Our yearning to explore the frontiers of space will continue to haunt us. We will, as long as we exist, continue the quest to answer the eternal question: are we alone in the Universe?
Curiosity (Mars Science Laboratory) is the next small step in our incredible journey of discovery. It will probe the Martian surface, looking for signs of life. It will look at the climate and geology of Mars to brief us for a possible human mission. It will use advanced, precision tools to look for biosignatures and detailed evidence of past water flows.
All of this is made possible by billions of dollars in investments, and the support of hundreds of millions of people around the world. But it is also the result of thousands of brilliant scientific minds that created its engineering marvels, from the radiation-proof computers that automate its functions to the rocket technologies that propel it closer towards the stars.
Curiosity is a reminder of the need to really, actually do science. Science isn’t just a nice-sounding word. It isn’t a political game. It isn’t something you throw money at (although that would be pretty nice). No, science isn’t easy. It means that some people will have to give their blood, sweat, and tears. It means long hours late at night, crying through physics in grad school or rechecking every little calculation you’ve made. It means asking tough questions and dealing with the chaotic unknowns of outer space, instead of getting easy answers from an ancient book. It means making personal sacrifices, and risking your reputation on a desire to go where few human objects have gone before.
If all goes well, we might see an inspirational scene like this tomorrow:
(Landing of Phoenix, May 2008)
And a new video has surfaced. His voice, his message, his dream lives on.