Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wondering where Cassini got that funny ringtone?

The Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Centre, which NASA uses to communicate with space probes when California and Spain are on the wrong sides of the planet, is located in a quiet agricultural valley drought-stricken wasteland about 30 km southwest of Canberra. It’s a fairly out-of-the way place, with little to offer other than a wildlife reserve, some burned-out pine plantations, and a few overgrazed paddocks. As a result, I hadn’t been out that way for a while.

This afternoon, however, after showing my visiting brother and his girlfriend around the nature reserve, I noticed a new sign on the space center access road. It turns out it wasn’t ET phoning home after all. It was just Bruce Yobbo calling in his takeaway. And the face on Mars was just a drunk guy checking in with his wife on his camera phone.

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