On a Beach Walk: #63 (Mars)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Good morning. The day is bright. The sky is clear and blue. The only clouds I see are on the distant horizon. Not many hours ago, stars filled the dark sky. Ancient civilizations thought of stars as twinkles attached to a dome that vanished by day, but today we know they are present behind the sky’s blue veil.

Probably everyone has wondered if life is elsewhere in the seemingly vast, endless void we call space. After all, our sun isn’t the only sun in the universe. Earth is located in the sweet spot of our solar system – but with many other suns, other sweet spots exist for life as we know it.

On the other hand, we humans are self-absorbed with ourselves thinking we are the center of everything. Let us not forget that at one time we said the Earth was the center of the universe with everything revolving around us and our planetary home. That was the prevailing thought of the time until new knowledge changed that view – although acceptance took time. Yet, some still embrace this notion.

Yes – today I want to think outside of Earth’s atmosphere. As my feet travel on this soft sandy, I wonder about the surfaces on other planets. Whether looking beyond the wild blue yonder or wondering as we watch the twinkling in the night sky – we wonder.

Although the song is not about this topic, the Moody Blues’ lyrics, “I know you’re out there somewhere” makes me wonder about life elsewhere. Does it exist? If so, is there any commonality with life on Earth? Then again, we could be the only life in the universe, and wondering about space is a gift for being human.

Life as we know it needs food, water, shelter, and something to breathe. Our needs are based on carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and phosphorous, which are the key substances (but not the only) that compose not only us, but all life forms.

I think about these needs in terms of space travel to a neighboring planet. Venus had water at one time but no longer does. Besides, it’s too hot. Mars is another neighboring planet – and those beyond it are too cold.

Mars – the red planet – a visible star with a reddish tint. Mars – 250 millions miles away – an eight-month journey. The technology to get there exists, and is being further developed. Technology for recycling materials during the journey and on the planet exists.

Technology to use the frozen carbon dioxide of Mars exists – as is protection from the solar radiation. But I wonder: Can the human body endure the journey? Can the human body endure that planet?

Some say the human trip to Mars is inevitable – even by 2040. Others say it’s a dream. Yet, we cannot forget these three important factors: 1) Earth is our most suitable home; 2) Colonizing Mars will not save us from ourselves here; and  3) Exploration is in human DNA.

From our migratory ancestors to early explorers; from the Vikings to European explorers as da Gama, Magellan, Hudson, and others of their time – from visiting the North Pole and the South Pole to climbing Mt. Everest – from diving deep into the sea to landing on the Moon – Yes, humanity wants to explore because humanity wants to know.

While we dream of Earth serving as the home base for that futuristic trip into the sky I see above, let us not forget that we also have the opportunity to appreciate what we have and take care of it.

On this day as I walk the beach, I dream – even fantasize about a possible future. Thinking about Space – the final frontier – “To go where no man has gone before.”

Earth is my home – actually our home. Earth is where we find the flat plains of grain, the rolling hills of green, and the tall mountains with majestic peaks. However, my feet are moving on the fine sand of this coastal community. After all, I like walking the beach for it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.