Over eight thousand days ago, the United States landed a robotic exploration platform on Mars, named Opportunity. And in cooperation with nations around the world, NASA has been receiving data from that platform. Images, measurements of environmental conditions, etc… .
This is an amazing feat. We seem to take such things for granted these days, and perhaps that is because we are not risking human lives with such endeavors. If that is in fact the source of our seemed apathy, it is too bad. The search for knowledge is fundamental to the human endeavor. It is one of those things that sets us apart.
There are some things about each nation which sets it apart, its societies and cultures, language, art, belief systems, and science to name a few. Science is one of those things that we here in the US have been aggressive about. We are willing to take risks that others are not. We like the ‘field science’, where we go there, dig our fingers through the dirt, and take on the myriad challenges that go along with getting there, wherever that may be, with aplomb. We love science, and more importantly, we love applied science. And NASA represents applied science more than any other US institution in my view. Much of the technology we take for granted today is due to fundamental science done either by NASA or for NASA under direction. We, along with a few other nations, lead the way in technology development because of NASA. We should be most proud of that.
In these days of political and economic turmoil, societal discord and bickering, there is this bright, calming light that always makes me feel grateful; Our thirst for knowledge, and our willingness to work and take risks to find that knowledge. Of this I am proud!
Of this, we should be proud! We owe it to ourselves.
Perhaps someday, there will be a little glass enclosure on a plain somewhere on mars. And in that little enclosure will be a rover named Opportunity, ragged and dust pitted, but with the history of a nation of people willing to take risks for knowledge. And maybe a little plaque for the visitors to read, and think: “Oh, isn’t that so quaint.” Perhaps…..
In the meantime, lets not forget that we have some accomplishments of which we should be proud! I think Opportunity and what it represents is one of them.