Monday, July 04, 2011

Mars Rover "Spirit" and Titan probe "Huygens"- both instruments of worship.

Over the last couple days we have watched a couple of space exploration documentaries. The first was called "Death of a Mars Rover", produced by National Geographic. The second was "Destination Titan", produced by the BBC.
I am always fascinated by space exploration. I have the greatest admiration for the scientists who are involved in these endeavours. Some may think that their activities are a waste of time and that they are of "no earthly good." Nothing could of course be further from the truth.
It is an easy temptation for humanity to be short sighted. Much like in Christianity, people get focused solely on the salvation of the individual and do not stop to realise that God's purposes go way beyond salvation. God's purposes are to establish his eternal kingdom. Salvation is just like getting the citizenship certificate, to say nothing of the civil responsibilities, as well as dreams and aspirations of the King and his citizens.
In a similar way many people do not realise the value of exploring the universe. But I can think of few things of greater value. Space exploration has intrinsic value in itself. We have a duty to understand the universe around us. We have a duty to explore it. In fact this can even be worship. To learn more about God's universe is to glorify him for creating it. For this reason I have the greatest admiration for the scientists who work to explore the solar system and the universe- even if they don't agree with my premise.
Of course there could be far more practical reasons for space exploration. There are undoubtedly many minerals available in our solar system that could be used on earth and to further our exploration. But until we discover minerals that are in low supply on earth (or even non-existent on earth), space mining is on indefinite delay. There can be no doubting that commercial incentives would push space exploration at a rapid pace. Sometimes I feel that this is needed, as on the whole space exploration is moving quite slowly. I still find it a shame that a base has not yet been established on the moon. Science just doesn't seem to be a big enough motivator for the general public, although it is a very worthy cause.

In the two documentaries, remarkable stories were told of success against improbable odds. The Mars rovers were supposed to only last 90 days. But one of them lasted seven years, and the other is still going. Even the stories of their survival, for me are a clue that God is in favour and support of these scientific missions. I can hear God saying, "sure, explore as much as you can, I know you are looking for life in the universe and I know you don't want to be alone on earth, so keep looking, the more you look and the more you search, the more likely you are to find ME." I can hear God cheering along the endeavours to explore Mars and Titan.
The probe that was sent to Titan (in 1997) nearly did not make it. And it even came down to the last three minutes of energy on the probe for it to collect that data that was planned. Success came down to the last second. Now scientists are hoping to send a "boat like probe" to sail the seas of liquid methane on Titan.

The Mars Rover "Spirit".

The Titan probe "Huygens".

An artists impression of Huygens landing on Titan.

I remember watching a documentary on what earth would be like 10 000 years after the last human was gone. It was speculated that perhaps Mt Rushmore would be the last remaining evidence of humans. All other structures would have disintegrated and disappeared. What would someone think if they found Mt Rushmore's presidential tribute? It would have the same unexplained aura as does Easter Island or Stone henge. What does it say about our world?  Perhaps it even says that America worships it's presidents.

But then it has been mentioned that the Mars Rovers will not decay as there is nothing to cause their decay, and that they will likely remain as they are for millions of years if no one goes to Mars. I think it is  a far better testament to humanity to see us exploring the universe, than leaving marks of worship to presidents carved in mountains.

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