The spindle-legged creature flew over the bleak forbidding landscape, examining the terrain very carefully. The ground was covered with treacherous pits and dangerous looking rocks, was not what had been expected. Great care was needed before it could select a place to land.
Slowly, and very cautiously, the creature lowered itself onto the rock and dust covered plain, following which it emitted a high-pitched squeak of success. It was 4:13 local time.
The air was alien and very cold, but the creature was well adapted to these conditions and quickly set about its predestined tasks.
First it used is multipurpose optical sensors to picture the area nearby, and, when satisfied that there was no danger, it began to "feed".
A tubelike arm extended itself from the creature's main body. A scoop at one end scratched up a sample of the dust and deposited the material into its oral apparatus. Within the creature's "body", fluids were mixed with the dust and digestion began.
Not long afterward, the creature "burped" sadly, its long journey of expectation ending in disappointment. The dust it had just analyzed contained no nourishing organic of living material. The creature' search had been, at least in this respect, a failure.
Once more it sent out a signal. On a different planet, 164 million miles away, at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Center in Pasadena, the billion-dollar, eight-year search for life on the planet Mars came to a sad end.