Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Martian internet server

Focus people more on space
  (+6)
(+6)
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Design a computer to current specifications, make it really tough and send it to Mars. It sits there, solar-powered, with a webcam, various other sensors, some storage space and some backing storage, probably flash memory, protected from the radiation by burying itself - the camera sticks out of the top along with the antenna. That antenna communicates with an orbiter, which boosts the signal and sends it to Earth, and also a nearby remote control rover. The bandwidth is, of course, amazingly low.
Space probes communicate with the server and space can be bought on it, by the space agencies involved and by private individuals. You can look at the webcam and other data, it will host a website for you at a phenomenally huge sum (which funds it). It also acts as a mail server, and for a slightly less phenomenal sum, you can have an email address which is physically located on Mars. Users can also log in to the server by telnet and control things like the direction the webcam is pointing in and the rover, allowing one to do such things as write one's name in the sand on Mars through turtle commands, obviously very slowly.

There is actually a point to this. It focuses people on space travel and the reality of other planets, giving us some perspective on our own lives and our place in the Universe, it's self-funding through the lucrative kudos of having a web site or email address hosted on another planet, and it serves as a monument to document that we once existed.

The big problems are the tiny bandwidth and what happens if it crashes.

nineteenthly, Mar 26 2009

Webcam on the Moon Webcam_20on_20the_20Moon
A not completely dissimilar idea [hippo, Mar 26 2009]

Martian Rover Exploration home page http://marsrovers.n...gov/home/index.html
Admittedly no storage space but plently of Mars-based content. [Aristotle, Mar 26 2009]

[link]






       Nice idea - as you say, it appeals to the imagination
hippo, Mar 26 2009
  

       Zeno@mars.orbit
zeno, Mar 26 2009
  

       This will make Marvin soooo aaaaangry.   

       Don't we already have a couple of Martian rovers wandering over Mars at the moment, sending back info? Although one is currently broken down, awaiting attempts to revive it once the Martian winter has passed.
Aristotle, Mar 26 2009
  

       Yes indeed, but i doubt they can be steered around using turtle graphics commands. To be honest, i'd like a whole network of them throughout the solar system, but it's probably best to start small. Even one in low Earth orbit would be something.
nineteenthly, Mar 26 2009
  

       Email's slow enough already for some of us. Why would we want one on Mars, where 15 minute responses are required by the speed of light, and solar flares make it impossible to recognize for a few weeks every year?
ye_river_xiv, Mar 26 2009
  

       It'd be gimmicky, that's the point. People can be persuaded to pay silly amounts of money for very little given the right image and sales pitch. In the case of a Martian email server and enough disposable income, i am actually one of those idiots. Imagine the pose value of being able to say, "Sorry, I didn't pick up your email because the server was on the other side of the Sun." See what i mean?
nineteenthly, Mar 26 2009
  

       I like it - would websites start with "mww."?
MadnessInMyMethod, Mar 26 2009
  

       Brilliant! Yes! But i think they should be contrived to be something like "mmm", then Venus could get "vvv" and so on. What about Mercury though?   

       Martian Meta Matrix? Macro? Mega?
nineteenthly, Mar 26 2009
  

       This, I like. [+]
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 26 2009
  
      
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