On Monday NASA of course made a major announcement that there seems to be seasonal water that flows on the surface of Mars which at least opens up the possibility that perhaps there could be microbial life on the red planet. Scientists are saying that it is still a long shot by a mile considering the water, if that is truly what it is, is so salty that it may not be an environment conducive to supporting life at all.
To my mind, despite what the ultimate outcome is ahead, I think this is an important discovery.
Trolling the Internet one finds that when it comes to space exploration, there are myriad opinions regarding its importance. There are a great many who believe that it is simply a waste of time and money. I am not in that corner.
Yes. The government is on a massive sprint when it comes to spending valuable taxpayer dollars. There is no disputing that. But while a vast majority of what the government spends money on is arguably wasteful, space exploration is not one of them. I think it is important that humans seek the origins of life, and the possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe. The fact is that we don't have the answers. Since the dawn of cognitive thought, man has wondered how it all started, why they are here, and have made every attempt to come up with an answer.
There has long been a theory that quite possibly life on Earth was as a result of cosmic insemination, delivered to the blue planet via an asteroid or comet carrying microbes that planted the seeds for what is now a complex and diverse world teeming with living things. If life is indeed found to exist in some form on Mars this changes much of what we now know, and opens up wide the possibility that there could be, elsewhere in the Universe, more complex forms of life somewhere in the cosmos.
In some ways, and for some, the prospect is frightening. What kind of life could it be? Would it pose any danger to humankind or Earth itself? But it also challenges religious belief as well. If life is found to exist elsewhere in the Universe, what does it say of theological explanations for the origin of the world we live in, and the very existence of life itself?
I have always been one to want to know more, and to encourage the continuation of exploring ideas and truths. We cannot accomplish that if we stop on one or a few answers, either theological ones or scientific ones. As I have always said, we simply do not know what the truth is, and until we do—and we may never truly know it by the way—we need to keep on looking.
As for what we spend on NASA annually? Currently it is about a half of a percent of the total budget. Less than $20 billion a year. Making a simple comparative observation, the U.S. government spends about $455 billion a year on welfare programs, or roughly 15% of the total budget. For those who want to make the argument that we are not taking care of priorities here on Earth, I think the numbers suggest differently.
Is there life on Mars? Is there life anywhere in the Universe but here? Who knows? But I happen to think it is important that so long as we have the ability to explore the question, that we do so absolutely. As part of the opening line of the popular former TV series The X Files suggested, "The truth is out there." Unless one believes they truly have all the answers they need, we need to keep the search ongoing.
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