Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Curiosity is a Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange Land

Phobos Crescent as seen by Curiosity
Phobos Crescent - JPL 
Curiosity left Earth's atmosphere on November 26th, 2011 traveling toward her new home, Mars.  Much like Valentine Michael Smith she has become a stranger in a strange land.  With the foreign landscape before Curiosity, approximately one third of Earth's gravity, and an extremely thin atmosphere, I expect the sight of a thin crescent in the sky would be a faint reminder of home.

Curiosity cannot suffer any of the organic issues we as humans may, when we visit our planet's smaller, red sister.  Curiosity won't get homesick, or miss relatives.  She won't yearn for the fall sun setting over a valley painted red and yellow by autumn.  Curiosity will not miss the fish swimming in streams or the cool mountain air.  And although I have anthropomorphised Curiosity by referring to it as "her", I have done this consciously as sailors would refer to their ships.  Sailors would speak kindly and gently to their ships and they hoped that their vessel would return the favor.

We are all sailors riding through the fabric of time and space.  On this ship you choose the level of your participation.  You can choose to ignore the greatness of what we have accomplished and will continue to accomplish.  You can choose to complain about the expenses involved in space exploration and travel, remaining ignorant you use technology directly derived from the space program on a daily basis. Or, and this is a big or, you may be one of the few who have the opportunity to enter space, you may be even one of the very, very, few who will set foot upon another extra terrestrial body within the next decade.  Or like myself you may only visit these places through your internet connection and your mind, and maybe a telescope, but this is a journey we can all take together.