Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What would you say on Mars?

It is a phrase cemented in history.

"That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind."

That is what Neil Armstrong said upon setting foot on the Moon (the "a" in the first phrase has been proven by audiophiles.)  Now, as we set our sights (hopefully) on Mars, there are those wondering what statement will be made as someone steps out for the first time on another planet?

The BBC has asked its readers this very question.  The responses have been intriguing.  Martin Archer, a British plasma physicist, derived his response from the name "Mars" and its mythological origins as the god of war:

"We as a race step foot on this planet in peace not war."

Scientists have also pointed out a fundamental difference between the physical status of the Apollo astronauts and whoever steps onto Mars.  Armstrong and Aldrin had been in space for three days.  The Mars crew would have been on their journey for over nine months with present technology.  Unless they have a form of artificial gravity on their spacecraft, these folks might be rather woozy and unable to say much of anything.

Still, the question remains.

Responses have been humorous, such as "I think I've made a huge mistake" and "Here rover..." referring to Curiosity and other remote rovers on Mars. Those aside, the majority of answers seem to boil down to just about the same set of words:

"We come as representatives not of one nation but of the whole Earth.  We come here in peace."

What would I say?  Well, knowing that my words would be part of history and reflecting the very esse of the human spirit, I would fight the urge to grossly insult anyone who opposed space exploration.  I might make a nod to those who wrote science fiction about Mars, but even that doesn't seem to do the moment justice.  Maybe I'd say "Let's check out those pyramids and the face at Cydonia! C'mon, let's get hell-a-fuckin'-goin'!"  Somehow, I don't think that would be popular.

In today's political age, it might be that the first words would be scripted by whatever controlling agency sent the astronauts.  There are also those who think that Armstrong's original words cannot be improved upon.

I don't know.  I would hope that whoever comes next would use more gender-inclusive language.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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