Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spirit Rover On Homeplate

At this moment as I write, the rovers Spirit and Opportunity are 107,508,000 miles from my desk. Tomorrow at this moment they will be 103,788,000 miles away. That means that about the time I publish this web log, Mars will have narrowed the distance to my desk by some 155,000 relative miles. I like that perspective. It lets me know that Mars is a real place in a solar system that is in a hurry all the time by mere human measures.

Meanwhile, on Mars, the rover Spirit has made what many planetary scientists are calling the most spectacular finding yet. What’s all the excitement about?

They can’t figure out exactly what it is. The picture above shows it – dubbed “homeplate”. Some think it may be a volcanic fissure vent – others think it is layering due to a variety of possible causes: impact deposits, volcanic deposits, maybe wind- or water-lain sediments. But whatever it is, the picture of all the jumbled layered rocks has sparked a somewhat “spirited” debate (no pun intended).

So why should we earthlings care if a robot on mars takes a picture of a jumbled rock formation? Plenty, I’d say. One day, Mars will be just as important as the Earth in the Solar System. It will inherit that status by mankind’s staking claim to the planet. And mankind will stake their claim supported almost entirely the discovery of water which on Mars is to become more valuable than gold. Water on Mars is the most strategically important element, and without it, Mars exploration and settlement will be prohibitively expensive. In other words, finding water is equivalent to staking a permanent, meaningful claim on anther planet. Who ever finds and controls the water first are rulers of the planet. The best claims will become the most powerful entities.

Now – to those of you who actually think Mars, our moon and the planets will be settled by non-competitive and un-aggressive means, perhaps it is time for your medications. Historically, treaties and agreements have always been the reasons for going to war, not preventative declarations as they purport to be. Ask my ancestors, the Native Americans of the North American Plains.

The bottom line is this – we, as Americans need to get up off our butts and get busy right now. At this point, we’re showing all the good spots to our competition!

You can stay in touch with the rovers daily by clicking here.