I am intrigued and hopeful after reading this. After years of childhood movies about men from Mars and a fascination with science fiction that began in my twenties, I may just live long enough to see humans reach that planet. Unlike some, I didn't see the moon missions as anything more breakthrough-ish than Sir Edmund Hillary's climbing to the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953. It was a feat, for sure, and an important one, but it didn't have the magic of real space travel. The moon is just a hunk of rock trapped by Earth's gravity. It is not especially far away in relation to planets. And we knew it did not hold life.
When I was young, people still spoke of the "canals" of Mars and life there was thought possible. Heck, some still hold out hope that one of the rovers will find evidence of past life if not current life. Maybe microbes... if we can't have alien creatures wandering about the vast deserts of that planet. The more we learned, as technology advanced, the more we have come to realize just how inhospitable Mars is to life today. Disappointing me and so many others who grew up wondering if Martians might one day drop in for a visit.
Yes, Mars is an inhospitable place and seemingly quite barren of life and water. The "canals" turned out to be an illusion, instead of forests of red trees... rocks and sand. Yet... it is still a planet, and has an atmosphere (a thin one, to be sure, and insufficient to support humans) and we have the technology to build a colony of sorts there. Sure, we have the technology to allow us to do much the same on the moon but why? We have come to realize it is simply a chunk of good old Mother Earth that was blasted away by some big old planetoid that slammed into us a few billion years ago. So what is there that isn't already here?
Maybe we will find that Mars, too, is not so different from Earth. Maybe we will find that the debris of the solar system of which Earth is made is is pretty much all that Mars is also. And we'll be disappointed. Because, after Mars, there are just gas giants without much hope of life or even solid ground on which to wander about. Until we are capable of interstellar travel.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago