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Martian Nightlife

PASADENA, CA - Following last week's near-shutdown of the Galileo space probe after weathering a blast of interstellar radiation, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory were elated yesterday when the Mars Global Surveyor discovered conclusive proof of nightlife on the Red Planet. While Galileo's mission has taken it nearly twice as far from Earth as the Global Surveyor, and its data and images of Jupiter's moon Io have vastly improved scientists' understanding of the tiny satellite, all of its successes pale in comparison to Global Surveyor's cultural revelation.

According to Global Surveyor project manager Glenn Cunningham, yesterday's discovery was a shock to system controllers and mission analysts. "Deep ravines and polar ice caps have long led us to believe that life probably once existed on Mars," he said. "But this is amazing. Even our wildest extrapolations couldn't have predicted something like this."

So far, photographs taken by the orbiting probe have confirmed the existence of three TGI Friday's restaurants, two Applebee's, fourteen discount liquor stores and three funk-smashin', beat-rappin' techno dance clubs, and have revealed the Martian surface to be a virtual wasteland of alien party debris.

"We have yet to actually locate or identify any Martian lifeforms," said Cunningham. "But it's pretty clear at this point that they definitely know how to party, whoever they are."

While scientists eagerly await more data from Global Surveyor, plans are already underway for a second probe to be launched early next year. The new craft, tentatively dubbed Mars Party Surveyor, will attempt to establish communications with our new neighbors in space and will include a payload of beer, whiskey and cigarettes, plus a copy of Lou Bega's hit CD, A Little Bit of Mambo.

"Naturally, this discovery raises a host of questions," mused Cunningham. "What are the Martians like? Are they technologically superior to us? Do they like Guinness? Do they prefer menthol or regular? Are they into swing or salsa? The list is endless."

NASA officials in Washington, D.C. are also encouraged by this discovery, and have redoubled their efforts to accelerate funding for a manned mission to the "party planet."

"This is exactly the kind of breakthrough discovery we've been hoping for," said Dan Goldin, executive administrator of the space agency. "Partying has become somewhat listless here on Earth, so contact with another happenin' species could be just the kick in the ass we've needed."

During a hastily arranged press conference in the White House's Rose Garden, President George W. Bush delivered a brief but stirring speech about the discovery. "It seems somehow appropriate we should make this fantastic discovery just in time for the dawning of the new millenium. For thousands of years mankind has been forced to wonder if he were alone in the cosmos, but that mystery has now been replaced with confirmation.

"Allow me to be the first to extend my friendship to our new Martian neighbors, and the first to invite them to party down and get smashed with us all, Earth-style!"

The president concluded his speech by announcing he will be throwing a kegger next week on the East Lawn and the Martians are welcome to attend.

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