Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Title text: We all remember those famous first words spoken by an astronaut on the surface of Mars: "That's one small step fo- HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT IT'S GOT SOME KIND OF DRILL! Get back to the ... [unintelligible] ... [signal lost]"
|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Needs citations.|
This comic is talking about the robotic science platform Opportunity. On January 25, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars for the purpose of gathering data about the surface of Mars.
Also sent to Mars on the same date was another Martian rover, Spirit. Unfortunately, this became stuck and a sand storm covered its solar panels. On March 22, it is thought that Spirit's batteries finally ran out, marking the end of its mission. This was memorably covered in 695: Spirit, in which the Spirit rover is portrayed as sentient.
In 2015, the Opportunity rover is still alive and moving, amazing the scientists at ground control.
However, in 2023, Opportunity has apparently become so powerful that it has become dangerous, destroying the rover sent in 2020. To try and stop it, Cueball and Megan disconnected the battery but to no avail. This is similar to the stories of HAL 9000 (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and V'Ger (from Star Trek: The Motion Picture), both of which became sentient and dangerously unstable.
By 2450, humans have colonised and terraformed Mars. “Everything the light touches” is a reference to what Mufasa says in The Lion King. (Mufasa's son Simba then asks "What about that shadowy place?" and Mufasa tells him “That is beyond our borders. You must never go there”.) What this all implies is the Opportunity has dominated half of the planet.
The title text refers to the first words of the first astronauts on the surface of Mars. At first, the astronaut copies the first words of Neil Armstrong on the Moon ("That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind") but it is interrupted by the Opportunity rover. Onboard the rover uses a drill for sampling rocks, but here it uses it to murder the astronaut.
|| This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
Ponytail (at a computer): After six years, Spirit is down, but Opportunity is still going strong.
Hair Bun: Tough little rover!
Eleven years, wow!
Wasn't the original mission 90 days?
This is starting to get weird.
Cueball: The battery is totally disconnected! How can it still be moving?
Megan: Given what it did to the Mars 2020 rover, we may never know.
2450, Tereaformed Mars, Mars Imperial Capital:
Cueball and Megan are standing on a Martian cliff near a sci-fi city.
Cueball: Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Megan (pointing to some distant mountains): What's that dark area?
Cueball: That is Opportunity's half of the planet. We must never go there.
- [Ponytail and Hair Bun sitting at a Computer.]
- Ponytail: After six years, Spirit is down, but Opportunity is still going strong.
- Hair Bun: Tough little rover!
- [Opportunity driving on the Mars.]
- Offscreen: Eleven years, wow.
- Offscreen 2: Wasn't the original mission 90 days?
- Offscreen: This is starting to get weird.
- [Cueball and Megan sitting at a computer.]
- Cueball: The battery is totally disconnected. How can it still be moving?
- Megan: Given what it did to the Mars 2020 rover, we may never know.
- 2450, terraformed Mars, martian imperial capital:
- [Some martian inhabits looking like Cueball and Megan pointing in the dark.]
- Cueball-Martian: Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
- Megan-Martian: What's that dark area?
- Cueball-Martian: This is Opportunity's half of the planet. We must never go there
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