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In this comic, Randall has made a scatter plot displaying 6 different Mars rovers on a cuteness versus capabilities chart. Only three items are shown in the main plot, as two of the four rovers are near identical to other rovers sent to Mars. And the last rover is displayed off the cuteness chart.
He finds the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers to be very capable / useful, but not very cute. Spirit and Opportunity are cuter than the first two, but less capable.
The recently launched Perseverance rover contains a drone helicopter, Ingenuity, which Randall finds very cute, but he is unsure how capable / useful it is. The way the error-range is indicated 'coincidentally' gives the Ingenuity image-plot a sense of movement in mid-air, especially the up and down motion which is the helicopter's (hopefully) most obvious dynamic once it is deployed and being tested. It could be discussed if a flying drone could be considered a Mars Rover, since a rover is usually something that drives over a surface.
Finally, on the very right far off the cuteness chart, well outside the end of the X-axis, is the Sojourner rover, launched in 1997. He considers this rover extremely cute, but ultimately not that capable in terms of space exploration. To indicate the extreme cuteness of Sojourner, which has been mentioned before in 1585: Similarities, he has drawn it far outside the axis of the plot to indicate it falls off the chart.
This is similar to the mention of coconuts in the similar scatter plot ranking of fruit in 388: Fuck Grapefruit. Here the tastiness of fruits is compared to the ease at which you can eat them, and Grapefruit is not tasty and hard to eat according to Randall hence the title. Coconuts are mentioned in the title text, where it is explained that fitting it in the plot would press all the other fruits together on the ease to eat axis, as coconuts are so extremely hard to open. So it is not exactly as in this comic, where the chart could have included Sojourner, but the same point is made, that this item is far off the chart.
In the title text, Randall is disappointed that there aren't many people who have modified their Roomba vacuums to look like (or act like?) the Soujourner rover. Roombas are a recuring theme on xkcd. Search results at the time of posting are mainly reports mentioning the iRobot company, since one of its founders worked on the Soujourner rover.
The end of the title text, "be the change" is a truncated form of the expression "be the change you want to see in the world"; basically, if there's something you want to see happen, be the one who makes it happen. This implies that Randall will be modifying his Roomba to look/act like Soujouner.
- [A scatter plot is shown with two labeled axis, each with 5 ticks and ending in an arrow. Two types of Mars rovers are drawn in the top left part, at the top tick and the next highest tick. Each rover type has a label with two names. A third smaller drone is drawn in the lower right part close to the third tick on the Y-axis, with a single name label. It has two arrows pointing up and down to question marks, and two small lines of either side of the rotor blades, indicate movement. Far to the right, about twice the length of the drawn X-axis from the origo of the chart, and at the height of the lowest tick on the Y-axis, is a third type of rover, also with a single name label. The entire chart also has a label:]
- Mars Rovers
- Y-Axis: Capabilities
- X-Axis: Cuteness
- Curiosity & Perseverance
- Spirit & Opportunity
Don't be a jerk.
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