Moon Landings and Mars Rovers: Fascination and Ambivalence

The day before I left on vacation, the front page of the New York Times showed something (well, two things) unusual: black-and-white photographs.

The photo on the left showed a gentle-sloped mountain rising from a desolate plain; on the right, vehicle tracks through rocky dirt. The composition of the photo on the left—framing, shape of mountain, spareness of other detail—reminded me of prints and paintings I’ve seen of Mount Fuji. But that’s not why I tore off the page, scribbled a few notes in pencil, and left it on my desk.

On July 20, 1969, I was seven years old. My parents and brother and I had flown down to Burbank to visit my uncle, the way we did every summer, for a week of barbecues, backyard-pool-swimming, visiting Disneyland, and smog. [Read more…]