I had to be at the Goldstone Deep Space Network complex by 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so I got up at 3:30. It felt god-awful to be getting up when some significant portion of L.A. was just drunkenly stumbling into bed. On the freeway, I noticed considerably more cars at 5 a.m. compared to 4 a.m. The only consolation was seeing a ponderous yellow harvest moon setting in the west over the Mojave Desert as the sun rose in the east. By the time I arrived at the 70-meter-wide Mars antenna site, the edges of the antenna were beginning to bask in that golden California light. This visit, I actually climbed up to the apex of the giant antenna. It wasn’t for the faint of heart — the metal that makes up the dish is actually perforated with tiny holes and you can see the ground beneath your feet, some 100 feet below. I also crawled to the edge of the antenna, peered over and quickly crawled back. A stiff breeze blew as birds perched on the antenna and chirped. I could almost make out the strains of Peer Gynt playing on a perfect desert morning.