Curiosity’s mission to Mars marked a major scientific and technological leap forward for humanity – while back on Earth, Olympic athletes push the physical limits of the human body.
When it comes down to spend – which cost more to achieve?
When London put in the bid to host the Olympic Games, the total projected cost of the event was set at a hefty $5-billion price-tag – but after planning and construction kicked off, that total grew significantly, hitting a three-fold level of $15-billion, according to Forbes.
Included in this figure is about $125 million for the opening and closing ceremonies which were planned and directed by Slumdog Millionaire director, Danny Boyle.
London also enjoyed a big infrastructure overhaul for the games which also added to the billion-dollar total.
More significantly, the London Olympic Park was built in a 500-acre industrial site, and features a newly built stadium, aquatic center, and kilometers of running and cycling paths – as well as a 40-story observation tower – all of which will have long-term use after the 17-day event is over.
In return, the London Olympics are expected to recoup costs during the event, and boost earnings further as the Paralympics kick off after the Summer Olympics draw to a close.
Feeding your Curiosity
When it comes down to sending an unmanned exploration craft to Mars, however, NASA only spent a relatively meagre $2.5-billion getting Curiosity there. The Curiosity rover is a car-sized Mars rover (the largest one to-date) currently exploring the Gale Crater on Mars.
According to a New York Times report, Curiosity also over-stepped its budget by quite a margin, having initially been projected to cost $1.6-billion to get to Mars.
However, after the project missed its deadline and was delayed until Mars and Earth were perfectly positioned again, the project’s budget ballooned to $2.5-billion.
Curiosity is a mobile space station – and the largest lander NASA has ever put on Mars – which is packed with a lot of advanced technology. It’s nuclear-powered and weighs just under a tonne, at 900kgs.
The rover is packed with heat-rejection systems, cameras, computer systems as well as transmission and communications equipment to broadcast footage of its mission back to Earth.
The transmission delay from Curiosity back to Earth – which is a distance of 566 million kilometers – amounted to 14 minutes.
Ironically, the CBS-implemented tape-delay to the Men’s 100m sprint was set at around 6 hours, covering a distance of just under 6,000 kilometers between the US and London where the event was held.
Social networking platform, Twitter was subsequently hit with comments highlighting the irony: “You can’t transmit the Olympics live, but NASA can transmit a feed from Mars with only a 14 minute delay? NBC you have been owned,” tweeted user, @kgazaway.