I was just a few days short of my sixth birthday. I was sitting on the floor of my living room with my father, mother, sister, and brother on a Sunday afternoon. We were all staring at the television at Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took their first steps on the moon. I remember my father telling me to watch carefully as this would be part of my life. It was an absolutely amazing experience.
For the next few years at school, I was obsessed with astronomy. Like many modern children who become obsessed with dinosaurs, I became obsessed with space. I looked forward to watching the film strips that we would have at school about outer space. I would read books about the planets and stars. I really hoped I would live up in space someday.
However, I lost my interest in space a few years later. One, I realized that my skill set was somewhere else. I was not built to be an explorer. Sure I like adventure, but I tend to go to places that others have gone first. Second, although I am good at math, I am not good at engineering and fixing things. The astronauts that I saw on tv and the few science fiction books that I read had astronauts having to fix things in their space craft and I knew I couldn't do that. Also space expeditions as I grew up were not to other celestial bodies but to the space station some 200 kms. above us. It just didn't seem as exciting to me.
So I moved on from my great interest in space. Earlier this year though, Nasa's space craft, Preserverance, landed on Mars and began sending pictures back to Earth. I was amazed at the barren landscape. I was amazed at how clear the pictures were. I was shocked to hear that the night temperatures were an unimaginable minus 130C. Given the extreme conditions on the planet, I am amazed that there is still talk of finding life on our neighbouring planet. Who or what could survive there? With this exploration and these pictures being shared though, I did find some of my interest in space being re-ignited. While I realize, quite happily so, that I am earthbound, I did wonder if people in the not to distant future might walk on Mars or other distant bodies.
I think one reason people want to explore moons, planets and stars, is that they want to find out more about the origins of life here on Earth. What was so different here that so many different life forms sprang up. I think another reason why we explore space is that we realize we have not treated the earth all that well. We know our earth is suffering because of air, water, and land pollution. We have stood back as many species die each year. Climate change has caused a surge in strange weather phenomena. Some people think maybe our time on this planet might be limited and maybe future generations will have to live somewhere else.
I think though we still have a chance. Maybe we can care for our earth better. Maybe we can protect endangered species. Maybe we can limit the amount of wasted materials like plastics that go into our oceans and our landfills. Maybe we can help the future of living beings on our planet rather than make life more difficult.
I also think this extends to the way we treat one another. For too many people, their default emotion seems to be anger rather than empathy. We are all too willing to complain our loss of rights rather than think about what's best for the whole community. Things like wearing a mask become a big deal for some rather than protecting the whole of the community. I think we should, as well as seeking life on other planets, learn to value life here more. Blessings.