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Two of the drivers of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Ashley Stroupe and Scott Maxwell, were fortunate to host a very special visitor to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory a couple of years ago. Science fiction author Ray Bradbury came, and even though he was wheel-chair-bound, he received the grand tour, and the two rover drivers showed him huge panoramic images taken by the rovers and even let Bradbury drive a 3-D computer model of the rovers. Stroupe tells the story of Bradbury’s visit in the video above, and Maxwell told his version of the story in a blog post back in 2009, which was re-published on the Planetary Blog. Of Bradbury seeing the panoramas, Maxwell wrote, “These just happen to be perfect for Bradbury: color panoramic images of Mars, taken from a human’s perspective, but mounted close to a wheelchair-bound man’s height. It must have seemed to him that he was, for the first time, really there. On the edge of a crater. On top of a mountain. On the plains, looking at the crashed remnants of the spaceship we rode there. On Mars.”
It’s a heartwarming story of inspiration and the legacy left by Bradbury, who passed away this week. “Long before we knew how to do it, Bradbury was taking us there in our minds,” Stroupe says.