California Historical Landmark[1] and can be found in Bidwell Park. A booklet, “The History of the Hooker Oak” was written by Debra Moon for the City Of Chico Bidwell Park Centennial Hooker Oak Bench Project and printed in July 2005.

Like a rich person living in Beverly Hills, we take so much of the life around us and in us for granted. Seeing images from the Martian desert reminds us of how very, very rich and strange we all are. A plant of any kind on Mars would be a source of stupifying wonder. But when we look into the eyes of one another, why aren’t we also consistently rocked by an equivalent wonder?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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