For several decades now some of our best minds have spent billions of dollars to determine if Mars was capable, in the distant past, of sustaining life. Was there water, a source of energy and carbon; was Mars, at one time, hospitable to life as we know it on earth?
As I consider this several issues come to mind. First, with all the problems we have on our own planet, such as disease, starvation and environmental degradation, might all that time, ingenuity and money be better spent on our own celestial plane? Earlier in our history the cold war era "race for space" helped stoke patriotism as we competed with the Soviets for the bragging rights of global alpha dog. Those pioneers of space helped develop the network of lightening fast and far reaching satellite communication technology that we enjoy and take for granted today. Although I do recall at the time that some felt that a bit of the romance of the moon had been diminished by the knowledge that we had traveled, walked and hit golf balls there, the initial manned moon landings left those of us who are old enough to remember them with a sense of awe and helped further our understanding of the origins of our own planet. Within the context of their time I understand the reasons for the space exploration of that day. What I do not understand, in the present day, is what useful information can be gleaned from spending an investment of time and intellectual and financial treasure sending a robotic device to a tiny red speck in the night sky.
I am further intrigued by the lack of intellectual creativity evidenced in the minds of those engaged in these pursuits. They seem to not have developed an ability to conceive of life forms unlike our own. They insist that without water, for instance, life cannot exist. They seem to not consider that there may be forms of life that thrive in arid, airless conditions. The toxic atmospheres of other known planets could be tailor made for life that may inhabit them. There may be forms of intelligence, far greater than we can comprehend, that have evolved beyond the need for physical form. Beings of pure thought for instance unencumbered by the limitations of a body.
Man is a creature with a curious mind. He longs for new ideas and a greater understanding of the world and space that surrounds him. This curiosity has led to the development of the satellites which orbit our earth enabling us to communicate with one another with astonishing speed. These accomplishments allow mankind to progress. But perhaps it is time for us to step back. To stop expanding and turn our concerns inward. To return to marveling at the night sky. Perhaps some things are not meant to be understood too deeply. Perhaps some things are meant to remain slightly mysterious. Perhaps it is time to turn our attention, to apply out intellect and wealth to that which will benefit us here.