It is assumed, as of now, that the new Mars lander will find no current life on the red planet.
This hulk of a machine, for all of it’s technological advancements, is sitting on the not-too-distant planet, right now, analyzing samples of Martian earth, for the possibility of organic material that may or may not have the capability to sustain life as we know it.
Aside from the scripted answers of why the new lander was launched, and landed, and is moving with such fanfare, the basic reason why we decided to send another space rover to Mars is still beyond me. We have all but confirmed that life as we know it does not exist there. This mission, among other, unknown and assuredly closed-door-reasons, is only to answer if life can be sustained there, or if life was ever sustained there.
Of all of the planets in our solar system, it is the planet that is closest to the design and function of earth. It is a relatively safe assumption that, given current temperatures and conditions, life as we know it can be sustained there with heavy amounts of supplies, and that is the stuff for science fiction to work out –bubble cities and daily transports of supplies, and all of the stuff of fantastic novels. But the current reality is that life cannot, right now, be sustained.
So maybe the cost, some $520 million, will allow us to find answers and build a catalog of Martian material that one day may point the way for building life on that planet. But if that is the case, we are taking very small steps for a society that calls itself advanced. The mission, according to human standards, is remarkable though. With a chance of landing the craft at one in ten million, it has proved a success for those who devised and built the machine. It took a journey of 420 million miles, and landed within 20 kilometers of its intended spot. The machine unfolded itself, like something from a would-be-primitive cybernetic society, and sent the first pictures to earth, through a distance of 171 million miles, in just fifteen minutes. I am anxious to hear the results of its search.
But truth be told, we are reaching for something that may not be there.
As for what our eyes, and telescopes can see, there is not another planet, save for our own solar system, that exists in the entire universe. Educated guessers believe that surely, somewhere, conditions are favorable, and similar, to a planet like earth — one in such close proxemity to its neighboring star, and that it may be conducive to life. But we have no proof. No proof that life, at least life as we know it, exists somewhere else.
We are alone. All 6 billion of us.
Andrew Watson, with the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia in Norwich, believes that life as we know it does not exist anywhere else in the universe. His opinion, based upon a complex mathematical solution, believes that no other planet could possibly have all of the complex life-sustaining elements and situations found on earth.
Life may not, and probably does not, exist anywhere else. What is more frightening, though, is what may lie beyond what we can see. Our universe has a known diameter of 28 billion light years. But what is beyond that horizon? And do these questions even matter?
Backing away from earth, much like moving away from a school globe, gives us all a fair amount of perspective. We are petty. Puny. Or special, depending on your take. Either what we do really does not matter, or what we do matters most, for we are only one of 6 billion complex lifeforms in the entire known universe. But even then, what we do, the leaders we elect, the music we hear or play, and the words we speak, are isolated, empty, when they float into space. Who, or what, is out there to hear?
There is a great scene in the movie Titanic, when director James Cameron has spent much of the movie telling the personal story of two central characters on a doomed passage. When the collision happens, and chaos erupts on board, we are taken into that journey. And in the midst of that emotion, Cameron pulls the camera angle back, and shows the ship from the sky. It looks like a tiny set of lights in a vastness of darkness. No one hears their cries, for they are alone. All of their desires, their wants, their selfish, survival needs are petty to their surroundings. And though the story of Jack and Rose is touching, it matters only to Rose and her family, and no one else.
So if we are alone, and no other lifeforms are present anywhere else, then the concept of faith, suddenly, becomes a much bigger trigger. God created only us in this vast universe. And, above our sky, there is no physical, tangible safety. And (if you take some liberties with the hardcore biblical approach), if life does exist outside of our known universe, then it must be made in the image of God. Right?
All of this redefines my concept of faith, for faith no longer is just having some emotional strength to make it through any given day.
Faith is a reliance that the world will turn as it should, especially if it is the only world known to us. That people are placed where they should be, on a lonely planet. That situations never happen by chance, and that a concept such as chanced evolution could not possibly be right. That luck does not, nor ever has existed, and that our lives are lived somewhere between destiny and our own freedom to choose. And that loneliness is much bigger, much more defined, than an empty house, for that empty house is one of but a few billion known in the entire universe. We haven’t really felt true loneliness. Maybe ever. But these things, these concepts of space and time, to us, are truly secret things.
But faith has never seemed so concrete. Never.