by Zachariah Zendejas
About a week ago I was taking out the trash around 9 o’ clock at night and I happened to look up at the sky. During a winter night in the countryside of Reedley, the stars are so bright and the sky is so dark it’s like a blanket with Christmas lights poking through. As I began my stargazing my mind couldn’t help but wander out towards the cold recesses of space and I wondered if man will ever begin to explore any of the planets we have so far seen.
It seems, however, that my fantasy of space travel and exploration has become a reality for NASA. In a recent report by Ki Mae Heussner from ABC News, NASA scientists believe that space travel to Mars can be a reality in the next 20 years. What put off this type of trek to the Red Planet for so long was because a journey of that distance would not only be dangerous, but supplies needed for the journey home would be at risk of being damaged, thus stranding the astronauts.However, scientists began to suggest that maybe they should try a one-way trip. This way no one would be in danger of being stranded and they would begin to settle on the Red Planet. Though no formal invitation or application has been made, that didn’t stop over 500 different individuals from all over the world asking to be on the team that tackles this final frontier.
Now, it seems that out of approximately seven billion people on this planet, only 500 want to abandon their lives to a new, unexplored, and dangerous territory. Out of that 500, how many really wish to go?
I guess my real question is, what makes those few want to go? Is there something so bad here on Earth that Mars seems the only escape? Or is it more than just running away from their lives?
According to Dirk Schulze-Makuch, who is a professor of earth sciences and was interviewed by the ABC News reporter Heussner, this type of adventure piques the interest of the human spirit. With this I agree. As human beings we have this innate desire to discover something outside ourselves, and outside our lives. History is filled with examples of great explorations and the people who seemed crazy enough to risk their lives to be a part of it. But let’s go one step further.
For the scientist, this is about discovery and learning new things about our ruddy neighbor. For the traveler, I think this is about something bigger and more personal. This is about being a part of something huge, something novelists have only written about. And for the individual, a person who may have lived an obscure and unwitnessed life, this is a chance to leave a mark on history as one of the first settlers of the Red Planet.
As human beings, we all want to be a part of something big, something that matters, something that says: “I was here. I did something people only dream about.” I for one don’t know if I would want to go or not, but I understand the people who would.
To learn more, check out the article by ABC News article.