Tuesday, September 5, 2017

And now, a word from MARS

On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcast The War of the Worlds on The Mercury Theatre on the Air. The broadcast seemed so authentic that many people, especially those tuning in late, thought that Earth was being invaded by extraterrestrial beings from the planet Mars.

At the time of the broadcast, Welles had already achieved fame on Broadway for his 1937 production of “Caesar”. In 1941, he released the movie “Citizen Kane”, which is considered to be one of the greatest films of all time.

Believe it or not, some of our friends in Minnesota have a close personal relationship with MARS, which obviously requires a more complete explanation.

In the early 1970’s, our friend Dave joined the Air Force. One of his first duty stations was in the Azores, which are a long way from his home state of Minnesota.

While stationed in the Azores, Dave’s wife DeeDee became pregnant with their first child. Rebecca, who was born on February 7, 1972. As you might suspect, transatlantic phone calls were notoriously unreliable at that time, so Dave and Denise relied on MARS to let their parents in Minnesota about the birth of their granddaughter.

To give you an idea how crude the system was, I’ll let them describe it to you in their own words:

The MARS shack was located next to the weather balloon launch site on a ridge overlooking Lajes Field airbase, the Island of Terceira, Azores, Portugal.  Our operator connected to a Ham operator in Ohio, who called long distance to St. Paul.  Every phrase we uttered ended with "Over!”.

MARS is an acronym for the Military Auxiliary Radio System, and it has existed since November.1925, Originally known as the Auxiliary Amateur Radio System, the name was changed to the Military Affiliate Radio System in 1952. In 2009, the name was again changed to the Military Auxiliary Radio System.

The system was designed to provide better communication options for members of the military, and it is supported by a series of licensed amateur radio operators. It still exists today, in spite of the many other communication options that we now have.

NASA has done an admirable job of surveying the planet Mars, and has determined that there was likely some type of life forms on the planet at some point in the past. It is highly doubtful there were ever any INTELLIGENT life forms at any time in the past. However, if you have seen the movie “Idiocracy” is also apparent that there are even places in our country that are lacking in INTELLIGENT life forms.

Since its introduction in 1967 (as ARPANET) the internet has revolutionized life on our planet. Believe or not, however, it IS possible to send an internet message to the planet Mars. The official name for the network is the NASA Deep Space Network, and it relies on a series of satellites. Even though the communications travel at the speed of light, the vast distance between Earth and Mars means that messages can take anywhere from 3 to 22 minutes, which would make it virtually impossible to carry on a phone conversation of any kind.

Despite their early exposure to MARS, Dave and Denise have suffered no long term ill effects. In fact, they just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.

A perfect ending to this story, of course, would be that they have since traveled to Roswell, New Mexico in their Saturn, and this is where truth gets stranger than fiction.

In the early 1990’s, they bought a brand new first generation Saturn. Also at some point in the distant past, they actually DID travel to Roswell, and actually spent two nights in the town. I’m actually not sure if they went there in their Saturn, but the possibility does exist.

And that’s all that I have to say …………….