Curiosity is the name of the Mars Rover which touched down on the surface of the red planet early on Monday morning.  I’ve known this for a while, and I suspect that most of you science-fiction fans will have known too (unless you’ve been on another planet, and even then you might have noticed if the planet in question was Mars).

What I didn’t realise until today was how cute it is.  Like a cross between WALL-E and Number Five from Short Circuit, only slighly more macho.

I also didn’t realise that the mission is no puny little 30-day thing.  No, they’re funded for two years (Earth years, that is), but the batteries could last for ten or more.  Will it still be operational when we eventually land people on Mars?

I see a story developing in which we land people on Mars, and they have some problem with their technology and need spare parts.  Curiosity has the parts they need, but it’s not responding to their attempts at remote control – the radio receiver is broken so it’s just trundling about sampling rocks and sending the data to Earth, but can’t be controlled.  The astronauts have to go on a desperate hunt through the Martian landscape to capture the rover before it’s too late!