Last night I watched the first episode of Cosmos. Having read the book while in high school, I was excited to watch the video of Cosmos, especially as I’ve heard a ton of good things about it. Plus, space absolutely fascinates me. While deciding on possible college majors while in high school, Astrophysics/Astronomy kept bouncing around in my head. Ever since I can remember, I loved staring up into the night sky and watching the stars and imagining the possibilities of all that vast space. During my first drive down to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I remember pulling over during the night somewhere in Virginia and just staring up at the night sky, having never seen it that clearly from the light-polluted sky of Boston.
Anyway, after balancing out the difficulties of learning about Astrophysics/Astronomy, combined with my false assumption that I’d be stuck in a desert somewhere with a small team staring out at the night sky, I decided to major in something a bit more practical but that I still enjoyed (Business, though looking back, I should’ve double-majored in Economics and Computer Science). But I still remained fascinated by space and spent many hours reading books and admiring high-resolution shots from the various telescopes and and other devices we send out in space.
Mars, baby, Mars
While watching Cosmos, which takes us on a journey through the known universe, from its very edge, back through to our galaxy, our solar system, and finally our planet, it struck me how little we’ve travelled in the past 40 years since the first moon landing. To many, it seems like we went to the moon and then flatlined in terms of space exploration progress.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know we’ve made tons of advances in this area over the past 40 years, but in the grand scheme of the universe, it’s really difficult to think we’ve made it very far. Currently, we have capabilities to go to Mars. There are an immense amount of variables, for instance we don’t know the effect of such a voyage on the human body, or even if we could survive outside the zone around the Earth.
Ensuring that any astronauts who make the trip have enough air, food, and water to get to Mars and back is not a simple hurdle. The logistics of such an adventure are overwhelming to any one person. But, today we have all the capabilities to plan out and solve these logistics. We may fail, massively, but not trying is an even bigger failure.
Such a mission would likely require global collaboration, as the costs, time, energy, and man-power required to run the trip are likely too high a burden for any one country to take on. But imagine if it happens. It would spark a new era of humanity, one where we work together to achieve an awe-inspiring goal, the first human on Mars.
Goosebumps ran up and down my arms just thinking about it.
The technological and logistical progress we’d make by going on such a trip would alone be worth the cost. The really big hurdle to cross is the danger to the human astronauts who make the trip. This danger is not to be taken lightly, but neither should it be seen as an impossible impediment. I can’t speak for any potential astronauts who’d make the trip, but going off my gut feeling, if I had gone along a career path that would make me a viable candidate for a trip to Mars, I would be more than willing to put my life on the line. I’m sure there’s a talented crew who’d say the same, the value and progress of going to Mars would outweigh the real possibility of not coming back.
What about you? If you were an astronaut (or are one), would you be willing to risk it all to go to Mars?
The first episode of the space series Cosmos, narrated by the Carl Sagan. Absolutely fascinating and a must-watch.
Thanks to the Hubble telescope for the awe-inspiring photo of Mars.