CRAWFORD BLOG: Mars rover exploring the new (sports) frontier - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD BLOG: Mars rover exploring the new (sports) frontier

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- At first glance, you might not think the ability of NASA to land a souped-up Smart Car on Mars would have anything to do with sports.

You're wrong. While engineers were hugging each other and reporters were gushing on camera in the wee hours of Monday morning after the rover Curiosity landed safely on Mars and started sending back data, I happened to be focused on those first dispatches.

And I'm pretty sure beneath the din of revelry I heard something about Curiosity spotting a 6-10 big man who was "raw, but with huge upside and great shot-blocking ability." That's probably owing to his having four arms. Later this morning, once the initial celebrations had died down, Curiosity sent back that he lists Kentucky as his leader, which is no surprise given his longtime family friendship with William Wesley. Turns out, Wes is more than world-wide.

Seriously, though, having a rover of this size on another planet is a game-changer for sports.

The Big East is already looking to expand there.

There have been other rovers on the red planet. But never before have we had one that could test the atmosphere's suitability for restrictor-plate racing.

It's going to force us to step up our game here on Earth.

I don't know if he's the first, but I'm crediting Penn State journalist Ben Jones with the first use of the "We can land a rover on Mars, but . . . " trope.

Via Twitter, Jones said Monday morning, "We're getting live images from Mars but NBC can't set up a live stream of a 100-meter race without buffering."

I wish Jones hadn't Tweeted that. He's ruined it for anyone watching on NBC. They were going to show it tonight in prime time.

You might not be aware of the contributions space travel has made to sports over the years, but you should be. Shock-absorbing technology used in shoes for space walkers has gone directly into modern athletic shoes. Materials of all kinds developed for use in space have been repurposed for sports use -- composite material for helmets and tennis rackets, scratch-resistant coatings for goggles and helmet shields. Space-developed technology has been used on golf-ball design and golf club construction, as well as John Daly's pants.

You can thank space travel for video stabilization and, though I can't really prove it, for the yellow first-down line technology in football.

Space-travel technology also has provided advances in the medical field, paving the way for various types of scans and the development of prosthetic limbs of increasing sophistication.

Who knows what discoveries from Curiosity might be appropriated for the world of sports. Maybe we'll see a concussion-proof football helmet, running shoes that don't blow out after a few months or at least a better replay system for football. At the very least, maybe we'll get some insight into what exactly is going on in Lou Holtz's mind.

Now that Curiosity has stuck the landing, anything seems possible.

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