Space exploration is much like the ocean was to early sailors and explorers – a rather expansive one, but I’d like to know what Samuel Taylor Coleridge (The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner) would think of the idea of humanity insisting on travelling to another planet with literally ‘water water everywhere nor any drop to drink’. Because there is water on Mars – its frozen and there is plenty of interesting possibilities with that mere fact.
All theories aside about whether Mars once harboured life (single cellular or multicellular is beside the point), I have an issue with humans going to Mars – its quite simple – we’ll f’k it up! Here is the sad irony. We will burn, dig, destroy, our own ecosystem – especially our fragile yet bountiful water supply in order to send people to another planet that has…oooooh…..lets be generous, ‘nominal’ biodiversity and water with the slightly megalomaniacal idea that we will ‘colonise it’. We will call this ‘achievement’ monumental – slap ourselves on the back and say it was possible because of the advancement of technology.
We must be the only virus/plague that is consciously aware of our own toxicity and demise as a result yet still behaves like the microbial version in spite of this awareness and simply decides to ‘spread’. I am really hoping Mars has a better immune system than earth – hopefully its slightly less hospitable environment might wake us up.
This is where science fiction becomes more like science ‘friction’ – there are elements that are familiar enough to be plausible but the context doesn’t quite fit so we dismiss it. Think the Matrix – Smiths speech to Morpheus about human beings not being Mammals – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IM1-DQ2Wo_w Or Robert A Heinlein’s Stranger In A Strange land – that starts with the first ever manned mission to Mars that becomes incredibly ‘awkward’ for humanity as they realise ‘we are not alone’.
So – I raise my glass of fresh – almost pure – water to those signing up for a 1 way flight to Mars. Perhaps they could read Coleridge’s epic poem on their way – probably take the whole trip to get through it – by then they might be wanting to send a message back saying.
“Grass definitely not greener – send water.”