#104: Per ads ad astra

The Mars Rovers have been spectacularly successful in their mission. The cost though, for a species like ours that can’t even feed itself, has been high: a billion dollars, give or take.

Today’s invention is a way to help recoup some of the costs. Although Spirit and Discovery move at the pace of a NASA committee on decision day, their capabilities are constantly being enhanced by remote uplink from Earth. At some stage, they may be deemed effectively obsolete, at which point I propose that their speed be upped in order to allow them to draw messages on the red planet’s surface.


This would, for a while, be the prime advertising real estate in the Solar System. With the eyes of the world watching (having the robots fight or crash over a cliff would help here), corporations would be allowed to bid for ‘scratch-time’, ie to have their logos and other marketing messages engraved by the trowels and ploughs of the intrepid robot explorers…

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