A double header tonight. I’ve been mulling the second post over in my head all day, but I’ve been moved in a very profound fashion by this picture:
Just in case you aren’t aware, it is a panoramic shot taken by the Mars Curiosity rover of its immediate surroundings of the landing site. (click to enhugen)
It’s easy to be blasé about this sort of thing, so please excuse me if I talk to you like a five year old for a moment, because this picture has made me feel five years old again.
This is a photograph taken by a little buggy which we have sent millions of miles to another planet.
Just reflect on that for a moment.
We, who can’t even organise a reliable banking system, have sent a craft to another planet. That in itself is an astounding feat. Add to that the fact that the vehicle has sent us back a photo, in the most stunning definition, of the surface of that planet is more amazing still.
What has reduced me to the level of a grinning five year old, bouncing around saying ‘that is sooo cooooooooooool’ is the fact that the terrain looks so, well, Terran.
At first my reaction was that it looked as if it had been taken out of a car window in Arizona. Then I realised that something else was jumping up and down at the back of my mind, trying to grab my attention.
Doesn’t it look like the surface of Tatooine, the planet in the opening scenes of the original Star Wars movie? Can’t you see C-3PO and R2-D2 bickering their way across the vista?
‘So?’ Some people will say. ‘We’ve gone millions of miles and discovered the deserts of Tunisia.’
To which I say an enthusiastic YES! That’s exactly the point! Look, in cosmic terms this is the equivalent of going and ringing next door’s doorbell, the Moon was stepping out into the porch, but if an alien environment can look so familiar, who knows what else is out there to discover? Even on the surface of Mars, we could find life or the signs of life departed, even if they are only microbes and bacteria. This has the possibility to change and inform our entire view of the universe.
I can think of no greater adventure without shuffling off this mortal coil.
It really is, I run out of superlatives, incredibly cool. I can’t wait to find out what is next.