Yesterday I posted a nice article by Cadell Last, where he gave his thoughts in response to a friend’s suggestion that we humans “don’t deserve Mars”. Some time ago, I promised caio that I would share my opinions on space exploration, and specifically, why I feel that it is worth doing. After reflecting on Cadell’s post, I decided to get my own thoughts down. Like Cadell, my ideas on this are a bit scattered (and probably a bit more romantic), so I am just going to let them flow.
Space is real. Daily circumstances rarely prompt us to consider that the immense expanse that surrounds us is a physical reality that is no less genuine than our own. At this moment, a thin, dusty wind is swirling through a Martian canyon. A bolt of lightning just flashed in the dense atmosphere of Venus. The Voyager probe drifts away into the darkness of interstellar space. Dawn has just come to a lake on a planet within the Andromeda Galaxy.
When we consider space exploration, it is important that we take a moment to allow our mind to adjust to an extra-terrestrial perspective. When we look up at night, what we are looking at seems less real, but only because we have never experienced it. Today we have the ability to do things that were magic only 100 years ago. Some things that we have done with these powers we want to share with children. Some we do not. Our current abilities to explore space far exceed our current endeavor, and space exploration is something that we happily share with children.
What we do as a species matters. When we start a new war, we become a more war-like species. When we exhaust a resource, we become a less sustainable species. Our nature as a species creates our destinies as individuals. What we do, and what we wish to do as individuals, is defined by the nature of our current circumstances. Space exploration makes us a more inquisitive and more adventurous species. As a result, it brings a reality of wonder and discovery to each of us. Our accomplishments extend what is thought possible, and our new knowledge extends our perspective.
We each care about what we do in our time. We care about what we have accomplished, and what we will leave to others. Space exploration brings accomplishment for us all, and leaves knowledge to all that follow after.
Our nature as a species is a reflection of what we do. When we explore the space around us, we choose to better understand our reality, our situation, and ourselves. When we ignore space, we choose instead what we already know. As a species, we explore space as a child. The universe around us is really there, and our choice really matters.