On April 23, 2013 the United Press International reported that a Dutch non-profit organization, the Mars One Foundation, was taking applications for volunteers who would be willing to travel to Mars.
The requirements? A prospective Mars voyager must be at least 18 years old, be in top physical health, and be willing and able to make the sacrifices required for this long journey and—be willing to spend the rest of his or her life on Mars! For this trip is one-way—with no return to Earth. Yet, despite this grim prospect, a subsequent article stated that 78,000 people applied to take the trip.
According to the project’s chief executive, Bas Lansdorf, this is a cost-saving measure since he considers money for the project to be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Why would anyone choose to travel one-way to the planet Mars? For the adventure? To make their mark in history as the first permanent inhabitant on Mars? Or, because things are so terrible here on planet Earth?
Life on Mars
That’s the conclusion a team of psychologists came to when they reviewed the 18,000 applications submitted to the Hayden Planetarium in response to a similar request for volunteers to travel to “other worlds.” The majority of volunteers actually believed that anyplace would be better than Earth.i
It’s true that Mars is the most hospitable planet in the solar system besides earth, yet its average surface temperature is a fierce 40 degrees F below zero. And its air pressure is only one 150th of that on earth and mostly consists of carbon dioxide. This low atmospheric pressure makes it impossible for liquid water to exist on the surface of Mars. Frozen water immediately turns to vapor when it melts. And guess what – no liquid water, no life. Not only is the grass not greener on Mars. There’s no grass at all.
Life on Mars would always be confined to a pressurized building or to a pressurized “Mars suit.” And kiss goodbye forever to the deep blue skies of Earth if you travel one-way to Mars. Mars’ sky is the same color as its ground—brown. Say goodbye also to Earth’s fluffy white clouds, golden sunsets, white sandy beaches, aqua blue seas, lush green forests, colorful flowers, and invigorating fresh air. None of that exists on Mars.
In a 2008 interview with the crew of the Apollo 8 mission (December 1968)—the first manned spaceflight that broke away from Earth-orbit and traveled to circle the moon – the astronauts made a profound observation. At the time of its launch, this journey represented the culmination of a 10-year effort to reach the moon. The moon was at the apex of NASA’s goals and aspirations. It was all those three Apollo 8 astronauts thought about.
Then something totally unexpected happened. The Apollo 8 astronauts became the first humans to witness an “Earth-rise” above the desolate moonscape. Earth was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. Our planet appeared as a brilliantly illuminated jewel against a totally black backdrop. “We had come all this way to reach the moon,” said Bill Anders, one of the Apollo 8 crew, “only to find out that the most significant thing in the whole universe is our own home planet.”
I suspect that any future one-way travelers to Mars will experience the same feelings. They will spend the rest of their lives looking longingly—from a great distance—at the world, they left behind and only then will they appreciate the world they once had.
How sad that we always believe that the grass has got to be greener, and the circumstances better, in another world or in another life or with another spouse or on another job. And only when we leave behind or lose those precious gifts—through our own discontentment and neglect—do we appreciate their value.
Why not take the time and make the effort, now, to count our blessings and appreciate the good things that God has poured into our lives. Learning to be thankful and living with an attitude of gratitude will lift us from depression and transform our lives. It will bring healing to our marriages and energize us in the workplace.
The Scripture says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV).
Dear Father in heaven, thank You for the vast storehouse of blessings You have poured into my life. Open my eyes to all the good things that adorn my existence and help me, Lord, to live every day with an attitude of gratitude. Amen.