NASA To Launch Mars Probe 'MAVEN' – Will Be Carrying Haiku Poetry [POEMS]

MAVEN, artist rendition

On Monday, November 18, the launch window for NASA’s latest space probe mission will open and — weather permitting — an Atlas V rocket will lift off from Kennedy Space Center carrying MAVEN: Mars Atmospheric and Volatile Evolution Mission (Ok, so it’s not a perfect acronym), which will collect Martian atmospheric data and perform other scientific experiments in the hopes of determining what happened to Mars’ atmosphere — and possibly even the water that once flowed on its now dusty, reddish surface.

Here’s the launch viewing info:

(Monday, Nov. 18, 2013) NASA TV coverage of the launch will begin at 11 a.m. EST and conclude after the MAVEN spacecraft has separated from the Atlas V, which occurs about 52 minutes after launch. Live launch coverage will be carried on all NASA Television channels. You can watch a streaming video of the launch from NASA’s television channel.

But there’s a few unusual features to MAVEN: it will be carrying a DVD containing artwork (see the winning MAVEN artwork) and some 1500+ poems — specifically haiku poems (in English), submitted by thousands of Earthlings in response to the MAVEN campaign team’s Going to Mars call for art and haiku (announced this past Spring). The call for art and poems was part of the space program’s wider efforts to garner public support for space science missions by encouraging public participation (however peripherally), similar to “citizen scientist” projects designed to stimulate interest (and actual discovery) in scientific work, like those found on

Top haiku poems (which must follow the traditional form of 3 lines with exactly 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables, in line order) were determined by public vote (see selected poems, below) but any haiku receiving at least 2 votes was included on the DVD (see photo inserts; dvd shown on upper right edge of probe).

MAVEN, Mars space probeHowever, it is not clear if the MAVEN probe actually has a DVD player such that the poems might actually be read or heard (By whom? Well, it’s mostly a symbolic gesture, after all). And, MAVEN will not actually land on the red planet’s surface, but will survey the Martian atmosphere (as the name indicates) from an orbital range of 150 km (93 miles, at its closest approach) to 6,000 km (3,728 miles, at its highest approach).

In any event, it is the fun and culturally uplifting spirit of the idea that counts…

MAVEN. dvd with haiku poems The MAVEN probe mission is being coordinated and managed by the UC Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (Principal Investigator, Dr. Bruce Jakosky, University of Colorado). For lots more multimedia and fact sheets about MAVEN, visit the University of Colorado at Boulder’s official MAVEN mission site.

So then, on with the poetry reading…the following is a listing of the top haiku poems (as determined by public voting) and selected haiku poems in several categories (including ‘humor’), and, following this, one last haiku poem (by this writer) inspired by the reading of all 1500+ haiku poems…enjoy!

The Top Five Haiku Poems (receiving 1000+ votes):

It’s funny, they named
Mars after the God of War
Have a look at Earth

(Benedict Smith
United Kingdom)

Thirty-six million
miles of whispering welcome.
Mars, you called us home.

(Vanna Bonta

Stars in the blue sky
cheerfully observe the Earth
while we long for them

(Luisa Santoro

distant red planet
the dreams of earth beings flow
we will someday roam

(Greg Pruett
Idaho, USA)

Mars, your secret is
unknown for humanity
we want to know you.

(Fanni Redenczki

Special recognition

The following poems are MAVEN team selections.


I am the petrel
Exploring ancient shorelines,
Of long-dry oceans.

(Earl Frederick
Virginia, USA)

MAVEN tastes the air
too thin to hold oceans’ broth
wafted on Sol’s winds.

(James Ph. Kotsybar
California, USA)

My body can’t walk
My mouth can’t make words but I
Soar to Mars today.

(Allison Swets
Michigan, USA)

Haiku for Mars

Your crimson bosom,
Valles Marineris depths.
Will we find your tears?

(William Houston
North Carolina, USA)

Rusted, dusty, fruit.
Pitted, marred, mysterious.
Milky Way’s Apple

(Maria Masington
Delaware, USA)

Reflections on Earth

Mars, copper penny
Dropped in the dark bank of night
Saved for Earth’s future

(J. David Liss
New Jersey, USA)

Amidst sand and stars
We scan a lifeless planet
To escape its fate


Haiku about haiku

Maven’s engineers
write in binary while we
count some syllables.

(Craig Houghton
Connecticut, USA)

The migrant Rover
Unfolds a slip of haiku
And dabs its lens cap

(Helen Jeffery
Maryland, USA)


Mars, oh! Do forgive.
We never meant to obstruct
Your view of Venus.

(Chuck Abolt
Texas, USA)

a persistent wind
keeps taking your breath away…
but look at those cheeks!

(Edward Foreman
Illinois, USA)

Writing poems, Mars,
I’m a little bit rusty
But then so are you

(Clay Graham
California, USA)

…and lastly, this writer’s MARS / MAVEN Mission-inspired haiku:

When we are Martians

We’ll send a mission to Earth

Maybe still find Life

Additional information on MAVEN can also be found at, or, download the MAVEN PDF fact sheet.

Top Image: The MAVEN spacecraft will gather data on the planet’s current-day atmospheric loss. The artist’s rendition of Mars at the top of the image shows the disappearance of the planet’s magnetic field, which may have triggered the atmospheric loss. (Courtesy GSFC); webpage source

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