Mars, 1997: NASA's Mars Pathfinder mission in the summer of 1997 trilled the world as an inexpensive "faster-cheaper-better" satellite deposited a lander, dubbed Sagan Station in deferance to the late astronomer Carl Sagan, on the surface of Mars. Then the Sagan Station lander, guided by a Power-based computer, directed the Mars Rover, dubbed Sojourner, on trips across the Martian landscape. Extreme cold eventually brought this amazing saga to a close.
And through it all, silence from IBM and Apple. IBM, which made the Power chip at the heart of Sagan Station, and Apple, the largest user of Power-derived chips, such as the PowerPC 601, 603, 604, and "G3" chips used by Power Macintosh computers, said nothing. Not a word was spoken by either company about the thrilling adventures of their digital kin on a distant planet.
Lost marketing questions aside, there is also the mystery of the Mars Pathfinder mission's eventual end. The Sagan lander and Sojourner rover did better than expected, but the sudden loss of contact was, just the same, a blow. Some have suspected Martians (NASA's previous Mars mission came to a sudden end just before the satellite reached the planet; a victim of Martian defense forces?), while NASA has claimed extreme cold and violent weather.
But there is another possibility: bad taste in music. Carrying on a tradition dating back to the Mercury and Gemini flights, NASA Pathfinder engineers "woke up" Sagan Station and the Rover every day with "appropriate" music. And after looking at the list of songs played, you, too, may conclude that Sagan Station and Sojourner just got tired of listening to this...
|4||"The Final Frontier"|
Paul Reiser, Don Was (Theme from "Mad About You")
|5||"Three Little Birds"|
|6||"In The Mood"|
Glenn Miller (with live accompaniment by Chief Engineer Rob Manning)
|8||"Coisinha Do Pai"|
|12||"You've Got a Friend"|
|13||"Follow You, Follow Me"|
|14||"Also Sprach Zarathustra"|
Richard Strauss (Theme from "2001: A Space Odyssey")
|17||"Roll to Me"|
|18||"Let the Good Times Roll"|
|19||"So Far Away"|
|20||"Life in the Fast Lane"|
|21||"Ride of the Valkyries"|
|22||"Wild, Wild Life"|
|23||"Theme from Rawhide"|
Bim Skala Bim
|27||"I'll Be There For You"|
Rembrandts (Theme from "Friends")
|29||"Learning to Fly"|
"The Way You Look Tonight"
"Fantastic, That's You"
[Two songs for the 30th day]
|32||"Love Me Like a Rock"|
|33||"You've Made Me So Very Happy"|
Blood, Sweat and Tears
|34||"Let Your Fingers Do the Walking"|
|35||"The World is Waiting for the Sunrise"|
Gene Lockhart (father of June Lockhart of "Lost in Space")
|36||"Obscured By Clouds"|
|37||"Where the Streets Have No Name"|
Tempus Fugit and the Time Travellers