Sunday 22 September 2019

Mick Jagger satisfied as Nasa names rolling stone on Mars after rock heroes

The US space agency ‘s InSight lander captured a stone as it rolled across the surface of the red planet.

The Rolling Stones in Pasadena (AP)
The Rolling Stones in Pasadena (AP)

By Andrew Dalton

It may be a lot less than 2,000 light years from home, but there is now a “Rolling Stones Rock” on Mars.

The US space agency Nasa named the little stone after the veteran rockers after its InSight robotic lander captured the object rolling across the surface of the red planet.

Actor Robert Downey Jr took to the stage just before the Stones at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on Thursday night to make the rock’s new name public.

The stadium is just a stone’s throw from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages InSight.

Sir Mick Jagger took a moment between songs to tell the crowd that “Nasa has given us something we have always dreamed of, our very own rock on Mars. I can’t believe it”.

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Actor Robert Downey Jr. addresses the crowd to make the Nasa announcement (AP)

The singer added: “I want to bring it back on put it on our mantelpiece.”

Earlier, Iron Man star Downey Jr said: “Cross-pollinating science and a legendary rock band is always a good thing.”

He told the crowd that Nasa scientists had come up with the name “in a fit of fandom and clever association”.

Downey Jr added: “Charlie, Ronnie, Keith and Mick – they were in no way opposed to the notion, but in typical egalitarian fashion, they suggested I assist in procuring 60,000 votes to make it official, so that’s my mission.”

He led the audience in a shout of “aye” in the mock vote, before declaring the deed done.

Sir Mick later said: “I want to say a special thanks to our favourite action man Robert Downey Jr. That was a very nice intro he gave.”

The Mars rock, just a little bigger than a golf ball, was moved by InSight’s own thrusters as the robotic lander touched down on the red planet on November 26.

It only moved about 3ft, but that is the furthest Nasa has seen a rock roll while landing a craft on another planet.

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The logos for The Rolling Stones and Nasa are displayed side-by-side on video monitors onstage before the Rolling Stones’ concert at the Rose Bowl (AP)

Matt Golombek, a JPL geologist who has helped NASA land all its Mars missions since 1997, said: “I’ve seen a lot of Mars rocks over my career. This one probably won’t be in a lot of scientific papers, but it’s definitely one of the coolest.”

The Rolling Stones and Nasa logos were shown side by side in the run-up to the show as the sun set over the Rose Bowl, leaving many fans perplexed as to what the connection was before it was announced.

The concert had originally been scheduled for spring, before the Stones postponed their No Filter North American tour while Sir Mick underwent heart surgery.

The 76-year-old showed no signs of poor health or even his age as he danced up and down a long catwalk that extended to the middle of the stadium’s field.

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Sir Mick performs on stage (AP)

He did poke fun at his advanced years.

“It’s great to be back at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena,” Sir Mick said. “At least, I think we’ve been here before.”

The band have played at the venue previously, in 1994.

He also said: “We walked up and down Hollywood Boulevard looking for the Rolling Stones star, but couldn’t find it.”

Sir Mick also took a dig at US president Donald Trump’s recent talk of acquiring Greenland when introducing his bandmates.

“On the drums,” the singer shouted, “Greenland’s new economic adviser – Charlie Watts!”

PA Media

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