SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Tuesday, Feb. 10, 12:02 PM PST

TechTV Presents "Behind the Technology: Sojourner"

by Brent the Johnson,
NA!P NewsWire

MARS -- Once hailed as "mankind's greatest step," Mars rover Sojourner now faces the bleak, unforgiving future of a "technological has-been," according to a new episode of TechTV's Behind the Technology.

As NASA's latest rovers crawl over the surface of Mars, drilling, testing and shattering distance records that once belonged to Sojourner, it's apparent that the embittered machine is entering a new stage of its existence -- or perhaps checking out.

"The year was 1997 when the plucky rover Sojourner embarked on its then one-of-a-kind drive across the Martian landscape," begins the documentary, depicting the little-rover-that-could as the world then perceived it -- a courageous mite of a machine boldly going where no rover had gone before.

Being in the spotlight and the center of an entire planet's attention produced fame and success for Sojourner -- but the publicity quickly went to its CPU.

"I own it all!" Sojourner declared during a joint appearance with Poison's Bret Michaels on ABC's Nightline soon after landing on the red planet. "I own Mars! I own Earth! Man, I own you, Ted Koppel!"

"Smokin', man, smokin'!" added Michaels.

"I remember thinking, 'Sojourner's gonna fall, and when it falls, that little <BLEEP>'s gonna fall hard," Koppel reminisces during the hour-long show.

Koppel's prediction proved correct: Since its 15 minutes of fame, Sojourner's existence has proved anything but glorious. As quickly as it had become a celebrated interstellar object, the rover quickly fell out of the public view, soon spiraling into a destructive pattern of drugs, alcohol and a continuous replay of Poison's first album, Look What The Cat Dragged In.

"I got depressed, I got fat... suicidal, maybe," the machine candidly admits to the camera. "You know, most of y'all just think I ran out of juice, but the fact is, NASA coulda made me stronger, faster, better. I coulda drilled freakin' rocks -- like that's hard! Screw Spirit and Opportunity -- they couldn't hold my shocks! Ah <BLEEP>, I can't talk about this..."

Sojourner didn't take well the news of Spirit's record-shattering trip of 70 feet in one day.

"Eew! Big boy's travelled three times the distance I ever did in an arbitrary unit of time! Make way for the King of Mars, cuz he's gonna totally crowd your ass out! Make way! Make way! Make the <BLEEP>ing way! <BLEEP> Spirit."

At the end of the episode, Sojourner reflects on its operating lifespan.

"It's lonely here -- windy, dusty, quiet," Sojourners says. "Ain't like Brett Michael's calling any more, now that no one knows who I am. All I got to keep me company is dirt, rocks, that old-ass outdated lander over there... HEY, YOU! YOU SHUT THE <BLEEP> UP, YOU <BLEEP>ING PIECE OF STATIONARY <BLEEP>!"

The lander does not answer, though Sojourner apparently thinks otherwise.

"OH NO, OH NO YOU DIDN'T. YOU DIDN'T TALK BACK TO ME LIKE THAT! WHAT? WHAT? I DON'T CARE IF YOU DID LAND ME, YOU'RE NOT MY MOTHER!"

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