No, we haven’t made it to Mars yet let alone colonize it, and the technology needed to send anyone there and back is a ways away… but I’m still excited. Want to know why? It’s because there’s an idea out there and ideas inspire.
When the announcement was made for a one way trip to Mars, I think everyone’s initial reaction was ‘Who would ever do that?’. I know that was my first one. Actually, my first one was to be excited that they were thinking of this. Yes, that’s how my brain works. When it came to that second thought though, I then immediately thought of how our perceptions have changed about travel frontiers in the past few centuries.
No, leaving this planet and going to another is hugely different from crossing the ocean to an known location, but it all depends on how you look at it. Given our technology level and knowledge a few millennia ago, it would be unthinkable to cross an ocean and to make it back. We couldn’t survive the journey due to lack of water and food; crossing the water would be wrought with storms and other unknowns and then once we got to our destination, if it even existed, would there be anything there? Would monsters eat us?
Actually, when I think about it, going to Mars has a lot more knows about it than early seafaring did. We know Mars isn’t habitable by current standards but most importantly – we know it actually exists, which is more than most people could say about the New World.
Those who did strike out and do it had their reasons, but for many it was for adventure. Just like those who are signing up to go to Mars, many seem misguided (one person said they liked roller coasters and other thrills, so going to Mars makes sense… uhhh…. no), but they will be weeded out until only the dedicated and suitable remain.
Is the whole Mars thing ridiculous? Of course. Are there going to be problems? More than likely. Does that mean we should give up? Of course not. The simple truth is we need to keep striving for something larger than ourselves. We are ridiculous to think this planet will always sustain us and that we’re perfectly safe here. Additionally, we need something to satisfy our curiosity and I really can’t think of anywhere better than by exploring space.