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Today, the wiki is in read-only mode to allow for a hosting migration.  Please enjoy reading all our xkcd explanations.
 
We have an explanation for all [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-13}}''' xkcd comics]],
 
We have an explanation for all [[:Category:Comics|'''{{#expr:{{PAGESINCAT:Comics|R}}-13}}''' xkcd comics]],
 
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Revision as of 13:12, 29 October 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki! Today, the wiki is in read-only mode to allow for a hosting migration. Please enjoy reading all our xkcd explanations. We have an explanation for all 1505 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Opportunity
We all remember those famous first words spoken by an astronaut on the surface of Mars: "That's one small step fo- HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT IT'S GOT SOME KIND OF DRILL! Get back to the ... [unintelligible] ... [signal lost]"
Title text: We all remember those famous first words spoken by an astronaut on the surface of Mars: "That's one small step fo- HOLY SHIT LOOK OUT IT'S GOT SOME KIND OF DRILL! Get back to the ... [unintelligible] ... [signal lost]"

Explanation

This comic is talking about the robotic science platform Opportunity. On January 25, 2004, the Opportunity rover landed on the surface of Mars for the purpose of gathering data about the surface of Mars.

Also sent to Mars on the same date was another Martian rover, Spirit. Unfortunately, this became stuck and a sand storm covered its solar panels. On March 22, 2010, it was thought that Spirit's batteries finally ran out, marking the end of its mission. This was memorably covered in 695: Spirit, in which the Spirit rover is portrayed as sentient.

As of the release date of this comic in 2015, the Opportunity rover is still alive and moving. The comic depicts the scientists at ground control being amazed at this.

However, in 2023, Opportunity has apparently become so powerful that it has become dangerous, presumably cannibalizing or destroying the rover sent in 2020. Cueball and Megan note it even continues to operate without its original battery, suggesting it has developed a new power source. This evolution is similar to the stories of HAL 9000 (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and V'Ger (from Star Trek: The Motion Picture), both of which became sentient and dangerous.

By 2450, humans have supposedly colonized and terraformed Mars. “Everything the light touches” is a reference to what Mufasa says in The Lion King. (Mufasa's son Simba then asks "What about that shadowy place?" and Mufasa tells him “That is beyond our borders. You must never go there”.) What this all implies is the Opportunity has dominated half of the planet — and clearly has devised a new power source for itself, given that its power originally came from solar panels, which obviously do not function in the darkness.

The title text refers to the first words of the first astronauts on the surface of Mars. At first, the astronaut copies the first words of Neil Armstrong on the Moon ("That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind") but it is interrupted by the Opportunity rover. Onboard the rover uses a drill for sampling rocks, but here it is heavily suggested that it uses the drill to attack the astronaut.

Transcript

2010:
[Ponytail and Hair Bun sitting at a computer, facing left.]
Ponytail: After six years, Spirit is down, but Opportunity is still going strong.
Hair Bun: Tough little rover!
2015:
[Opportunity traveling on Mars.]
Offscreen: Eleven years, wow.
Offscreen 2: Wasn't the original mission 90 days?
Offscreen: This is starting to get weird.
2023:
[Cueball and Megan sitting at a computer, facing right.]
Cueball: The battery is totally disconnected. How can it still be moving??
Megan: Given what it did to the Mars 2020 rover, we may never know.
2450, terraformed Mars, martian imperial capital:
[Some martian inhabits looking like Cueball and Megan pointing towards a dark, mountainous region]
Cueball-Martian: Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Megan-Martian: What's that dark area?
Cueball-Martian: That is Opportunity's half of the planet. We must never go there.

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