I was talking to a friend a while ago about an article I’d read talking about the possibility of a vanguard colony on a planet like Mars. There is a field of space medicine to research and address those conditions which occur from spaceflight, and the article was particularly focused on the loss of bone density. The conclusion was that should one go to another planet, they would never be able to come home, which is a common enough stipulation for these kinds of what-ifs.
He asked if I would still go, knowing I couldn’t come home, and I think I was truthful when I answered, “In a heartbeat.” It would be terrifying, but I can’t imagine ever passing up that sort of chance. Of course, it’s a what-if, a game, and given the real opportunity, of course I have no idea what I would decide.
Still, I stayed up tonight just to find out if Curiosity’s landing was successful. After a day of being dumbfounded by the deliberate horror we inflict on one another, I can’t help but feel a flood of gratitude toward the scientists and engineers who made this happen, because it is a reminder that we are capable of doing great things too.