Seeing Ourselves Anew from Faraway Mars

Contemplate Mars’s Bright Evening Star

earth from mars
Earth in the Martian twilight, as seen by Mars Curiosity Lander, January 31, 2014. (Click to embiggen.)

I know this image taken from the surface of Mars dates back to January of 2014, but I still find it fascinating to simply look at it and think about what the view means. If you can, click on this small version (right-click to open a bigger version). Then, just simply scan the darkened part of the sky.

See that little blue dot? That’s us, as seen from the Mars Curiosity rover on January 31, 2014. We’re all there, on that pale blue dot, doing our communal thing on the only planet we can call as our home.

If you were on the surface of the Red Planet and could look up at the sky after sunset, this is how humanity’s ancient home would look to you. A pale blue dot and a tiny pinpoint of light marking our Moon.

Being on Mars

What if you WERE there? Think about that for a moment. Imagine yourself there. You’ve just finished a long day of whatever it is your science team has assigned you to do, and you’re taking a moment to simply enjoy the sky before you head in for dinner (hopefully NOT potatoes!) and a movie.

Think about the work and accomplishments it took to get you there. For one thing, YOU would have done a LOT of work to get chosen for a Mars mission. Or, maybe you’re a second-generation Mars colonist. Maybe you were born there and you simply think of yourself as a Martian. The place has always been your home. And, maybe your colony’s history has been long and difficult, as humans worked to gain a foothold in the Martian environment.

No matter how you got to Mars, there you are, staring at a world that’s about a hundred million miles away. What’s happening there as you watch in the gathering night? Are countries at war? At peace? Has climate change been forestalled? Or, are millions of people suffering through the extreme weather and changing ocean levels? Do you have relatives there? What do they tell you about life on Earth? What do you tell THEM about life on Mars?

Someday, and I hope it’s fairly soon, there WILL be Martians staring back at Earth, just as Curiosity did to take this image. It’s been a long time coming, and it will make a tremendous change in humanity — change we can only dimly imagine today.

Will YOU (or your children) be the Martian who stares back at Earth?

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