Why not go on to Mars?
|Why are we not going to Mars?
With Mars approaching Earth the closest it ever has, or at least in tens of centuries, we here may look at it and ah in awe at the wondrous site, until that symbol of alien life-forms, representative of the god of war, and that dream of intelligently build canals streaks away from us again.
We should have had astronauts standing on Mars waiting to take photos of Earth as we achieve a closest point of approach for yet tens of centuries in the future. Yet, we don’t. What happened to the enthusiasm of the 60s, when we determinedly placed humans on the Moon? What happened to that pride of accomplishment we all felt on that summer’s night in 1969 when that first step for mankind placed a footprint on the dusty surface of the Moon? It will forever remain a small step until we decide to allow it to be a giant leap into the future of space exploration. When we explore space, we explore ourselves, our spirits, and discover exactly who we are and what we can accomplish.
Well, we lost the leadership of a President who did the pushing into new frontiers; we subsequently got stuck in a war far from home that drained whatever enthusiasm we had for science, and we sunk our dollars into killing machines rather than exploring machines. In the process, we lost sight of our goals, and forgot our achievements.
We, as a nation, as a member of the international scientific community, a leader, no less, in that community, lost track of what our needs were. Mankind needs, yes, needs, to explore the unknown. Forget all the knowledge about the universe we inhabit, and forget about all the technological developments that have come from exploration from earliest times to the present. Those are important, yes, but our spirits need to soar into the unknown, whether it be the heavens or the deepness of the oceans. We are designed and built with itchy feet. Ever since Adam and Eve left the garden, mankind has explored and discovered and innovated to get to places never before visited. We are hard-wired to the unknown, and though we may never reach all the unexplored areas of our universe, we will certainly try, and die trying.
Our nation has to remember that enthusiasm for scientific exploration, for adventure, and for discovery of strange and dangerous places. It is up to us to tell, no, to demand from our leaders a renewal of that “New Frontier” spirit that drove us from the first days of our exploration of the wilderness areas of North America, to the walks on the Moon. We need to get past the half-hearted attempts we make, apparently to give token lip service to science. Let’s go all out and strive for Mars, and then beyond. Let’s let our spirits free to roam the universe again.