Every so often, scientists get excited about finding water somewhere other than Earth. NASA’s recent discovery, which showed signs of briny water on Mars, may have made headlines but there is water on a lot of Worlds in our solar system.
Water is vital for life as we know it. But we also need a variety of other elements to survive, such as carbon and nitrogen. These elements allow us, and all other flora and fauna on Earth, to conduct biological processes such as protein production, cell division, and respiration.
Humanity, along with most life on Earth, also requires a very narrow temperature range. The frozen surfaces of many of the water-covered worlds in our solar system are deadly cold.
Water, although important, is not necessarily enough for us to live off-world. We might find some of the things we need elsewhere, but Earth is the best thing we have for now. Living anywhere else in our solar system would require a huge amount of energy and engineering, so take care of the only planet you have got.
You are trapped. The best you can do is send pieces of metal and dreams beyond the Earth’s pull, and hope that it gets you somewhere.
It’s hard not to look at the ground as you walk. To set your sights low, and keep the World spinning, and try to stay grounded wherever you are.
But every so often you remember to look up, and imagine the possibilities. Dreaming of what’s out there.
Before long, you find yourself grounded once again. Grounded in the sense of being homebound. Stuck on the planet Earth.
The more you look to the sky, the more you find yourself back on Earth, confronting certain possibilities.
It’s possible there are other names for our planet, that we will never know. That there are constellations that feature our sun, from an angle we’ll never get to see. That there are many other civilizations hidden beyond the veil of time, too far away for their light to ever reach us.
We dream of other Worlds, and name them after our old discarded gods, and they seem almost as distant – too far to be seen with the naked eye. Only ever in artist’s renditions. Or a scattering of pixels on a monitor, with the colors tweaked to add a bit of flair.
Even our own neighborhood is impossibly vast. We’re so used to showing the planets nested together-because if we drew them to scale, they’d be so far apart, they wouldn’t fit on the same page.
And even our own moon, that seems to hang so close to Earth. But still so far away that all the other planets could fit in the space between them.
It’s possible our spacesuits won’t need treaded boots ever again. That one day soon we’ll tire of wandering and move back home for good. And we’ll get used to watching our feet as we walk, occasionally stopping to hurl a single probe into the abyss, like a message in a bottle.
Maybe it shouldn’t matter if anyone ever finds it. If nobody’s there to know we once lived here on Earth. Maybe it should be like skipping a stone across the surface of a lake. It doesn’t matter where it ends up, It just matters that we’re here on the shore.
Just trying to have fun and pass the time, and see how far it goes.