Beagle 2 boffin Colin Pillinger has made his latest Mars launch – an exhibition of cartoons.
The mutton-chopped professor has spent years collecting funnies about his favourite red planet alongside his serious research.
Now for the first time 120 of his favourite jokes are on display at a new cartoon museum in London. The exhibition was opened by Culture Minister David Lammy on Thursday.
Many are jokes at aimed at Pillinger – the space scientist’s £45 million Beagle probe crashed when it reached Mars in December 2003.
But Professor Pillinger – pictured with me above – often uses cartoons in his talks and finds them a great way to communicate science with the public.
The professor, of the Open University at Milton Keynes, said: “Mars in their Eyes sets out to show that scientists are human too and enjoy a laugh as much as anybody, even if it is at their own expense.”
Each of the cartoons at the London exhibition is accompanied by a snippet of information about the science behind it.
TV astronomer Patrick Moore says in the catalogue: “The red planet has always held a special fascination for us. Science-fiction writers and illustrators have made great use of Mars.
“But this is the first time that cartoons involving Mars have been brought together, and the result is of exceptional interest.
“Some of the cartoons are purely fanciful. Others are genuinely instructive.”
The exhibition, funded by a government grant, will run at The Cartoon Museum at 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1, until July 1.
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