That was an interesting week. And it continues. I just saw a crazy dog take off with a blue shoe. The shoe belonged to a shaman who followed the dog, admonishing her, “No! No! No!”
This dog has excellent hearing, but like many of us, finds listening taxing and not always worth it. Soon the disinterested dog dropped the blue shoe, leaving just a couple of dents and not much drool. Karma. Causes and conditions. I was there and the dog was there and the shaman was there. There was no there there. Just here everywhere you looked.
I spent Friday night on the dark side of the blood moon eclipse. I remember watching the blood moon rise over Mount Sopris last year. Last time we were in the zone to see the orange eclipse, but this time it was Africa and other faraway places that got the orange eclipse. The moon is close enough to influence our bodily fluids and, in turn, our mood and outlook. There are tides inside of us, pulled by the gravity of the situation.
Even though we were on the wrong side of the world to see the blood moon eclipse last Friday, we’ve had our share of smoke moons that can look orange and eerie. Venus has been hanging in the western sky, adding a jewel to the waning moon. Mercury recently reached her greatest elongation from the sun, and that probably means that Mercury is in retrograde and there’s a bad moon on the rise.
Mars, our future home, was in 2003 in the closest opposition in 60,000 years. If we were going to send a human mission to Mars we should have done it then. Send some men and women. Petri dishes and DNA samples in cryogenic suspension. Keep us going.
But Mars is still pretty close, and it’s not too late. We are the closest and in the best opposition since 2003. If we are going to hop off, it’s never going to get any easier. Judging by conditions on our beleaguered planet, it’s time to run.
People are signed up and ready to go. You can sign up for a potential Mars mission online with NASA. In March 2017, both chambers of Congress passed a bill that says we should get there by 2033.
When they started taking Mars Mission applicants in 2005, NASA Administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden said, “NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars and we’re looking for talented men and women from diverse backgrounds and every walk of life to help get us there.”
On Aug. 3, NASA will announce the first crews to jump on the newest experimental spacecraft and start testing the possibilities.
“NASA will announce the crew assignments for the crew flight tests and the first post-certification missions for both Boeing and SpaceX,” NASA said on its website. “NASA partnered with Boeing and SpaceX to develop the Starliner spacecraft to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 rocket, respectively.”
Elon Musk, CEO and lead designer at Space X, is our best hope for getting there. So let’s back him now. Don’t take my word for it. Go to spacex.com/mars and behold convincing animation of an interplanetary spacecraft racing confidently out of the atmosphere and into space.
Across the screen are Musk’s words, “You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great — and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
The goal is to become a multi-planet species, and why not? I only wish we could find something a little closer and more hospitable than Mars. Those Martian humans are going to either have to wear protective gear all the time or stay inside. Those suits better be thick. Even though Mars gets up to about 70 degrees on a summer day near the equator, at night it plunges to minus 100 degrees F. or more. We’ll need someone to spoon in our space suits or at least three dogs per human.
And breathing? Forget about it. Mars has little air, and the air that they do have is almost all carbon dioxide.
Despite the lack of air, scientists have announced the discovery of the potential building blocks of life on Mars. They are not positive yet, though. The next mission will send technology capable of bringing back dust and rocks so they can be scrutinized more closely by our sophisticated instruments. The building blocks on Mars represent the potential for food, glorious food. Lifeless building blocks cannot be made into Lucky Charms.
Scientists from Italy’s National Institute of Science announced just two weeks ago that they discovered an underground lake on Mars that’s 12 miles wide. The liquid is one mile under the surface of the planet. This is good news for those heading to Mars and hoping for some fresh water and wake-boarding.
The discovery is remarkable because much of the planet has been obscured by a massive dust storm this year. Reminds me of Earth, which must be obscured from space aliens’ view because of all the smoke on our planet, which we’ve set on fire. These fires across Earth are making Mars look more appealing by the day.
Why did the dog take the blue shoe and run from the shaman? Is Mercury in retrograde and is that a bad moon on the rise? Will Martian humans get tired of cribbage? Will there be wine on the Mars mission? Shamans? Fire and rain?
Steve Skinner notes that, according to NASA, there’s potential for growing potatoes on Mars. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.