We got all gee-whiz for a minute today about the landing of the NASA InSight, aka the latest vehicle in Earth’s Attack on Mars, which was gonna auger into the Martian atmosphere (such as it is) at something like 1,300 Miles Per Hour, and then blow off the heat shield, crap out a space-parachute, explode some rockets, and drop landing gear while it slowed down to 5 mph so it could then precisely and rocket-scientifically plop down on the surface of Mars to begin what NASA claims is a mission to take the Martian temperature, yeah, sure it is.
But the computer graphic simulations accompanying the mission coverage are way beyond Uncanny Valley. They look too real! How are we supposed to get excited about Probing the Unknown when the NASA artists already feel photorealistically comfortable with the idea they know exactly what it all looks like? We know there’s not really an escort vehicle with a camera getting InSight’s good angles as it plunges through the atmosphere, but why should we get caught up at all in suspending or de-suspending our disbelief? This is why they think there wasn’t a Moon landing!
Whatever happened to those cool-but-painterly-looking Artist’s Renderings? Or cruddy schematic vector graphics? Keep some distance between our imaginations and the actual planet, so we can properly appreciate the blotchy approximation of Martian reality that InSight sent back. In our capacity as Simulation Critics we offer the first Hmm Daily Space Mission Simulation; InSight Lands on Mars and Deploys Probe (artist’s rendering).