Ray Bradbury explored Mars, and the future of humanity, through words and ideas--vehicles of the imagination. He was a visionary author and, through his writings and lectures, was a direct or indirect mentor to so many of us involved with designing, building, and operating the actual space vehicles of today. I think it is so fitting, then, that the MSL team has memorialized Ray's contributions to the exploration of the planets--and especially Mars--by naming Curiosity's landing site in his honor.
As a member of our Advisory Council, Ray was also a good friend of The Planetary Society, especially helping the Society establish its early roots in advocacy and public engagement. His "Martian Chronicles" is actually on Mars now, on a special DVD sent to the planet in 2008 as part of the Society's contribution to the Phoenix lander mission. I look forward to the day when people can visit Bradbury Landing in Gale crater themselves, relive the dramatic Sky Crane landing events of a few weeks ago (the retrorocket scour marks should still be there!), and reflect together on Ray Bradbury's profound influence on this grand enterprise of exploring our neighboring worlds.
NASA / JPL / Damia Bouic
Scour marks and wheel tracks mark the spot where Curiosity first touched down on Mars on August 5, 2012. The site has now been named Bradbury Landing in honor of the writer and futurist Ray Bradbury.